Discover Jumbleberry pie and other baked goods at Real Pie Company
For years, Sacramento’s bread culture and baking scene have held more or less steady while restaurant numbers and quality skyrocketed. Stalwarts like Freeport, Ettore’s, Grateful Bread, and Bella Bru have long dominated the market, with Pushkin’s offering an alternative with excellent gluten-free items.
But a truly rising bread and baking scene – a second proof, if you will – has been a hole in the market. That lacuna is especially noticeable when you cast an eye to the thriving naturally leavened bread scenes in the Bay Area or Los Angeles. However, a ferment here has started, with several cottage bakeries marketing bread subscription services, including Lizzy’s Bakehouse in East Sacramento and Faria Bakery, which also sells at farmers markets and is opening a permanent bakery in Oak Park this summer.
“People are literally starving for it,” says Christopher Beattie, who will open his hotly anticipated Faria Bakery in Oak Park this summer. “I’m happy to see a lot of different bakery projects coming online.”
One project to look for in the future: Niche Bread and Company, which will emphasize naturally leavened sourdoughs and will also offer sweet and savory tartines, cookies, flatbread, coffee, and natural wines, according to owners Daniel Stephan and Marques Ochoa. Stephan hopes to open the spot, which will go into the K Street space recently vacated by Skool, by year’s end.
Meanwhile, Beattie is even closer to opening Faria, and his breads and pastries are available at area markets. And several bakeries offering a range of sweets and savories, in both the French and American traditions, are offering pastry-loving Sacramentans new options. Whether you like pies, eclairs, or anything in between, five of our favorite newer bakery-café establishments have you covered. Here’s hoping the bread and pastry scene here only continues to rise.
Bread and croissant lovers, get excited. Faria Bakery, currently a cottage operation producing some of the best breads in Sacramento, is opening a permanent space that will bring the cult-fave naturally leavened breads from baker Chris Beattie to everyone. Eventually, Beattie also plans to offer a sandwich program and wine.
Slated to debut this summer, the shop at 3417 Broadway will offer Beattie’s pastries and signature deeply browned breads (“color is flavor,” says the baker), all of which boast shatter-crisp crusts and a healthy proportion of whole-grain flours, many fresh ground from local grain grower and miller Capay Mills. The killer toasted sesame loaf, for instance, is 50 percent whole wheat.
Beattie also uses whole-grain flours in ancient-grain tea cakes and his immaculate lofty, layered, crunchy-outside, tender-within viennoiseries (the French term for laminated-dough treats like croissants). Seasonal fruit pastries like strawberry with pistachio cream or blueberry-pomelo give a sophisticated, gorgeous twist to the familiar Danish, but don’t miss the simple, perfect pain au chocolat – better than any I sampled recently in Paris.
Can’t wait for the bakery to open? For now, Faria breads and pastries are on offer at several area farmers markets.
Where: Available at the Oak Park, Midtown, U.C. Davis Med Center and Folsom farmers markets, by subscription, and by special order.
Bread and pastry rating: ☆☆☆☆
Real Pie Company
Pie fans rejoiced last year when Kira O’Donnell Babich opened Real Pie Company just off Broadway, an expanded and better-than-ever revival of the much-lamented, much smaller bakery she formerly had on F Street. (Full disclosure: Babich is a longtime friend, but as a bona fide pie lover I’d adore this shop whether I knew the owner or not.)
Real Pie sells the best pies in town, hands down. Babich and crew bring the farm-to-fork ethos to the world of pastry with seasonal fruit pies, plus luscious cream pies (try the banana butterscotch) and classics like lemon meringue. I grew up with and love fruit pies, but the inventive combinations that Babich enfolds in her flaky, rich butter crusts are a cut above Mom-style. This time of year, I’m a particular fan of the tart raspberry-rhubarb, which gives a fresh spin to a classic combination of sour rhubarb and sweet berries.
Don’t miss the savory items like chicken pot pie – one of the most comforting dishes in town.
Where: 2425 24th Street
Info: 916-838-4007, realpiecompany.com.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.
Pie rating: ☆☆☆☆
Julian’s Patisserie and Cafe
The very name of Julian’s Patisserie and Cafe, in Folsom, takes a French approach, and so does the menu.
Sit-down plates lean heavily to crepes, both sweet and savory; the bakery case offers petite, perfect macarons (I especially loved the coffee flavor); and, best of all, they do a strong line in choux pastries. Choux, for those unfamiliar, is the eggy, pipeable dough that bakes into crisp, airy cream puffs and eclairs.
At Julian’s, stars include a special pistachio éclair, topped with a pretty green shell of glossy, tinted white chocolate and filled with a nutty cream. Another standout is a beautiful, lofty raspberry cream puff, baked with stunning craquelin on top and filled with light whipped cream and pastry cream. The croissants lack buttery flavor and are a little disappointing, but for casual snackers, the dense florentine – an almond-rich, chewy caramel triangle with a haunting orange flavor and a crumbly shortbread base – is a good bet.
Where: 6610 Folsom-Auburn Road, Folsom.
Info: 916-936-4735. Julianscafe.com.
Hours: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday and Wednesday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.
Patisserie rating: ☆☆☆
The two locations of Estelle are going for an upscale Parisian salon de thé vibe with their chic, light-filled spaces and fancy, sweetly decorative patisserie like Mont Blanc, opera cake and a beautiful lemon tart with perfectly swirled meringue. Although croissants are a tiny bit tough rather than perfectly flaky and light, the croixnut (a doughnut made with croissant dough) is a fun, rich hybrid treat.
The standouts here, however, are the macarons in many flavors, including unusual ones like a purple, dusky-flavored cassis and more common caramel and chocolate, all done to perfection. Macaron shells also feature in one of the best sit-down treats: the macaron rosé, a fanciful pink dream of a treat filled with subtly rose-scented cream and raspberries. One bite, and you’ll think you’re in a Paris tearoom.
Arden: 2530 Arden Way, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 7 a.m. to 7p.m. Sunday.
DoCo: David J. Stern Walk No. 100, 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday.
Info: 916-551-1500, estellebakery.com.
Macaron and patisserie rating: ☆☆☆
Camellia Coffee Roasters
Sacramento’s coffee scene has been hot for a long time, but its coffeehouse treats have lagged somewhat behind, with many places slinging the same, rather tired wholesale offerings.
An exception comes with the baked-in-house treats to go with the stellar espresso at Camellia in the WAL building. The offerings take an American line, with muffins and hand pies the standouts. If the hot apple pie was your fave at McD’s, as I’m not too proud to say it was mine, the warmed hand pie with a flaky crust and cinnamony filling at Camellia will satisfy your nostalgic soul.
Savory hand pies are good for a quick lunch, and the muffins might change your mind about that oft-abused baked good. Instead of being oversized and too sweet, a berry-bran muffin has heft and grainy savor; a s’mores muffin is (obviously) more of a treat, but still seems like breakfast, with a slight graham cracker-like crunch and toasty flavor. The only downside? They tend to sell out of baked goods early.
Where: 1104 R St., Sacramento
Hours: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.
Hand pie and muffin rating: ☆☆☆