Some might say that following a recipe is like an equation. You add items together to create a new (and sometimes tasty) sum.
Queen of the Boston bakeries, Chef Joanne Chang of Flour Bakery + Café and Myers + Chang certainly agrees. With a Harvard College degree in Applied Mathematics and Economics, this creative mind left her management consultant career for the kitchen. Soon things started adding up – it was the right decision.
With pastry chef skills from Cambridge’s Rialto, Boston’s Mistral and New York City’s Payard Patisserie and Bistro (now closed), Chang opened Flour Bakery + Cafe in 2000. Her breakfast pastries, breads, cakes, cookies, and sandwiches soon became Boston’s go-to treats, and three locations followed.
Just like good coffee that pairs with pastry, the accolades started pouring in. Flour was featured in Food & Wine, Bon Appetit, New York Times, a Food Network Throwdown with Bobby Flay (Chang’s sticky buns won), and she also authored three cookbooks.
No trip to Boston would be complete without visiting Chang’s world-renowned restaurants and cafes, but when you’ve worked your way through her menus it might be time to explore some of Boston’s other pastry emporiums. With her wealth of knowledge and experience, we couldn’t think of anyone better to recommend the best Boston bakeries to try on your next trip.
Cupcakes: With Dunkin’ Donuts aplenty, it’s nice when another confection gets props. With six locations, Sweet Bakery pays homage to the cupcake. From chocolate to cherry cheesecake, they offer gluten-free, vegan and a range of other flavours. “The decor is charming. The cupcakes are baked fresh each day, and you can tell,” says Chang.
Good conversation: Chang catches up with friends at Sorellina. “The atmosphere is elegant without being pretentious. It’s a great place to meet a friend for a long catch-up conversation,” she says. “You’ll be welcomed with open arms.” With a modern take on Italian-Mediterranean cuisine and warm, inviting décor, make sure you leave room for their warm molten chocolate cake.
Cup of coffee: Chang isn’t alone in praising Render‘s cup of java. Widely regarded as one of America’s best coffee shops, this petite bar brews pour-overs; a four-minute process that translates to a richer cup. “It’s a personal, sweet coffee shop with great service and incredible coffee,” Chang adds.
Birthday cake: Chang celebrates with Chinatown’s no-frills Eldo Cake House. “They have light sponge cakes filled with fruit and cream that are always decorated nicely and in a great selection of flavours,” she says.
Sunday brunch: “I could eat brunch there every Sunday,” says Chang of Sam’s at Louis. With the famous Louis of Boston store closing, this eatery sadly loses its spectacular water views, but thankfully it’ll bring its amazing baked goods and brunch dishes (think baked banana caramel French toast) to a neighbouring building this summer.
Danish and newspaper: Cafe Madeleine, a new South End French patisserie, offers an open kitchen, perfect for watching the chefs prepare treats like Pain au Chocolat or Candied Orange Tropezienne. Chang’s warning: Seating is limited, but “if you can snag one, you’ll be rewarded with great people watching.”
Freshly baked bread: One of the top Boston bakeries for bread lovers, Chang heads to Clear Flour for fresh-out-of-the-oven loaves. That is, when she doesn’t want her own. “This is my favourite bakery that isn’t Flour,” she laughs. “They’re true artisan bakers, and are well known in Boston for their bread and treats for good reason.”
Chocolate chip cookies: Even though Chang loves all of Crema Café‘s cookies (they have a wide selection, along with whoopee pies, coconut macaroons and vegan biscotti), Chang says, “You can’t go wrong with their classic chocolate chip.”
If you’re looking to explore the best Boston bakeries, Chef Joanne Chang’s selection takes you from morning coffee to aprés-dinner dessert.
Virgin Atlantic operates daily flights to Boston from London Heathrow, making it easy to enjoy these Boston bakeries.
Have you been to any of these Boston bakeries? Which is your favourite? Let us know in the comments section below.
Written by Cheryl Fenton