Hunting down fresh baked goods worth the calorie intake is a feat requiring carbohydrate perseverance. Most often, we hear complaints from local pastry chefs about the water and the humidity, which can effectively drain the life out of breads and cakes. The cry-out for good pastry in Miami is guttural, like a wailing howl, "where does the buttery, flaky, goodness lie?"
Don't fret, from cupcakes filled with cream to rolls studded with jalapenos and
cheddar cheese, there are fantastic bakeries ranking high on the feel good scale of
consumption. You'll find surprising assortments within the city's gourmet grocery stores, authentic French patisserie, and naturally, a few that specialize in Cuban and Latin American delicacies.
Both sweet stalkers and savory loaf seekers will find a bakery to call home on our list of the city's top ten. If visions of frosting, chocolate and flour dance in your pastry filled head, this one is for you.
This gourmet grocery has a fairly impressive array of bakery items that reek of old school deli. Epicure is where you'll find a decent black and white cookie, rugelach just like Bubbi bakes, and classic 7-layer cake. Pick up a soft, doughy challah for fabulous French toast making, or a few fruit filled danish, drizzled with a smattering of thick white frosting. The cinnamon raisin loaves are outstanding, and this is the only place on our list to deliver a traditional rye bread.
9. El Brazo Fuerte Bakery
Pastelitos are the specialty at El Brazo Fuerte Bakery, stuffed with either a savory mix of beef, ham, or tuna, or the expected guava and cheese combo, this bakery does them well. Get a Pan de Bocadito (Pullman Bread) as well as pizza pastry so you can bring the bakery home to your own kitchen. From red velvet to chocolate, they bake up old fashioned looking birthday party buttercream cakes with lots of cute cartoon characters that would make any kid happy.
8. Karla Bakery
If you want the famous "ham bread," you will have to call it in, since it's only baked to order. But there are plenty of other breads and crackers always available at any of the Karla Bakery locations, ranging from Cuban bread to French baguettes, to multi-grain and pumpernickel. The "Dobosh" cake has seven individually baked layers intermittently slathered with an almond liquor scented buttercream frosting, and we highly recommend their "Gypsy" cake, a giant roll available in three flavors: cappuccino, chocolate and a dulce de leche version, which is heavenly.
7. Yiya's Gourmet Cuban Bakery and Cafe
Most important thing to know about Yiya's Gourmet Cuban Bakery is that it's super cheap, so you can walk away with a huge bag of goodies, minus the financial remorse. Meat and cheese savory pastries, custard and coconut sweet ones, cupcakes, cookies, Cuban flan, hardly anything on the baked goods line-up is over three dollars. That low as can be price point also applies to their global display of freshly baked breads, including Pan Gallego (a rustic Spanish loaf), Italian Ciabatta, and Indian Naan.
6. Le Royal French Bakery
Celebrated for pretty little tartlets and chosen as the winner of 2011's "Best Croissant," Le Royal French Bakery is an authentic taste of Paris in South Miami. This café opens early, 6:30 a.m., so if you want the freshest baguette and brioche, set your alarm (they have been known to run out of bakery wares by mid-afternoon). Croissants are stuffed with almonds, apples, ham; there's even an homage to our city's Latin and Cuban roots -- guava and cream cheese. Order a latte and get the pain au chocolat, a sweet way to start the day.
5. Fresh Market
The cake case at The Fresh Market has a wide scope of tarts and pastries, from chocolate mousse cups to traditional petits fours, but the peanut butter and chocolate "stack" reels us in every time. They have blueberry, cherry and peach pies made without any additives, just plain old sugar, fruit and flour. The crusts are crispy and the fillings are very 'state fair.' Speaking of crusty, the excellent bread offerings here range from fluffy jalapeno and cheddar rolls, to Italian Pane di Altamura with olive oil and sea salt.
4. Puerto Madero
Delicate curls of chocolate crown a mousse cake, glazed strawberries sit at full attention on top of a tart, and you'll find rows of candy colored cups filled with every creamy sweetness conceivable. Although Puerto Madero is technically an Argentinian market selling meat and wine, it is also a great place to order a special occasion cake, or get the entire sweet assortment delivered, they also do an incredible job at dessert catering.
3. Sweetness Bake Shop & Cafe
They make outrageously beautiful cakes that would put even Martha Stewart to shame, and the cupcake display alone could cause a sugar stroke. During the holidays, Sweetness Bake Shop makes an amazing bourbon pecan pie (with Makers Mark) that wins out over anything, anyone in your family could possibly bring to the table. Whoopie pies, bread pudding, brownies, cheesecake, fruits tarts, eclairs...the menu goes on and on, and on. You must try the "Twix" -- vanilla bean cake with salted caramel, topped with chocolate buttercream, toasted shortbread cookies and more salted caramel.
2. Solo Cafe and Patisserie at the Fontainebleau
This is where bakery fantasies come to play in Miami, because Solo Cafe and Patisserie is a wealth of sugary beauty on display. Executive Pastry Chef Jordi Panisello is a career pastry professional named one of the ten best in the U.S. by 'New York Times Magazine.' He imagines rainbow hued concoctions filled with creams and mousses, as well as cupcakes and croissants. The morning brings doughnuts, muffins, bear claws and cinnamon rolls, making this a sure spot for breakfast baked good cravings.
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1. Buena Vista Deli
The ideal bakery does both sweet and savory well, and this is why we choose Buena Vista Deli as our ultimate choice on the list. Buena Vista Deli's croissants are flaky perfection; their ciabatta loaves and baguettes to go, are first stop shopping for any bread aficionado.The French brioche is unrivaled locally by any other bakery, but they only have a few at a time, so call ahead (just in case we've already been there). And then there's the dessert spanning the bakery case - how does one choose between a puffy Paris-Brest with hazelnut cream, a chocolate layered Opera, or the ideal coffee eclair? It's just too much to ask of anyone, you will have to get them all.