We're not sure how it happened — yeast in the water, maybe? — but the past year or so's batch of from-scratch bakeshops seemingly doubled the local baking-and-pastry scene in size. Batters and doughs are on the rise everywhere from south city and Soulard to Maplewood and midtown. As summer begins, a dreamscape of treats continues to heat up all over town. Pastry professionals can take the smoldering temps from those hot ovens so we don't have to! You can satisfy your sweet tooth and cool off with iced coffee and seasonal treats from these up-and-coming bakeries.
Annie Moons Bakery and Cafe
We've all heard the silly saying, "Never trust a skinny chef." Well, the culinary team at Annie Moons Bakery and Café's collective pants aren't bursting at the seams, but their rotund mascot plays the part. Patrons of the Tower Grove South breakfast, lunch and brunch spot can prevent similar fat-bottomed fates thanks to the menu's bite-size portions. The muffins here are so petite, the tops hardly have any hangover, so neither will yours. Try them in not-so-skinny flavors like strawberry cheesecake and banana split with chocolate drizzle, or go for a healthier option, such as the staff favorite: oatmeal almond raisin date. A small selection of baked goods rotates by day, so you'll have to stop in often to see everything from baker Roxanne Cypret's recipe repertoire, including lemon squares, fruit and nut scones and individual cooked-to-order quiches. Bring the pooch and chill on the patio — Annie Moons makes dog treats in flavors that include carob; cashew and almond; and peanut butter.
La Patisserie Chouquette
"Chic" and "couture" aren't words typically associated with sweets, but one look at Simone Faure's edible works of art reveals that they are, indeed, sleek and stylish enough for the runway. Formerly the executive pastry chef at the Ritz-Carlton in Clayton, with La Patisserie Chouquette Faure has gone solo in style, opening a patisserie whose creations emphasize expertise in technique and design in conjunction with bold flavor combinations (e.g., green tea with mango). In the "Bonaparte," Faure's rendition of a classic French napoleon, layers of housemade puff pastry stack beautifully with Tahitian vanilla-bean cream and mild rose-petal jam. No patisserie would be complete, of course, without the iconic macaron. But not all macaron options are bite-size. A larger, dessert version, called the "Amour," sandwiches delicate shells with raspberry mousseline and passionfruit mousse. This summer look for odes to Faure's New Orleans roots, including sun tea and a sweet-tea-flavored macaron. Don't let the grandeur intimidate — as pretty as the presentations are, it's food, after all. So eat up, or, as they say, bon appétit!
Finally, a grab-and-go pastry shop that's open past sundown! (Till 11 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, to be precise, and till 9 on Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday.) No offense to this city's mom-and-pop doughnut shops — we still love you. We just need some variety, and Piccione Pastry, brought to you from the family behind Butler's Pantry, happily provides while quelling that craving for some kind of sweet fried delight. As the sole specialty-dessert dealer in the ever-expanding Delmar Loop restaurant district, Piccione effectively corners the market with an impressive modernized selection of cannoli, cute and colorful Italian cookies, cakes and more. Velvety chantilly creams, pretty little pastries and rum-soaked cakes make up items on the menu developed by executive chef Martin Lopez, who proudly showcases both his Italian and Mexican roots with his food. Stop by for some cannoli "Chips & Dips" after a movie or show, or have dinner elsewhere and save room for coffee and dessert — gelato will be available soon.
Pie Oh My
Lucky folks grow up with a baking-inclined aunt, grandmother or other caring family member to shower them with fresh-from-the-oven home-cooked goodies. For the rest of us, there's Jane Callahan. Like a fairy godmother of pie, she got her start in the baking business by assembling her from-scratch confections with love and personally delivering them to customers' doorsteps. For a dose of home-style American comfort, step into her Maplewood kitchen and let the unmistakable scent of fresh baked fruit, melted butter, nutty flour and warm spice take hold. From the flakiness of the crusts to the local walnuts, apples and more that make up the fillings, Callahan has pie-making down to an art. Sugar never overwhelms the natural flavors of the fruit, which cooks to veritable perfection layered high inside each crust. Said crust never sags under the weight and moisture of fillings. Year-round flavors from Pie Oh My include caramel apple pecan and oatmeal maple walnut with Schlafly Oatmeal Stout, while weekly summer entries could range from mixed berry to strawberry rhubarb. Expect to find them in three sizes: five-inch, tart and mini. Alternatively, special order a full-size pie or opt for a piece by the slice on the fly.
Pint Size Bakery
Pint Size Bakery requires no introduction. Surely by now you've tasted one of its outstanding oatmeal cream pies. If for some reason you haven't had a chance to stop by, here are some examples of what you might find: savory scones dotted with local Canadian bacon from Todd Geisert Farms, cheddar jack cheese and thyme grown in whiskey barrels right outside the bakery; bacon caramel corn made with kernels from YellowTree Farm; brookies (brownies with a cookie in the center, a homage to Brooklyn's renowned bakeshop/cookbook bestsellers, Baked NYC); housemade syrups to flavor iced Kaldi's lattes; and whatever else mastermind Christy Augustin and her team of formally trained pastry chefs feel like whipping up. Pint Size bakes small batches in a tight space, but don't let the name mislead you: It has some big ideas and isn't afraid to pull them off.
Russell's Cafe and Bakery
Russell Ping knows desserts. Since 2006 he has filled the bakery case at his Fenton-based flagship, Russell's Cafe and Bakery, with simple yet indulgent treats and cakes of all kinds: moist layer cakes draped and filled with smooth chocolate ganache; buttermilk pound cakes generously iced with luscious buttercream or contrastingly tart lemon curd; and entire sheet pans of gooey butter cake (perhaps his most sought-after specialty) cut into squares big enough for sharing. Crackly tops on these last bad boys lend a crisp element to the creamy, gooey goodness underneath, and a crumbly shortbread base unique to Ping's recipe holds it all together. Find all this and more at the second location of his bakery café, Russell's on Macklind, which opened in March to the neighborhood's delight. Consider pairing a slice of something nice with a glass of wine or local beer. On some days a jug of refreshing house sangria sits on standby, filled to the brim with chunks of fresh local fruit.
The Sweet Divine
Food-truck fanatics likely have had a run-in with the Sweet Divine already. Ever since the mobile-meal trend exploded in St. Louis in 2010, owners Jenna and Jason Siebert have sold their sweets on the streets, filled order after order of elaborately decorated custom cakes, reigned victorious on the Food Network's Cupcake Wars
and begun selling their winning flavors in signature pink cake boxes at Straub's. The Sieberts recently shut the doors at their Southtown headquarters and reopened larger digs in the heart of Soulard. Now farmers'-market shoppers can mosey over for espresso, cookies, pie and cupcakes in flavors like the award-winning "Drunken Pig" (made with Newcastle beer, cheddar cheese and bacon). Ice cream cupcakes recently made their way onto the menu, stuffed with cold dairy and frosted in sprinkled vanilla buttercream.
Whisk: A Sustainable Bakeshop
The display case at Whisk: A Sustainable Bakeshop changes as often as the seasons' harvests do, albeit with a few mainstays that provide a sugar fix and simultaneously kick savory cravings — look for baker Kaylen Wissinger's best-selling zucchini-spice cupcakes, bacon chocolate-chip cookies and dense and decadent potato-chip blondies. Flaky, buttery pastry encases fresh baked local fruits, available by the slice or in handy individual sizes for those who prefer a higher crust-to-filling ratio. A few vegan and/or gluten-free options make their way onto the daily menu, options such as thumbprint cookies, chocolate beet cupcakes and banana chocolate-chip muffins. Head to the storefront to pick out an ice pop — flavors rotate regularly and include Vietnamese coffee, avocado, cucumber-basil and peach and jalapeño — or visit Whisk at the Schlafly and Tower Grove farmers' markets, where it got its start in 2011. Way to stay true to your roots, Whisk!