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Where to Eat the Best Baked Goods in the U.S.

Anna Mowry

March 13, 2017

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The well-traveled Mitchell Davis, JBF’s executive vice president, probably logs more miles—and restaurant reservations—than anyone else on our staff. When we asked him to share a short list of his favorite baked goods from around the country, he balked at the task. But eventually, after much hemming and hawing, he whittled dozens of favorites down to a tidy half dozen. Now that he’s done the hard work for you, just keep this list on hand for your own travels. 

Crème Brûlée Doughnut
The Doughnut Plant, NYC
“The Doughnut Plant beats just about any modern, creative, ‘gourmet’ doughnut shop I’ve ever visited, and the deal was sealed with my first bite of their crème brûlée doughnut—rich, vanilla-filled pastry cream inside a delicate yeast-raised puff with a burnt sugar topping. Decadent but small enough to enjoy without tremendous guilt.”

Lemon Meringue Cake
Tartine Bakery, San Francisco
“I could do without the cult-like attitude, the crowds, and the rules about how to wait on line, but I cannot do without Tartine Bakery’s lemon meringue cake, a rectangle of alternating layers of lemon-soaked génoise, lemon curd, and caramel that’s slathered in Italian meringue and torched.”

Rose and Pistachio Croissant 
The Daily, Charleston, SC
“I tend to avoid croissants—not because they aren’t delicious, but because I know how much butter goes into them. But the alluring combination of pistachio and rose in this special croissant at the Daily was too much for me to pass up.”

Baguette
Bread Furst, Washington, D.C.
“Earlier this year I had the luck of being one of the judges charged with selecting the best baguette in the capital. Of all the delicious entries, Mark Furst’s ethereal baguettes were the clear winner, with an airy crumb, a pleasant crust, and a complex flavor of yeasted wheat.” 

Strawberry Shortcake
Beth’s Farm Market, Warren, ME
“Every time I find my way to Warren, Maine, which I try to do at least once a summer, I am blown away by the uber-deliciousness of this strawberry shortcake. The strawberries, which are grown on Beth’s farms, are sliced and left to macerate so they are juicy and flavorful, and the whole thing is covered with a large dollop of whipped cream, milked from Beth’s cows. Typing this now, I am salivating.” 

Honey Mesquite Cake
Pondicheri, Houston
“When I commented to the server that this cake was strikingly good, she let on that it was also gluten-free thanks to its mesquite flour, which is made from the dried and ground pods of the tree of the same name. I bought a second one right then for a gluten-intolerant colleague, and I have returned many times since to enjoy this cake for breakfast or dessert.”

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Anna Mowry is special projects manager at the James Beard Foundation. Find her on Twitter and Instagram.