Beautiful Bakery

By Candice Wagener | Photos (L to R): Sunny Frantz / The Baked Lab, Clasen’s Baker, Level 5 Donuts

Holidays are a time for treats, and what better way to pamper yourself than to buy local from the best bakers in town? Read on to find the most indulgent goodies nearby.

THE BAKED LAB

Want a show-stopper for your next special occasion? The Baked Lab is your go-to. Owner Shawn Bolduc launched his online business a little over a year ago and has been producing Instagrammable specialties in the form of one-tiered to multi-tiered cakes, cheesecakes, cream puffs and macarons. He also recently launched a signature line of celebration cakes that can be ordered online and picked up five days later. We bet you’ll swoon over their chocolate with bourbon buttercream and salted caramel cakes, and tangy orange dream macarons. “We are flavor- forward and love creating special cakes and custom desserts for our clients,” says Bolduc. thebakedlab.com

MONONA BAKERY

Vicente Sacramento started baking at age 16, and has been learning ever since. He and wife Claudia Santos, along with their two daughters, opened Monona Bakery in February 2017, featuring Mexican specialties like tres leches cake and flan, plus unique holiday treats pan de muerto for Day of the Dead and roscas de reyes for Epiphany. Indulgences available year- round include eclairs, scones and savory croissants stuffed with chorizo and cheese or spinach and feta.

Claudia says staff and customers are like extended family: “Especially during these trying times the support and love we have received from our community has helped us center ourselves and strive to keep doing what we do.” mononabakeryeatery.com

THE LOOKING GLASS BAKERY

If cheesecakes are your jam, check out Stephanie Waggett’s creations. Popular flavors are lemon lavender and brandy old fashioned — but self-taught Waggett loves taking special requests. And she’s not limited to cheesecake. Cakes (like raspberry champagne), pies, tarts and cookies are all possibilities. Look for specialty decorated sugar cookies and take-home cookie kits, ginger spice cake plus cheesecakes in flavors like pumpkin and peppermint bark this holiday season.

Waggett is also willing to make custom creations for those with certain food allergies and dietary requests: “It’s a shared kitchen but we treat each request with extra special care.” Order all of her treats online. thelookingglassbakery.com

BLOOM BAKE SHOP

The gold standard in Madison, Bloom has been making delectable treats since 2010. Owner Annemarie Maitri took inspiration from her parents. “I have always had a keen interest in the seasonality of ingredients and the history behind food. I feel lucky that. I get to call the kitchen my work place.”

Those familiar with Bloom know about their fantastic biscuit sandwiches, scratch-made pastries and layer cakes. Recent menu changes incorporate more fresh breads and French- style pastries. One thing everlasting is their commitment to using local ingredients and offering tasty vegan and gluten-free options. bloombakeshop.com

LEVEL 5 DONUTS

Level 5 is doing justice to the vegan baked goods scene. “Going vegan is better for the planet, better for your health, and better for the animals,” says Caitlin Rockey, who owns Level 5 with husband Aaron Mooney. Rockey earned her chops at The French Pastry School, and Mooney at The Culinary Institute of America.

Their tasty sourdough donuts are popping up all around town in flavors like churro and chai. In November, they focused on pie flavors with glazes mimicking traditional fillings and bits of toasted crust on top. This month it’s candy canes and hot chocolate. level5donuts.com

CLASEN’S BAKERY

This Middleton-based bakery has stood the test of time. Owner Michelle Clasen acquired the business from her father, Ralph, and mother, Brigitte, who opened up shop in 1959 after immigrating from Cologne, Germany. Their warehouse-sized space is filled with traditional European baked goods, including 40 varieties of handcrafted breads and rolls and over 70 varieties of confections and treats ranging from cakes and quiches to pastries and chocolates, made using generations-old recipes.

Every holiday season they produce around 10,000 pounds of cookies, including 12 types of German gingerbread. Plus, they’ll have DIY gingerbread house kits available and their famous yule log roll cake. clasensbakery.com

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