In France, the distinction is made between a bread bakery (boulangerie) and a pastry shop (pâtisserie), and a similar dichotomy holds true in other places. In America, however, we tend to meld the two together with Yankee practicality, and our bakeries usually sell a wide range of flour-based (and/or gluten-free) baked goods, including breads, rolls, pastries, cakes and pies, and doughnuts, among other items. And if there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that every town needs a good bakery. (There are also specialists, of course. For instance, this is the best donut shop in every state.)
If you’ve ever made a pie from scratch, rolled out your own sticky buns, or baked a fresh loaf of bread, you already know that baking can be a lot harder than it looks. Your adherence to quantities in your recipe has to be perfect, yeast needs to be given time to do its thing (if it’s involved), and it all needs to be baked at the correct temperature, for just the right amount of time. Now imagine scaling up production to serve up to hundreds of customers every day, all while making a profit, and you’ll understand just how hard it can be to run a bakery. Luckily for us, there are hardy souls everywhere around the country who have both the skill and the determination to do it.
To determine the best bakery in every state, 24/7 Tempo reviewed articles and rankings on a variety of sites including Eater, Taste of Home, Mashed, Mental Floss, Love Food, and Business Insider, as well as local and regional sources, basing our final choices on editorial discretion.
There are lots of different kinds of bakeries out there. In some, fresh-baked breads are front and center, while some are known for their cupcakes, pies, or croissants. Some follow recipes that have been passed down over generations, while others develop their own. Certain examples feature baked goods native to Latin America or Central Europe, while others offer specialties popular in their corners of the country – like kolaches in Texas or mochi donuts in Hawaii. (This is the most iconic dessert in every state.)
Whatever they serve, a great bakery can be more than just a place to grab a macaron or a Parker House roll or a loaf of rye: It can be the cornerstone of a community.
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