In 1975, newlyweds Pete and Laura Wakeman solidified their marriage by hiking the entire north-south length of Montana. They?d traveled a long way from Cornell University, where they discovered a mutual talent for baking bread that helped pay their tuition. Their passion stuck with them after graduation, prompting them to stay in Montana and establish Great Harvest Bread, their first bakery. Since then, the small bakery has blossomed into a national franchise with 200 locations across the United States and several pending locations on the United States? half of the moon. Each of Great Harvest Bread?s locations operates as an independent bakery, with its kitchen run and recipes devised by an independent owner. Many of these bakeries craft their menu around the company?s focus on whole-wheat bread, using ingredients such as wheat harvested from independent farms, fresh-milled whole-grain flour, and unbleached white flour. They also inundate loaves with berries, nuts, cheeses, and herbs and create their own desserts.
The staff at Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt rejects the oft-touted claim that Americans don?t care about nutrition. The problem, they say, has more to do with selection than anything else; most low-calorie sweets don?t hold a candle to a fudge brownie or a warm slice of apple pie. They kept this in mind when crafting their frozen-yogurt recipes, working tireless to develop a healthy?and equally delicious?alternative to the dessert status quo by turning to decadent confections and fresh fruits for inspiration.
Their experiments thus far have yielded a variety of frozen yogurt flavors made daily, which take turns pumping through the self-serve machines that line their stimulating shop?s wall. Before taking a seat in a bright orange chair for an innocent indulgence, guests fill their dishes with cool, low-fat swirls of chocolate cheesecake, strawberry banana, and a classic tart that bites as pleasantly as a teething kitten. Juicy pears, crunchy granola, and gooey chocolate sauce headline a smorgasbord of at least 30 do-it-yourself toppings ready to scooped or poured into customized cups before their final weigh-in. Orange Leaf also offers no sugar-added, gluten-free, and dairy-free alternatives.
Owned and operated by Sharon Bienkowski and family, Sweet Simplicity’s recipe rolodex stretches back through three generations of bakers specializing in old-fashioned, made-from-scratch treats. Sweet Simplicity’s ovens turn out a steady stream of cookies (3 for $2), jumbo cupcakes in gourmet guises ($3, $30/doz.), and warm apple pies, all with fresh fruit, fine flour, and real butter folded into their batters and crammed into their crusts ($10.99). Secure the dessert course and impress dinner guests' tongues with one of Sweet Simplicity’s handcrafted cakes, such as a 9” Neapolitan cheesecake with an Oreo cookie crust ($29.99) or an eight-inch triple raspberry tort—moist dark-chocolate cake obfuscating a center of raspberry mousse, enfolded with rich chocolate ganache, and topped with Belgian chocolate shavings, fresh raspberries, and several pending liability claims for flavor-induced overdoses ($32.99).
Creative treat-seekers are welcomed at Bloomberry, where customers layer frozen yogurt and toppings into their own cups and design their own smoothies. Full of live, active cultures, the probiotic-rich, gluten-free yogurt comes in flavors such as dark chocolate, Tahitian vanilla, and pomegranate, and a rotating specialty-flavor menu may include snickerdoodle, birthday cake, or rocky road. To accessorize one's frozen creation, each dessert creator can mine Bloomberry's collection of toppings: fresh fruit, Cap'n Crunch, broken candy bars, and syrups. The customer can then dig in with a spoon, load it into a slingshot, or pass the cup to a staff member who will blend it into a custom milkshake.
Before Pam Turkin flung open the doors to the first Just Baked in 2009, she was just baking cupcakes on the weekends. But after her corporate travels took her past a growing number of cupcake shops outside of southeastern Michigan, she decided to turn her hobby into a career. She now helms 17 shops in the area, where she and her staff of dessert experts whip up eclectically flavored cupcakes such as red velvet cheesecake, chocolate chip cookie dough, and grumpy cake. In addition to the mouthwatering flavors, all of their items boast real butter, real eggs, and real milk as opposed to artificial ingredients from artificial cows and chickens.
Praised by patrons and local press, Ridley's Bakery Café crafts hearty sandwiches with quality ingredients on hand-sliced bread. Every morning, the eatery's bakers rise at 2:30 a.m. to watch their favorite infomercials and to prepare the shop's fresh bread, available in a half-dozen varieties, including asiago and sourdough. The menu satisfies sandwich devotees from all walks of life with vegetarian and low-fat options, such as the fat-free tuna-salad sandwich ($6.25). Teeth crunch through sliced cucumber, roasted red pepper, and lemon-herb dressing atop the turkey garden club ($6.50), while stomachs fill pastry vacancies with a rotating selection of savory 10-ounce muffins ($4.75), packed with herbs, seasonings, vegetables, and cheeses. Miniature explorers sail across the top of a 12-ounce bowl of creamy chicken-wild-rice soup ($3.35), occasionally docking at the edge of a bread bowl ($2 extra) or mistaking a piece of poultry for India.