Bakeries

284. Bommarito Bakery – October 7, 2017 – Saint Clair Shores, MI

BommaritosOct2017-2 (2)BommaritosOct2017-1 (2)I’d never visited Bommarito Bakery in Saint Clair Shores until a few weeks ago; however, I did have a memorable run-in with one of its cassata cakes a few years ago.

A friend of mine had a party at which she presented the cake; I tried some, and my mind was BLOWN. It was the best cassata cake I’d ever had – which is saying a lot, because cassata cake is one of those things I’m particular about – i.e., something I’d previously specifically entrusted Vito’s Bakery in Clinton Township to make for me, because Vito’s cassata cake was THE cassata cake. It was its cannoli filling, with those chunks of chocolate and the perfect amount of cinnamon, that sealed the deal . . . my family and I have long seen Vito’s as the winner in the cannoli-filling department. But here was Bommarito Bakery totally dethroning Vito’s in my mind. What was happening????

After Bommarito and its bomb cassata cake shook up my world and earned my respect, I knew I had to visit the bakery so I could cover it for the blog. Earlier this month, I finally did and learned that Bommarito is much more than a bakery; it’s also a pizzeria, grocery, and wine store.

The evening I was there was a busy one, as it was the night of the annual Michigan vs. Michigan State football game; people were loading up on grub for their viewing parties. I myself was there to pick up a pizza I’d ordered. While waiting in line to pay, I was able to scope out the shop in greater detail.

Not only is this place a purveyor of freshly baked breads, cookies, cream puffs, cannolis, donuts, cakes, pies, and the like, it also offers sub sandwiches and gelato – in addition to the aforementioned pizza. Then there’s the extensive wine selection and the rows of dry and refrigerated groceries. Bommarito Bakery really has all of its bases covered! Not only can you stop there and pick up some tasty baked goods for your next office potluck, while you’re at it, you can grab some subs for dinner, some wine to accompany it, that milk you ran out of, the bread for the kid’s sandwiches, that mind-blowing cassata cake. . . it’s truly a one-stop-shop kind of bakery!

21830 Greater Mack Ave.

St. Clair Shores, MI 48080

www.bommaritobakery.com

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282. Cake Ambition – October 6, 2017 – Detroit, MI

CakeAmbitionOct2017-2 (2)CakeAmbitionOct2017-1 (2)After enjoying lunch at Selden Standard and making a couple of purchases at the lovely independent bookshop Source Booksellers (which I visited for the first time on my birthday last year), my recent birthday celebration downtown with my mom continued in search of sweets. Spurred on by a recommendation of one of the Source clerks who raved about its cheesecake, we went in search of what she called the “cheesecake lady” shop next to Blossoms florist.

After locating the florist, we realized the actual name of the cheesecake shop was Cake Ambition and that it sold much more than cheesecake. The vibrantly colored space (no way you can walk into this place and not smile!) also sold a selection of cupcakes and other baked goods such as coffee cake and spinach pies; old-fashioned candies such as salt-water taffy and striped candy sticks; and packaged goodies produced by other local vendors such as the fabulous Gus & Grey, which you may remember me mentioning in previous blog posts such as this one. Its jams are FANTASTIC, with unique flavor offerings such as the blueberry-lavender Spellbound, which Cake Ambition had in stock and which I decided to purchase.

I wanted to purchase the jam not only because I love Gus & Grey but also because I wanted to support the super-cheery shop and its friendly owner. My mom and I had decided not to purchase any cheesecake from Cake Ambition because there was only one slice currently being offered, and we decided amongst ourselves that we would move on to the other dessert place we’d had in mind instead, which I’ll cover in my next post (hint: it involves ice cream!).

Even though I didn’t sample any of Cake Ambition’s baked goods, I’m happy it was brought to my attention, because now I know not only where to go if I need a shot of childhood-level cheer and nostalgia (I just love the vibe of that colorful shop!), but also where I can order a baller custom cake. The gallery on Cake Ambition’s site shows cakes sculpted into realistic-looking models of athletic shoes, a pirate ship, and the Mad Hatter hat of Alice in Wonderland-fame, to name a few of the works of art displayed there. I am fascinated by the level of artistry obviously required to craft such desserts; these guys are definitely talented!

4154 3rd St.

Detroit, MI 48201

www.cakeambition.com

262. Donut Factory – August 9, 2017 – Warren, MI

20170809_13060620170809_13061620170809_143236Four words, people: CHOCOLATE HONEY-GLAZED DONUT. Those four words equal pure shining goodness and love, in my vocabulary!

Last month, I discovered that the people at the Donut Factory – a bakery/café on Mound Road just south of 12 Mile in Warren – most definitely know what the heck they are doing when they craft their namesake pastry. For a mere 95 cents, I got in return a little nugget of Heaven named CHOCOLATE HONEY-GLAZED DONUT that was delectably crispy and sweet-honey-kissed on the outside and sumptuously soft and chocolatey on the inside. YES QUEEN!

I’m thrilled that I decided to make the detour to the Donut Factory that afternoon while en route from an offsite work meeting, because discovering one more place where top-notch baked goods are crafted makes me feel that much more equipped to deal with life (donuts are an effective antidote to have in one’s back pocket when adulting gets squirrely). I stopped there because I thought it was one of two donut shops in Warren that I have on my 100 Places to-visit spreadsheet (one of my nerdiest and most beloved creations). I realized when I looked there later that it wasn’t (the shops on my list are Donut Castle and Daily Dozen. Apparently Warren is loaded with delightful independently-owned donut shops).  I guess it was Fate that brought me to the Donut Factory – so thank you for that, Universe!

According to its Yelp profile, the Donut Factory is open 24 hours Tuesdays through Fridays (so you can get your donut fix at any time of day! Imagine donuts after a visit to another Warren gem, Dragonmead Microbrewery – NEXT-LEVEL). On Saturday, it closes at 4 p.m. and is wholly closed on Sunday (good, because the saints who make these babies deserve to live a life outside of donut cobbling). It reopens on Monday at 4 a.m.

Besides donuts, the Donut Factory offers other food, too – soups and sandwiches and pasties. You can go in there and sit in one of the booths or at the counter and enjoy a meal in a pleasant, low-key, kinda quaint environment where time feels like it is standing still – in a good way. Because time moves too quickly sometimes, doesn’t it?

There’s a massively popular corporate-chain donut/coffee shop right next to the Donut Factory. I like this chain; I frequented it regularly at one point in my past. But when I see this chain store parked next to the Donut Factory, a humble, locally-owned establishment cranking out fried rings of pure deliciousness at a 24/7 pace, I feel like shaking my fist at them and screaming, “No! No! You will not threaten the Donut Factory!” I mean, not cool, corporate chain, not cool.

But the profound thing about buying power is that we can decide which place of the two we want to support with our dollars – or whether we want to support both. It’s our choice. So the next time you’re in the 12 Mile-and-Mound area and feel like doing a little experiment, give ’em both a taste test and see what you think. For the record, my vote is with the Donut Factory.

28805 Mound Rd.

Warren, MI 48092

227. Rockin’ Cupcakes – January 27, 2017 – Rochester Hills, MI

20170127_133037-220170127_133721-2Ummm . . . I feel like the cupcakes in the photo above speak for themselves. Are they glorious or what??? That is SIX different varieties of chocolate cupcake you are seeing, including one with a caramel center; one with peanut butter buttercream, chocolate coating, and crushed pretzels; and another, as the menu describes it, with “Red wine infused chocolate cake, filled with red wine chocolate ganache, and topped with wine infused buttercream” – YOW! (That one was AWESOME.)

I had a Groupon for Rockin’ Cupcakes, the place where I got these exquisite dollops of perfection, and the Friday before last, on my brother’s birthday, I thought, here is an excuse to use this bad boy. On my lunch break, I headed out to Rochester Hills and the bakery’s tiny, colorful storefront, tucked within a sprawling plaza next to Papa Joe’s market.

I already knew its cupcakes were going to be awesome because I’d tried them before. For my birthday last October, a coworker brought me some of Rockin’ Cupcakes’ wares. Because I didn’t set foot in the place to get those baked goods, I didn’t count it then for my blog (my rule is that I have to physically visit a new-to-me place in order for it to be valid). But the moist and decadent cupcakes I had then convinced me I needed to go.

It was so fun to step away from work and into this cheery shop to muse over which mouthwatering varieties with the classic rock-themed names (Paint it Black, Yellow Submarine, The Rolling Stone) I was going to pick for my half-dozen. The pleasant young woman working the counter took the time to describe the cupcakes, helping me to decide. In the end, I purchased the chocolate assortment, because chocolate is LIIIIIFE. Luckily, my brother and other family members I shared them with are pretty keen on it, too.

Everyone exclaimed over how rich and moist the cupcakes were. That buttercream frosting – killer!

Worth noting: Rockin’ Cupcakes is open Mondays through Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., but according to its website, if it runs out of cupcakes before the formal closing time, it will close early. So it wouldn’t hurt to call the shop before you visit to make sure it’s open.

6906 N. Rochester Rd.

Rochester Hills, MI 48306

www.rockincupcakesrochester.com

208. Natalie’s Bakery – November 19, 2016 – Madison Heights, MI

20161119_124358-220161119_124522img_1255-2Hello, all! I have missed you! Over two weeks passed where I didn’t explore any new places. I was getting antsy!

With the increasingly shorter days, it’s been a struggle for me to choose what I’m going to do with my scarce and precious weekend daylight hours. I’ve had to be quite intentional. The weekend prior to this past one, I ran myself ragged using the time to cook and photograph three new recipes for my food blog, A Cookable Feast. This weekend was scheduled to be just as busy, with a first birthday party on Saturday and a family Thanksgiving event on Sunday. But I was determined to fit some exploring in! So en route to the birthday party in Royal Oak Saturday, I stopped at Natalie’s Bakery, located in a strip mall on John R. near 13 Mile Road in Madison Heights.

Natalie’s had on my list for a while. I’d stumbled across it on Yelp, where reviewers had given it high praise, and I’m a sucker for quality baked goods (who isn’t?). And what a gem it is! It was hard not to get excited in that tiny bakery storefront, with its shelves crammed with delectable-looking bakery items: caramel-laced cakes, colorful French macaroons, pumpkin mousse-filled fried croissant squares. “Pumpkin mousse-filled fried croissant squares?” Yes, for real – and soooo good; I bought one, and it was as INSANE as I’d imagined it, all fried cinnamony dough and rich pumpkin-y mousse. You can see it in the photo of the bakery case above.

And then there was the bread.

The bread! I love a solid artisan loaf of bread – but again, who doesn’t? In fact, the bread was a big part of why I was at Natalie’s Bakery. I wanted to stop and get some loaves for the Thanksgiving stuffing recipe I’m preparing to create for A Cookable Feast this week. The selection didn’t disappoint. I decided on the rosemary garlic ciabatta bread and the seven-grain bread, both shown above. Both are excellent, especially the ciabatta bread with those distinct savory flavors. After being reminded of how satisfying fresh-baked bread is, I mused, why am I not stopping and getting handmade loaves of bread every week?

Bread gets a bad rap these days. But when it’s baked with fresh ingredients such as the ones Natalie’s uses – it prides itself on using organic and local sources whenever possible – I can’t see how it can be all that bad. These breads are echelons above the sorry processed loaves that dominate grocery store shelves.

31023 John R. Rd.
Madison Heights, MI 48017

www.nataliesbakery.net

172. Avalon International Breads – April 17, 2016 – Detroit, MI

20160417_10395920160417_10410420160417_10421320160417_104347Hello, all! Happy Thursday to you! The weekend – and time for more exploring – is within our sights!!!

Two weekends ago, on an incredibly gorgeous Sunday morning (remember that fantastic weekend where temps got into the 70s, my fellow locals, and we could actually turn our heat off for a few days? It was glorious, right?), I decided it was time for another jaunt down to the D. This time it was to visit The Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Company’s Midtown location and Avalon International Breads. While I was scouting for parking near Great Lakes Coffee (which abuts ol’ construction-tattered Woodward), I stumbled upon Avalon and a plum slot within the small row of free parking spots in front of it. Sweet Lady Luck! I knew the two were super-close in proximity (about a third of a mile), but damn, that worked out perfectly! I made the bakery my first visit.

Stepping across Avalon’s threshold, I got that familiar rush of excitement and local pride I get when I enter a bustling, gorgeously hipster-y Detroit establishment. Look at all these cool people and cool stuff! Locally made jams! Handmade breads and baked goods made with only organic flour! I joined the long line flanking the front counter, which moved surprisingly quickly; the Avalon staff works like a well-oiled machine! A loaf of Farnsworth Family Farm sourdough and a slab of frosted carrot cake made it into my bag, both of which proved to be quite delicious. I especially enjoyed slathering the slices of sourdough with butter and the locally made Gus & Grey Southern Lovin’ Blackberry Bourbon Vanilla Jam I picked up during my visit to Parker Street Market back in February (OBSESSED with that jam – it’s phenomenal – out of it and need to grab more!).

422 W. Willis St.

Detroit, MI 48201

www.avalonbreads.net

170. Half-Baked Bakery – March 27, 2016 – Harrison Twp., MI

20160326_141531Harrison Township represented on the blog! What what!

As revealed in my Year Two Review, my goal for Year Three is to visit at least one place residing in a new-to-the-blog city each month. I didn’t accomplish this for February (wah wah), but I got March covered with a visit to the lovely little Half-Baked Bakery on Jefferson Ave., where I procured one of the best pieces of carrot cake I have ever had in my life. Behold!

20160326_182412

Half-Baked Bakery’s crazy-good carrot cake with cream cheese icing

This cake was pretty glorious – all moist and rich and studded not only with shredded carrot, but also walnuts, pineapple, raisins, and shredded coconut. AMAZING!

The whimsical little shop with a pleasant granny feel to it (owed in large part to the handmade craft items for sale decking its walls) sells not only baked goods such as the carrot cake, lemon bars, cookies, etc., it also offers soups, salads, and a wide variety of sandwiches. Plus it takes custom cake orders, creating some seriously elaborate confections.

Worth mentioning: Half-Baked’s hours of operation are limited; it is closed on Sundays and Mondays and only open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. the rest of the week. But if you can take a chance to steal away and check out some of its goodies, do it. It’s very close to Metro Beach, so you can have your run at Metro and then conveniently jaunt on over to Half-Baked for a bit of a (totally justified) reward!

39667 Jefferson Ave.

Harrison Twp., MI 48045

168. Give Thanks Bakery – March 19, 2016 – Rochester, MI

20160319_12352720160319_12384420160319_124727Happy Saturday, guys!!!! Today I headed over to downtown Rochester to visit a place I’ve wanted to go for months and months and months now, Give Thanks Bakery, a delightful little European-style bakery/café serving delicious fresh-baked pastries and breads and cakes and coffee drinks. Because heaven is an almond croissant and a cappuccino – or a margarita-laced Tigers game in mid-summer (almost here!!!). I’d take either, really.

You guys, Rochester is lovely, but traffic is crazy out there! OMG, what a cluster today!  Once I exited M-59 and turned right onto Rochester Road to head north, it was like every single person who lives in that area was out on the roads at once. OK, obviously that is an exaggeration, but not really. It was cray. It made the congestion of the Hall Road area where I live look like child’s play. Downtown Rochester was just as jammed, but the Universe was benevolent and delivered me an excellent parking spot behind the bakery after just a few minutes of circling. ~Sigh of sweet relief.~

Give Thanks was a welcome oasis of calm amid all of the chaos. Sitting at one of the three little marble-topped tables, savoring my croissant and my cappuccino in its tiny cup, I mentally regrouped. I soaked up the ambiance – the friendly chatter, the pleasant oldie standards (songs by Etta James, Frank Sinatra). Families with cute, energetic children filtered in and out, and obvious regulars interacted warmly with the staff. It was lovely.

You should go and savor a piece of that loveliness! And a chocolate croissant (I’m into croissants, as you can see). But be sure to get there early – Give Thanks is only open until 2 p.m. on Saturdays and until 3 p.m. Tuesday through Friday (it’s closed Sundays and Mondays).

225 S. Main St.

Rochester, MI 48307

www.givethanksbakery.com

 

 

167. Sister Pie – February 27, 2016 – Detroit, MI

20160227_12284420160227_12355620160227_123646Pie! Who doesn’t love a delicious piece of pie? It’s cozy and comforting, especially on a chilly winter’s day, accompanied by a hot cup of coffee or tea. Yum!

After my visit to Parker Street Market yesterday, I headed across the street to Sister Pie in search of a slice of its fabled wares. This pie shop/bakery looms large in my mind, literally. I was introduced to it by a large billboard that once ran along I-94 that I passed (creeped along in a cluster of rush-hour traffic is more like it) daily on my way to my then-job in Dearborn. The billboard was touting it as the winner of a local entrepreneurial grant competition (Hatch Detroit). I was intrigued, not only because I love local small businesses and supporting them, but also because I appreciate a well-constructed baked good (it’s a legitimate art form in my book!). Sister Pie was added to my list of places to visit.

Apparently, this bakery was on a lot of other Metro-Detroiters’ lists, too. The bright little shop’s tables were crammed with people on my visit there yesterday afternoon. Fortunately there was a space open for me, at a high-top table with no chairs, where I stood and enjoyed the custardy, silky-sweet, salty goodness of a slice of salted maple. Two other pies were also being featured yesterday: a chocolate one called Red Hot Chocolate and a lemon meringue. Wanting some take-home treats, I also purchased an assortment of cookies – a triple chocolate one, a peanut butter-and-paprika, and a snickerdoodle-fennel seed – as well as a slice of pear- and chocolate-studded coffee cake. All were delicious in their own right, but the coffee cake and the snickerdoodle-and-fennel-seed cookie were especially memorable. I love when bakers and chefs aren’t afraid to experiment with flavors. Fennel seeds in a cookie, for instance, might sound odd, but they were the perfect complement to the cinnamony sweetness of the snickerdoodle.

So Sister Pie gets a major gold star in my book for deliciousness and inventiveness of its wares (and offering a pie with a crisp, non-soggy crust – holla, blind-baking!). Just as important, it also gets major props for ambiance. There was a convivial air to the place yesterday, a sense of connection. The staff members who helped me were friendly and obviously enjoyed being there, joking with each other as they worked; the woman who rang me up came over to me later to see how I liked the pie. When I’d explained to her in my excitement as I approached the counter that I was new to the place, a sixty-something guy who was obviously a regular overheard me and exclaimed, “You’re gonna love it!” I have a major soft spot for places full of friendliness, enthusiasm, welcomeness – maybe because the field that I work in in my day job doesn’t evoke those feelings in me nearly enough. I think we are all seeking to inhabit such inviting havens in our lives – ideally as places we work and hang out in on the regular, but at the very least, where we can stop in once in a while and savor a slice of pie.

8066 Kercheval St.

Detroit, MI 48214

www.sisterpie.com

158. Donut Bar + Coffee – January 9, 2016 – Southfield, MI

20160109_08240220160109_082739Donut Bar + Coffee = I’m OBSESSED. I was intrigued when I recently read about this specialty donut shop, which opened last summer, in an issue of Hour Detroit. Looking it up on Yelp, I saw reviews were mixed; some people were loving the donuts, and others said they were overhyped. So of course I had to go see for myself what these little fried dough nuggets were all about. The verdict? These are some damn good donuts!

OK, the tres leches one I got was PHENOMENAL. I’m more of a chocolate gal myself, so I probably wouldn’t have chosen that one if I hadn’t seen someone on Yelp raving about it. But I did not regret my choice; it was melt-in-your-mouth rich and creamy, exactly the way a tres leches donut should be. And the peanut-butter banana one! – I believe it was aptly called the Fat Elvis – that one was also amazing! It was stuffed with banana-flavored custard, slathered with peanut-butter frosting, and sprinkled with chopped nuts. Peanut butter is practically an addiction for me, so I was definitely digging that one. Even the more traditional donut I bought, the plain one with chocolate frosting and some little crispies on top, was quite good. So for me, Donut Bar + Coffee definitely lived up to the hype! I can’t speak to the coffee part of the deal, because I didn’t get one, but the donuts were glorious.

29039 Southfield Rd.

Southfield, MI 48076

www.donutbardetroit.com