With five bakeries in the downtown area alone, most of them less than a handful of years old, Raleigh has quickly become a destination for the gourmet baked good lover. Come holiday time, there’s something for everyone. An assortment of treats from Boulted Bread slivered into bite-sized portions would make a perfect cocktail pairing … a weekend morning stroll through the State Farmers Market would be sweeter with one of Annelore’s German Bakery’s spicy gingerbread cookies … a sticky toffee pudding-flavored macaron at Lucettegrace could turn an afternoon coffee break into a mini celebration … a crusty loaf of bread from any of these spots would make a perfect complement to a warm winter stew.
Besides stopping in and stocking up, most local bakehouses have seasonal specials, too.
Here’s what to plan ahead for.
Boulted Bread provides rustic, hearty favorites. Last year’s spiced date levain was a hit and will be back; and there’s also old-fashioned apple and cranberry pies; crusty-sweet-croissant-y kouign-amann; and soft gingerbread. Order online or in-store between Dec. 2 and Dec. 18; 614 W. South St.; boultedbread.com
Dewey’s Bakery is a seasonal taste of history. Many North Carolinians know the Winston-Salem outpost as the source of annual tins of Moravian sugar cookies; each year lately, the store opens a pop-up shop in Cameron Village from Thanksgiving to Christmas Eve. Alongside those wafer-thin sugar cookies are boxes of cinnamon-bun-esque Moravian sugar cake, pies and cakes, and Lovefeast buns, sweet yeast rolls with nutmeg, orange, and lemon. 421 Daniels St.; deweys.com
La Farm Bakery and its breads are featured in this month’s “Favorite Things” issue of O: The Oprah Magazine. Among their celebrated goods are dark chocolate babka, the traditional Jewish dessert; stollen German holiday bread; linzer-inspired challah: challah bread filled with raspberries and cream; and fig-polenta-walnut bread. Just in time for winter orders, the popular Cary spot opens its second production bakery downtown on West Chatham Street this month, and a new cafe adjacent to it is under construction to open come spring. Order by Dec. 21; 4248 N.W. Cary Parkway; lafarmbakery.com
Lucettegrace is for the elegant dessert lover. This year, the pastry shop is increasing its in-store packaged treats, including fudge and sweet granolas, for hostess gifts and stocking stuffers. There are also three bûche de noël French Christmas cake flavors to choose from and pre-order: Red velvet rolled with cream cheese mousse with raspberry jam; chocolate cake rolled in pecan pie mousse, set in chocolate mousse, and resting on chocolate brownie cake; and gingerbread cake rolled with lemon cream, set in chai mousse, and resting on more gingerbread. Order to pick up on Dec. 23 and 24; 235 S. Salisbury St.; lucettegrace.com
Night Kitchen is where to find unexpected treats. Last year’s order-ahead, pre-wrapped assortment of homemade holiday cookies was popular and will again be an option; as well as linzertorte, an Austrian spiced nut pastry shell filled with raspberry and red currant jam; and panettone, an Italian celebratory cake studded with dried fruit. Order in-person or by phone by Dec. 20; 984-232-8907; 10 W. Franklin St., Ste. 140; raleighnightkitchen.com
Yellow Dog Bread offers baked goods with familiar Southern influences. Rosemary, cheddar, and pumpkin seed boule; yeast rolls; pumpkin walnut bread; and other treats are all available throughout the winter. For the holidays, the order-ahead selection includes salted pecan pie, cranberry apple pie, and sweet potato cheesecake. Order in-person or by phone by Dec. 21; 984-232-0291; 219 E. Franklin St.