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:
: 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.
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: 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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!