My weakness is bakeries. I will cross bridges and tunnels and then some in search of the perfect croissant, brownie, cream puff—you name it. I never met a piece of loaf cake I didn’t like, and I’d be hard-pressed to pass up a gourmet donut. A meal is unfinished without something sweet to signal the end. Unfortunately, I’ve stumbled across a few disappointments—a mediocre lemon bar here, a dry cupcake there, and have thought, “Mine tastes better than this!” Not to mention, I could have made it in my own kitchen at a fraction of the price.
I’ve concluded that bakery cookies rarely surprise, but homemade ones surpass modest expectations. Layer cakes aren’t often worth the DIY effort, but a big frosted piece of whatever looks good in the glass case at your local bakery is probably worth the investment (in dollars and calories). Croissants—really, really good croissants—are impossible to replicate in a home kitchen and should definitely be left to the professionals.