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« Behind the Sweetness: Stories and Lore Behind Popular Baked Goods | Main | Holey Sweetness: An Unexpected Visit to Shipley Do-Nuts in Houston »
Sunday
Sep142008

Cakewalk in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Skrumptions, Sciortino's Bakery, Milwaukee
Pulling into Wisconsin from Illinois, the sign proclaims the state's highlights to include "industry, agriculture, recreation". But what's going on in Milwaukee? Most know it for its relationship to Harley-Davidson and beer, a memorable scene from Wayne's World, and perhaps Laverne & Shirley. Luckily for us, Milwaukee turned out to be a treasure—beautiful, architecturally and culturally diverse, and full of sweetness. Under the watchful eye of the Milwaukee Cupcake Queen and friends, we had the good fortune of trying out some of the city's best. Here were some of the highlights:

Alterra Coffee, MilwaukeeAlterra Coffee, Milwaukee

Alterra Coffee: You may have heard that Seattleites can be picky about coffee--so it's no small thing to say that the coffee here is excellent. The location we visited, which is very green-friendly and committed to sustainable materials, was very cool too--with an artistic, loft-ish vibe. As for the baked goods? Cake Gumshoe Bob raves about the cookies, especially the espresso variety. Multiple locations; for more information, visit alterracoffeepro.com.

The "Wisconsin" CookieSeventh Heaven Bars = Delicious

C. Adams: A newcomer on the bakery block, C. Adams is tucked in the Milwaukee public market, which is…well, sort of like what you might expect if the Pike Place Market had a baby. But there's nothing lightweight about these baked goods, which are dense and rich—from the cupcakes (voted the best in Milwaukee!) to the delectable—and heavy as a brick (in a good way) 7th Heaven Bar (compare to the Hello Dolly bar or 7 layer bar). Milwaukee Public Market; for hours and location, visit milwaukeepublicmarket.org  or call (414) 271-1871.

Canfora Bakery, MilwaukeeCanfora Bakery

Canfora Bakery: We just dropped in to this location, but the array of goodies—from Italian cookies by the pound to an alluring array of fresh breads to heartier fare like the formidable (and, according to the employee, very popular) Cannoli cake, made us wish our trip was longer. Hours: Tues-Fri, 5.30 a.m-6:00 p.m.; Saturday, 7:00 a.m. – 4 p.m.; Sunday, 7 a.m.-1 p.m; closed Monday. 1100 E. Oklahoma Ave., Milwaukee; 414.486.7747.

Sweet Empanada and ice creamGuiness Stout Mousse with a cherry on top
Fratello's: Though this is a restaurant, we were treated to some major sweetness here--"Chef Jeff" fixed us up two custom desserts, including a Guiness-infused chocolate mousse with cake and a cherry on top, as well as a devilishly rich chocolate-peanut butter empanada atop a tall glass of apple-spice ice cream (an unusual, but delicious, combination). Various locations; visit supplerestaurantgroup.com for more information.

La Tarte, MilwaukeeBread Pudding at La Tarte

La Tarte: This sweet little coffee shop had a surprisingly comprehensive array of homemade desserts, including chocolate cupcakes, good-looking lemon bars, and a carb-o-licious bread pudding slice. Hours: Mon-Fri, 7 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Saturday 8 a.m. – 3 p.m; closed Sunday. 6742 Wells St., Wauwatosa; online at latarte.com.

Lehmann's Bakery, WisconsinKringle at Lehmann's

Lehmann's Bakery: En route to Milwaukee from Chicago, we saw a sign for Racine and recalled once hearing about a Kringle that came from that fair city. Pulling over at the first bakery (which was not actually in Racine, just along the route to Racine), which was in there it was: the Kringle. Have to admit though--in person it wasn't really a showstopper. The frosted cookies intrigued us far more. Hours: Mon-Fri 5:30 a.m.-6 p.m; Sat. 6 am-6 p.m.; Sun 7 a.m.-2 p.m. 9117 Durand Avenue - Sturtevant, WI 53177, 262.632.4636; or, order online at lehmanns.com.

Cafe Lulu: Ready for pie in Milwaukee? Make sure to stop at Lulu's, according to Cake Gumshoes Sandy and Bob—they carry a mouthwatering array of gorgeous pies, including "the best blueberry pie you've ever tasted". Hours: Mon-Thurs, 11 a.m. - 10 p.m; Fri. & Sat., 11 a.m. - 11 p.m.; Sun., 11 a.m. - 9 p.m. 2261 S. Howell Ave., Milwaukee; online at lulubayview.com.

National Bakery, MilwaukeeNational Bakery, Milwaukee

National Bakery: A pretty generic name for such a delicious spot, which has a gorgeous range of pączki (which seems to be available at a lot of places in Milwaukee), doughnuts, bread, cookies and assorted deliciousness including the cassata, awaited us. Also, proved to be our our introduction to another local specialty which we noticed on the menu--Hard rolls with ham (which sounds not unlike New Jersey's Pork Roll with cheese). Hours: Mon-Fri, 6.30 a.m. – 6 p.m.; Saturday, 6 a.m. – 4 p.m.; Closed Sunday. National Bakery & Deli, two locations; for directions, visit nationalbaking.com.

Sciortino's Bakery, MilwaukeeSciortino's Bakery, Milwaukee

Peter Sciortino's Bakery: Being originally from New Jersey, this spot gave us a sweet reminder of the bakeries back home like Piancone's. We picked up some lovely cookies by the pound for the crew at Taste of Home; more immediately, a "Tutu" cookie (a kind of chocolate and walnut ball of a cookie covered in a frosting glaze) kept us fueled for the day ahead. They also had the fascinating (and delicious) "Skrumptions"--the lovely filled and frosted cookies shown at the top of this guide. Hours: 7 a.m. – 5 p.m. Peter Sciortino's Bakery, 1101 E. Brady St., Milwaukee; (414)272-4623; online at petersciortinosbakery.com.

Sweet Empanadas, San Angel Panaderia, MilwaukeeSan Angel Panaderia, Milwaukee

San Angel Panaderia: When we came across this spot, we thought maybe it was suffering un peu of an identity crisis—not too many places boast "panaderia", "babka" and "pączki" all on the same awning. Nonetheless, this place somehow pulled it off with panache, with cases stocked full of an international array of pastries—from conchas to cream horns to macaroons to scones, they had it all, and it was gorgeous and amazingly (almost alarmingly) cheap—two sweet empanadas and a cookie came to just $1.90 total. Hours: Tues-Sun, 7 a.m.-8 p.m.; closed Monday. 960 W. Oklahoma Ave., Milwaukee; (414)727-9822.

Decorated Black bottom Cupcakes, Simma's Bakery, MilwaukeeSimma's Bakery, Milwaukee
Simma's Bakery: Our only complaint is that they ought to change their name to "Heaven, the bakery". This bakery has won a lot of awards locally--and they're well deserved in our opinion. The caramel-oat bar we got was like sweet manna; the aroma upon walking in made us want to stay for a very, very long time. Hours: Tuesday-Fri., 7.am – 6 p.m.; Saturday, 7 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Sunday, 8 a.m. – 12 p.m.; closed Mondays. 817 N. 68th St., Milwaukee; 414-257-0998; online at simmasbakery.com.


P.S. Wanna know what brought Cakespy to Milwaukee? Hint hint, it has something to do with the magazine Taste of Home...stay tuned in the coming months!
Me and a Huge Magazine cover


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Reader Comments (26)

What a beautifully complete review of our wonderful bakeries here in Milwaukee. Thanks for doing us justice:-)

September 14 | Unregistered CommenterSusie

I really have to go to Milwaukee now, after this!

September 14 | Unregistered CommenterClumbsy Cookie

You are indeed a lucky girl to have been able to nibble on all these delectables and Milwaukee too!!!

September 14 | Unregistered Commenter~~louise~~

You have definitely expanded my idea of what Milwaukee is all about! I really thought of it as a larger, American version of Hamilton, Ontario. This sounds much more appealing!

Now if I ever see MIlwaukee on my itinerary, I'll go on an anticipatory diet.

September 14 | Unregistered CommenterDana McCauley

That beehive looking thing looks quite amazing. Great shots of these wonderful desserts! Keep up the good work!

September 14 | Unregistered CommenterTara (Just Desserts)

It was MORE THAN AN HONOR to share Milwaukee with the one and only Cakespy. It was also a treat to learn more about my own fair city! Thanks for being my inspiration to get out and learn all about it! Miss you a ton!

Milwaukee: It's not just for the Fonz anymore. (Or Jeffery Dahmer.) It is also a sugar coma waiting to happen.

September 14 | Unregistered Commenterbakeanddestroy

Yum. Can I have a (i.e. ten) tutus please?

September 15 | Unregistered CommenterThe Caked Crusader

wayne's world, party time, excellent! :) great food-porn-heavy post. :)

September 15 | Unregistered CommenterGrace

You can just drop me off and pick me up in about 3 days - that should give me enough time to eat my way through these wonderful bakeries.

September 15 | Unregistered Commentergiz

Yum! Looks like a very tasty trip!!

September 15 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

great cakewalk! Can't wait to hear about why you were in Milwaukee...sounds exciting!

September 15 | Unregistered Commenterveron

great cakewalk! Can't wait to hear about why you were in Milwaukee...sounds exciting!

September 15 | Unregistered Commenterveron

Sounds like a wonderful trip...I love traveling via the armchair of your sweet tooth :D

September 15 | Unregistered CommenterOwl Chick

Wow! I'm so happy for you! What an opportunity!

September 15 | Unregistered CommenterTablebread

Look at all of those treats!! Amazing!! I love the cupcakes with the ladybugs on them...of course!! YUM to it all!

September 15 | Unregistered CommenterMaria

I wish I had your job!!! Can't wait to hear what's up with the magazine!

Brilliant. I love that the middle of the country is getting some love. :)

September 15 | Unregistered Commenterchou

I can't believe you went to Lulu's- my most favorite place in all of milwaukee. MMM lulu slaw. I never miss going there when i visit milwaukee (about 4 times a year)

September 15 | Unregistered CommenterStacey

I can't believe you went to Lulu's- my most favorite place in all of milwaukee. MMM lulu slaw. I never miss going there when i visit milwaukee (about 4 times a year)

September 15 | Unregistered CommenterStacey

Geez, I only know four of those places. Thanks for proof that our family doesn't eat enough sweets (if you only knew). I'm making a list and sticking on the car visor.

September 15 | Unregistered CommenterJeanna

i hope you did many "shlimiel shlmazel" moments while there. and said "mili-wau-kee" a la alice cooper at least once. who knew milwaukee had so many amazing treats beyond popular culture references? loved the tour, as always.

First of all, Wisconsin Rocks! Ok, sometimes it does and with these delicious treats you found, definitely!

The magazine venture sounds exciting. You have an awesome blog that makes me drool...can't wait to see what's next!

September 16 | Unregistered CommenterTanya

I just need to know ... how do you people keep fit?!

This website has inspired me to eat (much) more freshly baked goods ... but I NEED the secret to not gaining massive amounts of weight.

September 16 | Unregistered CommenterTara

Susie: Thanks! :-) I hope to visit again soon, it was delicious!

Clumbsy: Yes, you should! It's a lovely town!

Louise: I know, it was so fun!

Dana: It was really beautiful. I was pleasantly surprised!

Tara: It was. Milwaukee's bakeries are incredible!

Mke Cupcake queen: No, I'm the one who feels honored--you are such a great tour guide!

Bakeanddestroy: Well, it's those things too. Wonder which bakery the Fonz likes?

Caked: That was one of my favorite things!

Grace: Meel-a-walk-ay!

Suzanne: It was!

Giz: We did all this in 2 days. Two delicious days.

Veron: It was awesome, stay tuned!!

Owl Chick: Glad you enjoyed!

Tablebread: Thanks!!

Maria: it was a great trip!

TW: Ooh, I can't wait either!

Chou: It deserves some love as I saw! :-) It was awesome!

Stacey: No way! I had the slaw! Cool!

Jeanna: Woot! Let us know what we missed! :-)

Octavine: It was a brilliant trip and I said it every chance I got (ok, in my head).

Tanya: I think it's going to be really exciting!

Tara: We don't have a car so usually we walk everywhere. Also, we don't always buy and consume a whole pastry every place. Sometimes we'll get cookies or something that will travel well and eat them the next day. :-)

September 16 | Unregistered CommenterCakespy

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