In the 16th and 17th centuries, the skills of the pastry chef were added to those of the bread maker so that in modern Britain (as opposed to France), domestic and commercial bakers used the talents of both. Though the lines have been blurred, the benefit of combining these two trades mean extra goodness at several establishments throughout the Valley. Here are 15 of our favorites.
15.) Essence Bakery Cafe
This sunny spot of upscale comfort food and delectable sweet treats in Tempe comes courtesy of chef Eugenia Theodosopoulos, who honed her pastry skills in Paris, and her husband Gilles Combes. Delights like homemade cookies, mini desserts, and crave-able raisin, almond, and chocolate croissants line the pastry case, but it is the French macarons, in rotating flavors like mint, caramel cream, pumpkin spice, and pink grapefruit, that Essence is most famous for.
14.) Treehouse Bakery
Billing itself as offering "scrumptious vegan delights," Corianne Sizemore launched her vegan-friendly bakery business in 2010. And while customers will have to wait until Sizemore opens a retail bakery shop, they can can pick up her organic, non-egg, and dairy-free vegan cupcakes (try the mocha latte with espresso buttercream frosting or the red velvet), cookies, muffins, pies, and "uncheesecakes" every second and fourth Saturday at the Downtown Public Market.
13.) Karsh's Bakery
This unpretentious kosher bakery on the northeast corner of Seventh Street and Missouri has been around since the 1960s. Using Old World ingredients and offering both pareve
(non dairy) and dairy products, breads -- including "the best rye bread in town," -- share the spotlight with a variety of cakes topped with hand mixed icings, piles of cookies, napoleons, and rugalach
, and mondel
bread (biscotti). There's no seating here, so grab your goodies fresh and ready to go.
12.) Honey Moon Sweets
This Tempe establishment started in 1996 by husband and wife team Tim and Joan O'Connor bakes treats for more than 100 of Arizona's top restaurants, resorts, catering companies, and specialty food stores. A dessert bar offers guests a sweet eyeful of custom cakes (including beautiful wedding creations), cookies, breakfast pastries, pies -- even the trend-i-licious cake pops -- and behind-the-scenes bakery tours and free treats for the kiddies make for additional sweetness.
11.) Scratch Pastries & Bistro
Owners and Parisian transplants Duc and Noelle Liao have their own little piece of Paris at this bright and airy French patisserie and café in a Scottsdale strip mall. Along with a menu of croque madames
and savory crèpes, there's a glass pastry counter filled with croissants, butter cookies, raspberry, chocolate, and lemon tarts, French meringues, and éclairs in chocolate, caramel, and rose essence. Ooh-la-la!
10.) Karl's Quality Bakery and The Baker's Daughter
These Sunnyslope shops are next door to each other for good reason: It's a family thing. Karl Boerner, who hails from Switzerland, runs his bakery -- known for its alligator coffee cake, hand-dipped or -iced cookies, and blueberry and cream cheese muffins -- alongside his daughter Christine's chocolate and pastry café. Opened in 2010 and aptly named The Baker's Daughter, it features bars, gateaux, and swoon-worthy truffles.
9.) Barb's Bakery
This unassuming, family-owned bakery in Central Phoenix has been in business for over 30 years. In addition to delicious doughnuts, cookies, and muffins, the shop is most known for its beautiful wedding creations and custom cakes in flavors from devil's food and pink champagne; seasonal goodies like cupcakes and signature frosted cookies in playful shapes and colors; and Barb's signature carrot cake. Spicy and moist and loaded with nuts, it's a fan favorite.
8.) Arai Pastry
This Japanese and French bakery in Tempe opened in 2005, courtesy of Kenzo Arai, who makes desserts and breads for James Beard Award-winning chef Nobuo Fukada. A small shop with a selection that runs out in a hurry, the bakery is mainly for takeout or pre-orders of loaves of Japanese bread, cream puffs, cakes, and favorites like Japanese pans (light pastry buns filled with cream or meat), a green tea mousse sprinkled with sweet red bean, and strawberry cake.