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 Boston’s Mistral, Cambridge’s Rialto and New York City’s Payard Patisserie and Bistro (both 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 more 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 a variety of 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
Danish and newspaper:
South End French patisserie Cafe Madeleine features an open kitchen, perfect for watching the chefs prepare treats like Pain au Chocolat or Candied Orange Tropezienne. Chang’s warning: Tables are 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 après-dinner dessert.
Written by Cheryl Fenton