There hasnt been this much lovin from the oven since the Holsum Bakery blanketed South Florida with eau de carb.
Holsum ended 71 years of baking in the sun in 2005, but its aromas are forever entwined with memories of the Coppertone Girl baring her buns over Biscayne Boulevard and Flipper jumping in his end-zone tank at the Orange Bowl every time the Miami Dolphins scored.
Today, a new crop of bakers is harkening back to those seemingly simpler times. With homey interiors and an emphasis on local sourcing, independently owned bakery-cafés are proliferating faster than yeast cells feeding on sugar.
Their growing presence has brought bread back in a big way, reminding us that no matter how big our city gets, we can still enjoy smelling like a small town. Here are four worth checking out:
Acme Bakery & Coffee
If Dick, Jane and Spot were hungry, this is where theyd go.
Big windows let the afternoon sun stream in over the white farm table that dominates one side of the tiny Midtown eatery with an old timey vibe. Visitors are greeted at the door by baskets of baguettes, flute round loaves and cottage loaves along with crooner tunes by Nat King Cole, Etta James and The Ronettes.
Head here for sweet Sally Lunn buns, open-face Reuben sandwiches with homemade sauerkraut on thick slabs of rye, perfect apple pies and bottles of Sun Drop, Moxie and other vintage sodas. Tops on the lunch menu is the BLT, with juicy tomatoes, bacon, lettuce, avocado and pesto mayo on buttery Miami country bread.
Be sure to grab one of the days fresh-baked loaves to take home. (Apricot, fig and walnut sourdough was the hot item on our visit.)
Next to The Cheese Course in the base of an apartment building, 2-month-old Acme is the product of Alejandro Ortiz and his partners, Aniece Meinhold and Cesar Zapata, the same group that created Phuc Yea! and The Federal.
Using his own pre-ferments and Miami-based starters, Ortiz handcrafts the loaves with ingredients, including eggs and milk, from Florida farms. His wife, Alysia Ortiz, helps with the front of house and the line of jams, peppery pickles and ketchup made in-house.
Bread is the main event, but lunch offerings, such as heirloom tomato salad and spicy corn chowder, compliment the carbs. Theres also all-day breakfast biscuits and gravy, cinnamon toast, farmer-cheese pancakes alongside Miamis own Panther Coffee.
Acme Bakery & Coffee, 3451 NE First Ave., Miami (Midtown); 7:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, 7:30 a.m.- 5 p.m. Saturday-Sunday; 786-507-5799, myacmebakery.com.
Lee & Maries Cakery
This is what real bake sales once were made of: Meyer lemon bars, snicker doodles, pecan sandies and Bundt cakes.
Even that Southern favorite, the hummingbird cake with layers of pecans, mashed bananas, crushed pineapple and cream cheese frosting has been revived in this cozy yet sophisticated bakery at the base of the sleek Continuum building on the southern tip of South Beach.
With its whitewashed wood tables, antique cupboards and marzipan cakes in the windows, Lee & Maries is as pretty as a girl in a pinafore. Light jazz hums inside, while wood tables with umbrellas and wicker chairs spill out onto the sidewalk.
The bakery-café, open since early September, serves fancy sandwiches, salads and other savories (chicken curry salad on ciabatta with apples and golden raisins, Caesar salad with brioche croutons and a smoky chorizo manchego cheese quiche, among others), but its the sweets that scream for attention.
Seasonal specialties (available until the end of December) include spiced pumpkin whoopie pies, apple cider butter and pumpkin pie, pecan pie and pumpkin swirl cheesecake.
Theres also a sweet theme built into the places mission. The owner, New York transplant Andrea Andy Travaglia, teams up with the University of Miami/Nova Southeastern Universitys Center for Autism and Related Disabilities to employ autistic adults.
Travaglia named the bistro after her daughters grandmothers and features the matriarchs coconut chocolate cake and cheesecake. Pastry chef Yannis Janssens, formerly of the Fontainebleau and one of Dessert Professional magazines Top Ten Pastry Chefs of 2010, crafts those and other sweets in a Wynwood production kitchen. The variety is mind-boggling, from mini Boston cream pies to sticky Florida coconut croissants to festive biscotti dipped in dark chocolate and peppermint.
The greens (Paradise Farms), milk (Dakin Farms) and even the coffee (Panther) come from Florida sources.
Lee & Maries Cakery, 40 South Pointe Dr., Miami Beach; 7 a.m.-7 p.m. daily; 305-672-5167, leeandmaries.com.
Sweetness Bake Shop & Cafe
Better known for its sweet fleet of Sugar Rush trucks shilling Krispy Kreme bread pudding and deep-fried Oreos around South Florida, Sweetness Bake Shop is the brick-and-mortar base for baked-from-scratch desserts with a Miami twist.
We cant decide which is better: The mini-cupcakes and dessert shots that satisfy sweet cravings in two bites or the clever names and flavor combos. Go traditional with the Thrilla in Vanilla, a bourbon-vanilla bean cupcake with vanilla bean buttercream, or local with the Guayabera, a guava cupcake with guava filling and cream cheese frosting.
Cupcake flavors vary, with butter pecan, maple pumpkin, sweet potato, pumpkin cheesecake, apple spice, caramel corn and red velvet in the rotation on one recent visit. If youre lucky, youll time it right for the maple bacon cupcake, topped with maple butter cream and a garnish of bacon and sea salt.
Opened since 2010, Sweetness is a family affair. Its run by Stephanie Diaz-Perez with partners J.C. Perez (her husband), Yamile Diaz (her mother) and Danny Diaz (her brother). Just west of South Miami, the café with lime-green walls is a frothy confection carved out of a strip mall. A wood floor and couches encourage hanging out.
Along with the fun desserts, there are hearty sandwiches, wraps, burgers and melts, some with sweet touches such as mango spread and apricot jam, paired with grilled chicken and roasted turkey.
Sweetness Bake Shop, 9549 Sunset Dr., Miami; 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-midnight Friday-Saturday; 305-271-7791, sweetnessbakeshop.net.
Crumb on Parchment
Celebrity chef Michelle Bernsteins brief-lived South Beach Crumb on Parchment failed to rise, but the original remains in the Design District for lunching on classic sandwiches and salads and a daily rotation of desserts such as coconut cake, blondie brownies and lemon meringue pie.
Opened last year, the bakery-café relies upon Bernsteins mothers recipes for much of the comfort-food menu. Mismatched couches, chunky tables and chairs make you feel like youre eating in somebodys living room.
Located in the high-ceilinged atrium of the 3930 Building, the cash-only spot has seven sandwiches, ranging from a grilled Cheddar cheese on butter bread to pulled rotisserie chicken on ciabatta with goat cheese, apples, onions and arugula. There are also chopped salads, wines by the glass and breakfast (oatmeal, granola, eggs) all day.
The spotlight, however, is on the sweet stuff. Glass domes showcase fig and pear cake, chocolate chunk cookies and scones, both savory and sweet.
Crumb on Parchment, 3930 NE Second Ave., Miami; 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday; 305-572-9444.