It would be hard to argue that Raleigh-Durham is short on baking talent. From elaborate cakes to artisan breads, new and old baking styles can be found bakeries in the Triangle area.
While many in the area remain loyal to Cary’s Once in a Blue Moon Bakery and Café, a new cake baker has generated some buzz over the past couple of years. Raleigh’s home-based Crumb accepts special orders for its custom cakes and pies. Favorites include the Chupacabras cake (stout cake with raspberry tequila filling and Patrón XO buttercream) and the Atomic Fireball cupcakes (yellow cake doused with cinnamon-infused vodka and topped with cinnamon-infused vodka buttercream).
Ever since La Farm Bakery expanded from a smaller bakery into a full bakery-café in early 2009, Cary teenagers and soccer moms have lined up out the door at their local French bakery. Arguably borrowing from a concept made popular by national bakery-café chain Panera Bread, La Farm offers its French onion soup in a bread bowl and serves sandwiches on fresh baguettes, foccacia and ciabatta. La Farm’s bread is also sold at the State Farmers’ Market, as well as at Triangle-area Whole Foods stores.
While La Farm may have cornered the market on French bakery-cafés, Durham’s akes a German approach. Like La Farm, Guglhupf makes homemade bread a focal point on its bakery-café menu. Lunchtime sandwiches are served on “rustic house bread” and generous bread baskets accompany salads and European-inspired cheese plates. First-time diners should stop by the separate but onsite bakery before leaving to try the hearty brezel rolls and rich chocolate tarts.
Also in Durham, Loaf has expanded from its original farmer’s market distribution to a small brick-and-mortar location on Parrish Street. On any given day, customers may find novelty items like Paris Brest (choux pastry filled with hazelnut praline buttercream) or peanut butter pain au chocolate. Loaf is run by husband-and-wife team Ron and Jaime Graff.
Southern-inspired baking is also well represented in the Triangle. Scratch Baking serves lunch and weekend brunch at its brick-and-mortar location, but it’s perhaps best known for its pies. While the pie selections vary seasonally, Southern favorites like lemon chess and brown butter pecan are likely to be found on the menu. Scratch’s special-order holiday menu also includes quirky Southern treats like cheese straws and pigs in a blanket.
Of course, some local bakeries pre-date the current baking craze. Ninth Street Bakery in Durham has been in business for over two decades. Ninth Street casts a wide distribution net for its breads, which it sells to numerous grocers and restaurants throughout the Triangle. On its website, Ninth Street notably uses the tagline, “Local & organic since 1981–without all the hoopla!”
Laura Bastian is a freelance food and travel writer based in Durham, North Carolina.