The holidays are swiftly approaching! Do you have plans to attend gatherings where you have to bring a dessert to share? Is your entire family descending on your house and you just don't have the manpower to bake enough the delicious goodies? Do you just want an excuse to visit bakeries? That last one is me. We scoped out some of the top bakeries in Hampton Roads and have the inside scoop on which ones we recommend.
I have a soft spot in my heart for the local bakeries. There's something about walking into a little mom-and-pop shop with warm, sugary, floury smells that hit you like a wave. It's someone's passion and dream, and there's no better way to support them than paying a visit to try out some of their sweet confections! Here they are, in no particular order:
Located in the heart of the ViBe District, Prosperity Kitchen Pantry works in small batches and only uses the best ingredients. They take their time and bake with care, hand-forming each creation, whether a delicate pastry or a hearty loaf of bread. They also believe that agriculture should be practiced responsibly and sustainably. I asked for their best-selling item, and apparently sourdoughs were the crowd favorite! During the day, you’ll find a variety of breads and pastries, but in the evening they transition to selling pizza. It’s definitely a cool place grab something fresh-baked, sweet or savory!
Every year on my dad's birthday, my mom will make an incredible carrot cake. The problem is, we usually have too many guests to serve with one cake. What do we do? We head over to Nothing Bundt Cakes. Their White Chocolate Raspberry Bundt is INCREDIBLE. Frankly, my parents are cake snobs and preach the gospel of "homemade cakes" for birthdays. You know it's good when they're willing to make an exception. Although they're a growing franchise, they still have the homemade touch with every cake they bake. The location on Laskin Road has a great variety of Bundt flavors and forty unique cake designs!
My Vegan Sweet Tooth is Hampton Roads' first all-vegan bakery, specializing in gluten-free and organic treats. They also offer allergy-friendly foods including not only gluten-free, but also tree nut-free, peanut-free and soy-free. I went and tried their cinnamon bun upon their recommendation. I had planned on having a few bites and taking the rest back to the office to share with my coworker. That didn't work out, but what Cole doesn't know won't hurt him. They offered to warm it up, which made it gooey on the inside with a nice crust on the outside. My Vegan Sweet Tooth would be great for those guests or family members who are vegan, have dietary restrictions, or anyone really!
Every year at Valentine's Day, my mom's tradition is to order a dozen almond cake petit fours from Plaza Bakery, and it will forever be my favorite part of Valentine's Day. Not surprisingly, these little nuggets of goodness are their best-sellers. I also love their gingerbread people, which would be a great idea for the holidays! Family-owned since 1983, their 100-year-old recipes are no joke and most locals would agree that Plaza Bakery is one of Virginia Beach's best-loved bakeries. They sell a wide variety of sweet treats, including fresh doughnuts, pies (also available for pre-order) hot cross buns, and cookies! The gingerbread men (and women) are always a crowd-pleaser.
My entire childhood, I passed Sugar Plum Bakery every Sunday morning (and I still do). I can't remember how often I asked to go, but it's safe to say my mother has the patience of a saint. Sugar Plum is a beach-based bakery that serves the needs of individuals with disabilities through employment, education, and training and helping them become independent and contributing members of our communities. They have excellent seasonal cakes and pies, all of which would be surely be a hit at those holiday parties! They also have a wide selection of specialty desserts, bread, bars, pastries, cookies, cakes, and doughnuts! You name it, they've got it! And it all looks incredible. Check out their website for more!
This one was right by my house, so it looks like I have a new favorite morning stop on the way to work! Full disclosure: I could not justify getting a pastry for the third morning in a row. So, I got a cappuccino and just stared longingly through the glass at the delicious pastries. They have a wide variety of signature cakes that can be ordered online, perfect for... well... anytime. You can order a cake for literally anything. There's no precedent for ordering a cake. Their Thanksgiving pre-order menu had my stomach growling, with Sweet Potato Orange buns, Sausage Sage quiche, and Dark Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie. Check out their website and browse what they have!
Located in Norfolk, Hummingbird Macarons makes melt-in-your-mouth meringue cookies filled with deliciously flavored buttercream or ganache. Everything they make is from scratch with the highest quality, organic ingredients. They have six classic flavors always available, (Biscoff, Hummingbird, Nutella, Rosewater, Salted Carmel, Vanilla Birthday), and a seasonal collection of over 20 flavors on rotation each day. They also sell specialty cakes and desserts. Don't forget their chocolate chip cookies, which beat out 23 other local bakeries to win the title of best chocolate chip cookies in Hampton Roads based on The Virginian Pilot's blind taste test. And they're vegan, too!
People don't want that national chain's freezer-section pie. Who knows how long that's been sitting there, and I guarantee it was not baked with love, or even by a human. Local bakeries work hard to cultivate an atmosphere and overall experience that makes it a pleasant and worthwhile endeavor. Who knows, you may even start a holiday tradition by shopping at your local bakery. Check out one today!