Cville Sweets Round-Up: The Baked Edition

Posted on July 31, 2013 by

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A spoonful of sugar makes the Sweet Tooth happy. And lucky for the Sweet Tooth folks out there, Cville has spoonful upon spoonful of sugar to satisfy those cravings – especially in the baked goods department. Cupcake shops and bakeries are abundant in Cville, yet each one thrives and carries a unique brand and product.

For a round-up of Cville’s (baked) sweets, I visited Albemarle Baking Company, Sweethaus, Paradox Pastry, Pearl’s Bake Shoppe, and Great Harvest. Each shop shared their insights on pastry trends, the classics, favorite summer ingredients, and what makes Charlottesville such a special city for sweet-tooth lovers.

abc counterGerry Newman, Albemarle Baking Company

A Charlottesville staple since 1995, Albemarle Baking Company is sweet and savory, filled with Princess cakes, cheesecakes, and fruit tarts, to peach pies, scones, and the best baguette in town. Gerry shared his insights on pastry innovation, and his personal favorites.

Food, like fashion, often cycles through “trends,” from Cupcakes to Macarons everywhere, and now, even a Cronut in NYC! Dare to predict the next sweet-tooth trend?

If you believe fashion runs in ten or twenty year cycles, you might say the same for food.  Cupcakes are a great  example of that. I can’t make any predictions, but I would not be surprised to see Rice Krispie treats (and variations on that classic) become the next dessert food trend.

What are some sweet-tooth staples in your pastry world? The classics that deserve their long-term demand?

I think Napoleons and Eclairs are wonderful tried and true classics.  Like a baguette, there are very few ingredients to make these items. Those ingredients need to be of the highest quality and prepared with plenty of skill and care for all of the elements to shine.

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Have you heard of the innovation from Dominique Ansel in NYC? The Cronut Craze, and the new Frozen S’more hit! What are your thoughts on pastry innovation, and the current pastry trends?

I’m very familiar with Cronuts and think they are a very clever creation.  The man I apprenticed with has a bakery in the Phoenix area and his daughter has a chocolate shop next door.  They started making them recently.  I think Chef Ansel has a very interesting line of Cronuts with wonderful flavor combinations.  It is quite amazing that folks stand in long lines for them the way they do in New York. Good for Chef Ansel!

Favorite summer sweet?

My favorite summer sweet is Peach Ice Cream.

Favorite summer ingredient?

Favorite summer ingredient is Italian Plums.  The season is very short, so we try to use them in as many things as possible.  One favorite is a German coffee cake called Pflaumekuchen or Plum Cake.  We feature that on Fridays and Saturdays through the season.

Easy summer treat to make at home?

An easy treat to make at home is cobbler.  It is a great thing to make with your family because family members can all participate in preparation, including picking fruit or berries.

There are many incredible bakeries in Charlottesville, each with their unique flare and diverse offering of sweets (I’m salivating just thinking about them all!). What makes it “work” in a city like Charlottesville?

I would say being true to yourself and your product.  Buy the best ingredients you can, and treat them with respect. I am always grateful to our wonderful customers and am happy we all live together in this vibrant, entertaining city.

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sweethaus 1Tara Koenig, Sweethaus

When Sweethaus opened in the fall of 2011, we couldn’t help but be smitten by Tara’s sweetness, from her welcoming personality to cupcakes to jars of candy to the rustic-vintage interior. Now at a bigger location on West Main two years later, the shop still carries the same charm, as well as outdoor seating and a large event space for birthdays and more. Tara shared her bakery favorites, and a delicious recipe, too!

Food, like fashion, often cycles through “trends,” from Pho joints to Macarons everywhere, cupcakes to mini cupcakes, and now, even a Cronut in NYC! Dare to predict the next sweet-tooth trend?

One trend that seems to span across all cuisine, savory and sweet alike, is the salty/sweet trend, and it’s one that I hope sticks around for a while.  The salted caramel is our best selling cupcake.  It’s chocolate and vanilla marble cake topped with caramel buttercream, a dollop of chocolate frosting, a sprinkling of sea salt & a drizzle of caramel.  Sinful!

I had a friend in town from California a few weeks ago telling me all about all the weed bakeries in LA.  Marijuana candy, cupcakes, cake pops, brownies.  I think that’ll be the biggest sweet food trend EVER once it’s legalized in every state!

What are some sweet-tooth staples in your baking world? The classics that deserve their long-term demand?

A good, solid buttercream frosting is my absolute staple.  It can be flavored in any way, it makes an amazing filling, and truth be told, you can eat it with a spoon. No cupcake necessary.  We use all natural unsalted butter, confectioners sugar, a ton of Madagascar bourbon vanilla and half & half.  All pure deliciousness.

Also, the perfect chocolate chip cookie.  We are offering ice cream sandwiches put between our home-baked cookies, and also just started making a chocolate chip cookie dough frosting.  It’s off the chain!

sweethaus cupcake display

Have you heard of the innovation from Dominique Ansel in NYC? The Cronut Craze, and the new Frozen S’more hit! What are your thoughts on pastry innovation, and the current pastry trends?

This might sound like a deflection, but I really don’t keep up with crazes.  When people call cupcakes “trendy,” I have to laugh, because cupcakes have been around for centuries. Everybody likes anything miniaturized!  We all ate cupcakes as kids, and we will all serve them to our kids & grandkids, therefore they aren’t going anywhere. When I’m in NYC, I am all about trying all the fun stuff they have to offer, but back here in Cville, I don’t really keep up with it all.

Favorite summer sweet?

Milkshakes.  Better than ice cream. Specifically chocolate shakes from The Nook – got me through my pregnancy.

Favorite summer ingredient?

Lime. Loving our key lime cupcakes we make with fresh lime juice and zest.

Easy summer treat to make at home?

Orange popsicles.  Freeze some OJ. Done!

There are many incredible bakeries in Charlottesville, each with their unique flare and diverse offering of sweets (I’m salivating just thinking about them all!). What makes it “work” in a city like Charlottesville?

Being a university town means that Cville will always attract intellectuals, artists, medical professionals, and young people.  That is a dynamic combination of people who enjoy coming together to socialize, entertain and throw events.  And all those people need sweets for their events!

If the Charlottesville sweet-tooth scene was high school, what superlative would Sweethaus win?

Tie between “Most Changed from Freshman Year” & “Most Friendly.”

BONUS RECIPE!

This is one of my all time favorite sweet breakfast recipes >> The Dutch Baby.

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paradox frontJenny Peterson, Paradox Pastry

Paradox Pastry is filled with Sugaristas floating on clouds of powdered sugar and sprinkles. No, but really, since the doors at Paradox opened in The Glass Building, Jenny has christened her team “Sugaristas.” And, boy, do those Sugaristas know how to bake! Jenny shares her “delightfully absurd” perspective on pastry trends, her favorites, and the “mindset of abundance” among the Cville bakeries.

Food, like fashion, often cycles through “trends,” from Pho joints to Macarons everywhere, cupcakes to mini cupcakes, and now, even a Cronut in NYC! Dare to predict the next sweet-tooth trend?

Yikes! I haven’t a clue – my creative mind right now is on about 15 wedding and studio cake designs I need to do!

What are some sweet-tooth staples in your pastry world? The classics that deserve their long-term demand?

Ahhhhh, we Sugaristas love our old fashioned hand pies (or turnovers, call them what you will). Ours are made with our flaky American pie dough and whatever fillings float our boats for the day. Right now, we’ve been groovin’ on the peach blueberry, but the Back in Blackberry is a house favorite as well as the lemon. The crust is tender and flaky with just a bit of raw sugar on the outside to give you taste buds a tickle. They’re one of my favorite breakfast items at Paradox.

And, of course, layer cakes. They’re so classically perfect. Just the right amount of buttercream between each layer of cake- each bite brings both sensations perfectly together.

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Have you heard of the innovation from Dominique Ansel in NYC? The Cronut Craze, and the new Frozen S’more hit! What are your thoughts on pastry innovation, and the current pastry trends?

I think innovation is really wonderful and certainly keeps those who are always searching for the next best thing happy, but I’m pretty old fashioned in my pastry tastes and not so keen on fads and crazes. If someone brought me a Cronut, I’d certainly eat it and probably really enjoy it, but i’m not standing in line for an hour for a doughnut! For me, dessert is about comfort, relaxing, remembering your childhood, smiling satisfactorily. Anything that whips people into a frenzy is probably not going to last long and is going to leave you more amped up than truly satisfied. Just my silly opinion!

paradox 2Favorite summer sweet?

Fresh peaches eaten leaning over the sink and anything with blackberries in it!

Favorite summer ingredient?

Again, blackberries!

Easy summer treat to make at home?

Um, I’m never home and always just eat at the bakery. But if pressed, a fresh baguette with Nutella – classic perfection 12 months of the year. ‘Nuff said!

There are many incredible bakeries in Charlottesville, each with their unique flare and diverse offering of sweets (I’m salivating just thinking about them all!). What makes it “work” in a city like Charlottesville?

Everyone has their own thing and I think we all support each other in that. I don’t hesitate to send someone to ABC if they’re looking for baguettes or rustic breads or Sweet Haus or Capellino’s for cupcakes (we don’t have them in our case and only do them for special orders) or Great Harvest if it’s whole grain, sandwich type bread they’re looking for. Charlottesville is pretty incredible in the extensive “cross pollination” I see among the chefs in town. It is a mindset of abundance. Very neat.

If the Charlottesville sweet-tooth scene was high school, what superlative would Paradox Pastry win?

“Most Likely to Be Sent to the Principal’s Office” – We tend to be a little rogue and unpredictable!! 😉

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2013-06-23 16.33.20Laurie Blakey, Pearl’s Bake Shoppe

Just a few short months ago, this Richmond bake shoppe sprouted branches and opened a new location on West Main, complete with adorable pink chairs and cupcakes in every variety. Co-owner Laurie shares her insights on the trends of the baking world, and her favorite sweet treats (She had us at basil ice cream!).

Food, like fashion, often cycles through “trends,” from Pho joints to Macarons everywhere, cupcakes to mini cupcakes, and now, even a Cronut in NYC! Dare to predict the next sweet-tooth trend?

I think people are expecting more farm fresh ingredients, which is what we’re all about at Pearl’s. We use fresh ingredients in all our products. Local bacons, local wines, local berries, local herbs and cheeses. I think we’re going to see more of a farm to table presence in the pastry bakery industry in the near future.

What are some sweet-tooth staples in your baking world? The classics that deserve their long-term demand?

You can’t go wrong with a carrot cake or red velvet cupcake. Brownies and cookies of all different flavors will always be staples. Vanilla cake with chocolate icing and doughnuts.

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Have you heard of the innovation from Dominique Ansel in NYC? The Cronut Craze, and the new Frozen S’more hit! What are your thoughts on pastry innovation, and the current pastry trends?

Being as pastry art is a science mixed with artistic endeavor, it is constantly evolving with products that are as unique as their creators. My thoughts on cronuts – even though I have not had the opportunity to partake in one – is that the concept is genius.

NEXT TREND: different flavors of candied bacon.

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Favorite summer sweet?

My favorite summer sweet is a basil ice-cream that I make at home. I’ve been growing all my herbs in my backyard: everything from apple mint to pineapple mint.

Favorite summer ingredient?

I love combing the farmer’s market on the weekend. During the summer, I do my best to blend local and fresh herbs into my dishes. I’m a big fan of rosemary and basil, and berries and stone fruits especially peaches are some of my faves. I’ve also been a huge lover of fresh figs.

Easy summer treat to make at home?

Strawberry gallette with a basil cream

There are many incredible bakeries in Charlottesville, each with their unique flare and diverse offering of sweets (I’m salivating just thinking about them all!). What makes it “work” in a city like Charlottesville?

It’s all about connecting with the community and creating pastries that appeal to the gourmet palette.

If the Charlottesville sweet-tooth scene was high school, what superlative would Pearl’s win?

Most Likely To – We’re willing to make anything. If someone came in asking for a special ice cream, I would be in the back of my kitchen trying to perfect it with my ice cream maker.

BONUS RECIPE: Grandma Pearl’s Hot Melt Shortcake

1/2 cup milk / 1 tablespoon butter / 2 eggs / 1 cup sugar / 1 cup flour / 1 teaspoon baking powder / 1/4 teaspoon salt / 1 teaspoon vanilla

Heat milk and shortening to boiling point. Beat eggs until creamy; add other ingredients. Add milk last and bake at 350 degrees. Serve with homemade whipped cream and fresh berries or peaches.

 

great harvest 1Kath Younger & Matt Monson, Great Harvest Bread Company

Kath and Matt opened Great Harvest after falling in love with Cville, and now their bakery holds a special place in the heart of McIntire Plaza, right alongside Cville Coffee and Carpe Donut. This husband and wife duo share their thoughts on bakery innovation, home-style baked classics, and the Cville bakery scene.

Food, like fashion, often cycles through “trends,” from Pho joints to Macarons everywhere, cupcakes to mini cupcakes, and now, even a Cronut in NYC! Dare to predict the next sweet-tooth trend? (I’m a personal fan of the scuffin trend, which we thought we created – ha! – until we saw them at Great Harvest!)

Like the Cronut, we think hybrid creations are going to continue to boom. We do love our scuffins – a blend of muffins and scones. We make both sweet and savory ones. We found out that our Spinach Feta Scuffins are a favorite of the Sweet Haus Bakery staff!

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What are some sweet-tooth staples in your baking world? The classics that deserve their long-term demand?

We strive to hear customers say “That’s the best cookie/brownie/muffin I’ve ever tasted!” so we are always tweaking our recipes to make the best in their category. Our goal is to make downhome, American style sweets. This means we’re making the kind of stuff people bake themselves at home. We think we make an amazing classic oatmeal chocolate chip cookie, and our Cosmic Brownies are out of this world – dense, fudgy and packed with chocolate chunks. Pumpkin Chocolate Chip muffins will never leave our menu!

Have you heard of the innovation from Dominique Ansel in NYC? The Cronut Craze, and the new Frozen S’more hit! What are your thoughts on pastry or baking innovation, and the current baking trends?

More power to ‘em for creating something unique and delicious! We love to eat as much as we love to bake, so want to try a Cronut soon. American cuisine has recently been leaning towards the next unique flavor combination or production technique. It’s hard to say which things will be passing fads and what will be the next timeless dessert.

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Favorite summer sweet?

Our Savannah bars are perfect for summer. They are like fruit cobbler in bar form with a coconut oat crust and a whole grain crumble topping.

Favorite summer ingredient?

Tomatoes and basil from our garden – picked in heaps and combined into an amazing BLT on our Dakota bread.

Easy summer treat to make at home?

Banana soft serve! Just take frozen bananas and pulverize them in a food processor and they turn into “ice cream.”

There are many incredible bakeries in Charlottesville, each with their unique flare and diverse offering of sweets (I’m salivating just thinking about them all!). What makes it “work” in a city like Charlottesville?

Charlottesvillians are into quality ingredients and real food made from scratch. They aren’t likely to buy bread from a grocery store shelf that may have traveled thousands of miles from where it was baked. Instead they are willing to make that extra stop for locally baked bread and dessert. On the surface there are a lot of bakeries here, but each fills its own niche and has its followers. There’s a pretty friendly camaraderie between the bakeries as well.

If the Charlottesville sweet-tooth scene was high school, what superlative would Great Harvest win?

“Best Smile” – Because customer service is our pride and we hope to see our customers grinning ear to ear when they step in our doors and taste our bread and sweets.

great harvest counter

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