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While Madison bakeries produce decadent cakes, flavorful cookies and awe-inspiring French patisserie, many spots have perfected the art of creating breads and savory baked goods. At these spots, bakers get up at the crack of dawn to create the perfect ciabatta, develop a plethora of scones or twist hundreds of bagels. Whether you’re craving a croissant, a rustic baguette, an empanada or a slice of hot-and-spicy cheese bread, you’ll find delectable treats at these 12 locations.
What is now a nationally shipped bagel brand started in Madison on University Avenue in 1973. Today, Madison’s Bagels Forever location is still the business’s only retail bakery and storefront. Bagels Forever makes 20 types of bagels. Some favorites include varieties like sesame, cinnamon raisin and Bluebarry. However, if you like a pinch of heat, the New York-style jalapeño cornmeal bagel has actual bits of jalapeño baked into it. Popular options are sold in grocery stores all over Wisconsin and the Midwest. 2947 University Ave., 231-2427
Batch BakehouseThis September, Batch Bakehouse will celebrate 10 years of turning out mouthwatering pastries “before dawn and from scratch.” Owned and operated by two families, this bakery on Williamson Street specializes in bread, croissants, focaccia and sweet pastries. For something different, try the fougasse made with Kalamata olives and Parmesan cheese or oven-dried tomatoes and herbs. This tear-apart bread, made from its sourdough culture, has a tangy flavor and is great for an on-the-go snack. Remember to stop at Batch Bakehouse early — some of the best items sell out quickly. 1402 Williamson St., 257-1652
Beans n Cream Bakehouse
Known as Sun Prairie’s neighborhood coffee shop, Beans n Cream expanded in March 2018 to house a small-batch bakery at a second location on West Main Street. “Sun Prairie is one of Wisconsin’s largest growing communities and second largest city in Dane County, but nobody was making local bread,” says owner Jeff Gauger. As guests sip Cabin Fever lattes (a seasonal offering) made with maple syrup and brown-butter toffee, they can watch bakers create savory delicacies from scratch. Two popular items are the savory scone made with real maple syrup, Wisconsin cheese and bacon and the Wisco Bread, which is baked with gooey cheese curds and topped with ranch seasoning. Bakehouse: 1120 W. Main St., Sun Prairie, 318-1247; Coffeehouse: 345 Cannery Square, Sun Prairie, 837-7737
Clasen’s European Bakery
Made with European-style butter — which has a higher butter-fat content and a sharper taste than regular butter — the croissants at Clasen’s European Bakery have an extra rich flavor and texture. Tom Siewert, the general manager at Clasen’s, says the savory croissants are among the most popular items. Apart from the traditional varieties, Clasen’s sells ham and cheese, spinach and feta, and turkey and cheddar croissants. In addition to croissants, the bakery has more than 40 varieties of bread and savory quiches. Its shop in Middleton offers visitors plenty of samples. “It’s usually people’s first stop. They beeline it for the sample table,” says Siewert, who has been at Clasen’s for 28 years. Siewert says no other bakery in the area allows customers to taste-test like Clasen’s does. 7610 Donna Drive, Middleton, 831-2032
Cress Spring Bakery
On a 160-acre farm outside of Blue Mounds, owner Jeff Ford scavenges dead wood for Cress Spring Bakery’s traditional brick oven, designed by world-renowned oven builder Alan Scott. Ford fires it up one full day to fully heat the bricks before he fills it with the foraged wood. While the bakery doesn’t have a main storefront, the farm opens every Friday to customers looking for fresh bread, including potato kamut made with Wisconsin potatoes, basil and kamut, which is a nonhybridized relative of durum wheat. Cress Spring Bakery is a Dane County Farmers’ Market member, so its products also can be found on Capitol Square on Saturday mornings. 4035 Ryan Road, Blue Mounds, 767-3875
Just Bakery combines community service with delectable products like muffins and multigrain bread. Employees at this bakery are enrolled in a 16-week vocational program designed to teach culinary skills to people with employment barriers. Students who graduate from this nonprofit are automatically accepted into the culinary baking program at Madison College. Half of the students are currently incarcerated or on work release. Just Bakery’s savory croissants were created out of a need to feed the students who came to learn. Carmella Glenn, Just Bakery’s program coordinator, says the students would come to work hungry. “We couldn’t just feed them sugar — they wouldn’t feel satiated,” Glenn says. The program started making the stuffed croissants so the students would learn technical skills but also be fed. Some of the savory flavors include tomato, basil and mozzarella, and spinach, feta cheese and onion. 1704 Thierer Road, 598-0420
Madison Sourdough has been a staple in the city since the early 1990s. Today, the bakery uses its Austrian stone mill to produce whole-grain flours made from Wisconsin-grown grain. Forty percent of the bread made at Madison Sourdough uses this fresh house-made flour, which is also available for purchase. Pick up a rustic baguette or miche, which is a baker’s loaf made with wheat and rye flour. You can throw a slice in the toaster, make a grilled cheese sandwich or bake breadcrumbs for meatloaf with this versatile bread. Maximize your Madison Sourdough experience by sitting on the dog-friendly patio at the café with a slice of its famous sourdough. 916 Williamson St., 442-8009
Manna Cafe & Bakery
Owners Mike and Barb Pratzel call Manna Cafe & Bakery their “fourth labor of love.” When Mike was growing up, his family owned a famous kosher Jewish bakery in St. Louis, and Barb learned to cook at the age of 2. The savory bakery options at this local north-side café abound. Think breads, savory scones and herb and Gouda croissants. In a nod to Mike’s family background, the bakery offers authentic Jewish pastries like rugelach (a filled pastry), challah and bialys, which are yeast rolls similar to bagels. 611 N. Sherman Ave., 663-5500
Nature’s Bakery Cooperative
Nature’s Bakery Cooperative has been operating in some form since the 1960s. Members attended the very first collective bakery conference in 1978. Today the cooperative has eight members, and each member gets equal say and equal pay when it comes to the work that goes into the bakery, which includes delivery, clean-up, packaging and management, according to the company’s website. Although Nature’s Bakery Cooperative is known for its freshly baked granola, it also offers savory bread options. Try a wheat-free flatbread made with stone-ground whole grain tapioca flour, organic brown rice flour and organic millet flour. 1019 Williamson St., 257-3649
Kirk Smock, an author, freelance writer and now baker and business owner, lived in the South American country of Guyana with his wife for two years. “Guyana is a country that is really rice-based, and we couldn’t find great bread,” Smock says. “I was complaining about it and my [now wife] was like, ‘Why don’t you start baking some bread?’” He took on hobby baking before opening ORIGIN Breads in October 2016. All the products are made with 100% organic grains grown in Wisconsin. Smock uses a stone-hearth oven that gives the bread a hearty, crisp crust. One of his popular items, sold at local farmers’ markets during the summer, is “La Madre,” an herb and cheese focaccia with a light, flaky dough and lots of olive oil. “Using the local flour and fresh ingredients gives the flavor profile of the bread a lot more depth. This is a bread, cheese, olive oil package all in one,” Smock says. 2817 E. Washington Ave., 381-2125
Named after the owner’s great-grandmother Stella, Stella’s Bakery makes one of the hottest sellers at the Dane County Farmers’ Market — Stella’s Hot & Spicy Cheese Bread. Julie Winzenried, current owner of the family businesses, says on a busy Saturday the bakery dishes out more than 1,000 fresh-out-of-the-oven loaves. Stella’s also sells savory empanadas. Winzenried’s parents, Max and Coralia Harn, started the bakery more than 30 years ago. Coralia, who is from Panama, wanted to put a Wisconsin touch on her empanadas. Get them in spinach and cheese, mild cheese or spicy cheese. If you have trouble finding the bakery’s tent, just listen for staff members belting out “hot and spicy cheese bread,” and “get ’em while they’re hot.” 2908 Syene Road, 663-2690
Windsor Breads Bakery & Coffeehouse
Many people in this small village of roughly 6,500 make Windsor Breads Bakery & Coffeehouse a regular stop. Located in a 100-year-old bank building in downtown Windsor, the bakery and coffeehouse offers lattes, sweet breads, pastries and made-from-scratch bread. Co-owner Anthony Schnell is a full-time high school chemistry teacher in Lodi. Schnell and his wife Julie continued in their full-time jobs while simultaneously purchasing and relaunching Windsor Breads in the spring of 2012. They offer Community Supported Bakery shares, similar to the Community Supported Agriculture model. Participants receive weekly surprises of freshly baked breads, turnovers, bubble bread, cinnamon rolls and more. 4446 Windsor Road, Windsor, 846-7446
Mackenzie Krumme is an editorial intern at Madison Magazine.
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