Cooks typically rely on tried-and-true recipes when they bake cakes. In the kitchen of Sweet Ruminations, a dessert boutique rather than a traditional full-service bakery, baker Amanda Boutcher combines diverse influences: she may craft a tart inspired by the scent of a grandmother’s kitchen, or a pie that celebrates the tender memory of being pied in the face by a stranger. She works with customers to design desserts that suit their own tastes and spring from their own memories. Then, using fruit from local orchards and milk from local, grass-fed cows, she brings the treats to life in gluten and gluten-free varieties.
Patrons can also stop by Sweet Ruminations to sample ready-made sweets: macaroons, cream puffs, and cupcakes are just a few options. Distance is no object to Boutcher, who travels to locations such as the English East Midlands countryside to cater events.
Originally founded in Southern India, Hot Breads - Bakery and Indian Cafe began establishing locations internationally, and now boasts more than 80 cafes worldwide. The stores' menus combine Indian cuisine with traditional bistro and bakery fare, all made from scratch onsite. The staff rises early to bake fresh batches of breads and pastries, as well as a more savory lunch menu. Additionally, cooks can accommodate gluten-free diets at lunchtime with their lentil-laden rice crepes and vegetable soups. Bakers can also custom-design cakes for weddings, birthdays, graduations, and stooge-grade food fights, artistically frosting mango- and chocolate truffle–flavored cakes. They can tailor desserts to accommodate dietary restrictions with egg-free and nut-free recipes.
Tucked away in the kitchen of each Paris Baguette, bakers trained in French techniques craft buttery, flaky croissants and tart crusts, and their success at this has earned attention from the likes of the New York Times. In addition to pastries and sweets such as mocha rice balls, the bakers knead bread for their namesake baguettes and yeasty creations that hold an Asian twist, such as red-bean-paste-filled donuts. The experts also create fondant-cloaked cakes that venture beyond classic flavors into green tea, cappuccino, and sweet potato, delighting partygoers bored of the same laminated sheet cake that makes its appearance at each year’s birthday celebration.
To wash down these treats, patrons sip cups of java or more exotic drinks such as wheatgrass and black-sesame lattes, persimmon smoothies, and bubble tea. At lunchtime, many locations layer sandwiches, filling hungry stomachs with croque monsieurs and baguettes stuffed with chicken and pesto.
The Potomac Bead Company nurtures gemstone devotees in an environment geared toward creative inspiration. Trained instructors offer a schedule of classes with options appropriate for neophytes as well as more advanced artists. Basic Beading 101 offers an entry into the world of necklace-and-bead stringing, and the Intro to Wire Working class imbues the brain's creative centers with skills in link, coil, and clasp making. Intermediate metal manipulators can combine wire and beads to improve hand-eye coordination with a wire ring. Make utilitarian wristwatches jealous with a glittering diagonal stitch Swarovski bracelet. Other options include seed beading, wire weaving, and hemp-jewelry seminars. Children's beading classes for ages 7–13 offer a sense of creative accomplishment to youngsters who can't yet craft life-size sculptures of muscular Greek children.
When German baker William Entenmann came to America in the late 1800s and landed his first job in a bread bakery, he probably didn’t realize that he’d soon create one of America’s favorite brands of freshly baked goods. He opened his first Entenmann’s in Brooklyn in 1898, lugging sweets from door to door by way of a horse-drawn wagon. Today, though the mode of transportation has changed, the bakery’s donuts, crumb cakes, dessert cakes, bite-size muffins, and other baked goods continue to perform their dessert duties from supermarkets and bakery outlets across the United States.