It’s a Los Angeles paradox that there are so many phenomenal bakeries in a city where people are obsessed with being fit and healthy. And yet the bakeries flourish and are often graced with lines down the block – somebody’s eating this stuff, and they’re lucky! Here are a few spots you shouldn’t miss if you’re going to LA, and even if you aren’t, there is inspiration here.
One of my favorite places was Duff’s Cake Mix, a do-it-yourself cake-making emporium where you can choose a pre-made and frosted cake, pick from a wide variety of colored frostings, candies, doodads and other decorative items, and decorate a cake right there on the premises. If it sounds like a fun idea for kids, you should have seen the adults there getting very serious about how their cakes were looking.
Duff cake mix colors
Duff cake in a jar
Duff cakes waiting to be decorated by you!
Then there was Republique, a bakery and restaurant that originally built by Charlie Chaplin as his personal office space – and his idea of office space must have been a Gothic cathedral. You can get everything from eggs, greens, and baguette to kimchee fried short ribs for breakfast, as well as a delectable assortment of bombolini and other pastries.
Cookies at Republique
Teabreads at Republique
We loaded up on elegant French pastries at Bouchon, swung by Joan’s on Third to ogle the amazing meringues, tea breads, and muffins, and picked up cheesecake at Sweet Lady Jane, home of the most feminine and beautiful cakes. There’s also a great ice cream shop called Carmela, which I include in this category because they make their own waffle cones, and they were so delicious – it completely changed the nature of the ice cream that was in it. Something to try another day!
A few photos to whet your appetite…
Bouchon pastry case
Bouchon chocolate and lemon tarts
Joan’s peanut butter and jelly bars
Joan’s French muffin
Joan’s peanut butter and dark chocolate bar
Sweet Lady Jane Berry Cake
Sweet Lady Jane trifle
Carmela’s homemade waffle cones
As an added bonus, here is a recipe for a light and fluffy blueberry muffin from my friend and former White House Social Secretary (and current LA resident!), Jeremy Bernard. He got this recipe from his trainer, who used these muffins as a reward after a couple of tough weeks of training. Once you taste them, you’ll see why they were worth a few extra bench presses!
Blueberry Muffins by Jeremy Bernard
Serves: makes 12 standard-sized muffins
Prep time: 10 minutes plus 15 minutes for baking
- 1 cup fresh blueberries
- 2 cups flour
- 3 tablespoons baking powder (it’s a lot, I know, but it works)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup of melted butter
- 1 cup of milk
- 1 egg
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest
- Cane sugar for sprinkling on top of unbaked muffins
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Mix wet ingredients (butter, milk, egg) together in a bowl. Mix dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, lemon zest) together in a second bowl.
- Add dry ingredients to wet and stir until they are combined, but do not over-mix.
- Fold in blueberries and place batter into cupcake tins. Sprinkle with sugar and bake for 15 minutes. Cool five minutes and serve.