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All Cookies. No Cutter.

14 Dec

Edgewood Bakery

Pity the poor child who has no concept of what a real bakery is beyond the refrigerator case at his local Publix supermarket.

Outside of major urban centers like New York, the classic old-school bakery–those corner-store emporiums of sweetness where recipes are treasured family secrets and the air is redolent of cinnamon and butter–are almost extinct. Here in Jacksonville, most of the city has to content itself with grocery chain bakeries that only pretend to prepare sweets on-site. (We’re not naming names, but most stores just ship in frozen sheet cake by the ton from central distribution centers and then decorate on-site to give the illusion of homemade.) That’s why Murray Hill’s iconic Edgewood Bakery is such a local treasure.

Established in 1947, Edgewood Bakery has been satisfying sweet tooths for more than sixty years. This mom-and-pop establishment at 1012 Edgewood Avenue South still makes everything from scratch using only the finest ingredients. The selection is downright dizzying, from bachelor buttons to Pfefferneuse, delicate tea cookies to raisen-studded cinnamon rolls, classic doughnuts to towering wedding cakes. Assorted breads are available, too, including honey wheat, sourdough and pumpernickel, along with a few sweet breads such as apple cinnamon and the popular seasonal pumpkin bread and gingerbread.

Coffee cakes, ready for the oven

Edgewood Bakery’s atmosphere is low-key and local. Friends gather for coffee and danishes and moms bring their children by after school for a quick treat. The bakery has expanded in recent years to offer a modest breakfast menu along with lunch offerings such as house-made soups, sandwiches and individual quiches. There’s also a small banquet hall out back for receptions and meetings.

But don’t assume that such a classic bakery has to be constrained to the common-place. Edgewood Bakery is justifiably famous for their fantastical cakes, which have won numerous awards (seriously, these folks could give the Cake Boss a run for his money). Just like any any good cookie, this bakery is full of surprises and sweet to the core.

Prize-winning cake depicting an American alligator

 

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It’ll be snowing in Springfield this weekend!

8 Dec

If you haven’t been to Springfield’s fabulous new candy emporium, Sweet Pete’s, you need to upend your plans for the weekend and put Sweet Pete’s at the top of your list. This is, hands down, the city’s most inventive and magical candy store, and it’s going to be even more magical this Saturday and Sunday because Santa is bringing his snowblower!

Housed in a brightly colored 100-year-old Victorian house, Sweet Pete’s is a cross between Pippi Longstocking’s Villa Villekulla and Willy  Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, with giant hand-painted candies decorating the walls, a bannister capped with a glowing gumball machine light, and huge metal flowers standing sentinel at the front door. The store is the brainchild of Peter Behringer who evidently was born with whimsy in his heart and sugar in his blood (he’s the namesake “Peter” of local Peterbrooke Chocolatier).

Sweet Pete's. photo credit: clipcrunch.com

Sweet Pete’s features an incredible array of homemade sweets, from fine chocolates and assorted candies to hand-pulled taffies, artisan marshmallows, caramels, gummies, lollipops in all shapes and old-time ice cream treats.  Their products contain no artificial flavors, colors or high-fructose syrup. The company also offers gluten free, vegan and organic sweets–they’ve even got vegan sundaes and 18 flavors of made-to-order organic cotton candy! Our favorite is the salted caramels, which are ridiculously addictive. Seriously.

This weekend, Sweet Pete’s is open on Saturday from 10:30 am to 5 pm, and Sunday from 12 pm to 5 pm. Kids can score free pictures with Santa & Mrs. Clause, and enjoy Candy Christmas story time. We bet snowball fights will be pretty popular, too.

Sweet Pete’s is located at 1922 Pearl Street, between West 9th and 10th Streets in Historic Springfield.  Just follow the snow!

New cafe in 5 Points dishes up vegan pastries and latte art

5 Dec

There's a monkey in my cup!

The gorgeous weather yesterday provided the perfect excuse to try out the newest spot in 5 Points, New Broadway Square. Open just a month, the comfortable cafe at 1049 Park Street is modern and chic, with “tapestried” walls and a huge and envy-inducing pendant light. Joyce Zhang and Jing Yan, the two young women who’ve opened up the neighborhood coffee spot, are aspiring latte foam artists who etch the crema and microfoam into really amazing images, then catalogue their creations on Facebook. They also serve boba teas, frozen yogurt and smoothies, and a serious dose of neighborliness.

The pastry case is filled with a remarkable assortment of organic, vegan treats and savories prepared by Christine Kinne-Bott, a local caterer carving out a niche for gluten free, sustainable vegetarian fare. Think French madeleines, peanut butter cocoa oatmeal raw cookies, sweet potato cheesecake, cinnamon raisin maple croissants, cappuccino cupcakes served in miniature paper cups . . .   all beautifully presented and mouthwatering. We sampled something sweet and awesome up on the counter, then ate a pair of goat cheese squares topped with pomegranate seeds. Don’t miss the the crab turnover–flaky crust is folded over a nicely balanced blend of minced crab, asparagus, peas and spices, then topped with a delicate white sauce. Delish!

The cafe also sells a small collection of Asian kawaii accessories. In Japan there is an absolute adoration of anything cute (kawaii), and any hip, self-respecting Shibuya girl will be sporting a multitude of the items on display at New Broadway Square: cell phone charms, Hello Kitty earrings and necklaces, little shaped memo pads, adorable little erasers–sugary stuff bound to make even the most hardened cynic crack a smile. We’re pretty sure you won’t find this stuff at Starbuck’s . . .

 

Vegan Blueberry Lavender Cheesecake

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