Let’s face it: We’re not all bakers. But banning Betty Crocker from our lives doesn’t mean we can’t take post-dinner celebrations seriously. Here’s where to start if you want to make a great dessert without actually making dessert.
THE ALMIGHTY PIE
Best Pies to Go
No matter how famous your grandmother’s pie crust may be, you’ll need to make room for one of our favorites. For apple pie, our first pick is Volunteer Park Café and sibling Canal Market’s gorgeous apple pies ($22, from Volunteer Park Cafe, Capitol Hill, 1501 17th Ave. E; 206.328.3155; alwaysfreshgoodness.com; Canal Market, Portage Bay, 2919 Fuhrman Ave. E; 206.588.2893; canalmarketseattle.com). Made with cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and lemon zest, the fruit gels with a deeply caramelized sauce that makes even the fanciest vanilla ice cream blush. For pecan pie, try the dark chocolate- and whiskey-tinged version from Columbia City Bakery (Pies are made to order; call ahead. $28. Columbia City, 4865 Rainier Ave. S; 206.723.6023;
columbiacitybakery.com). Made with maple syrup in lieu of the more traditional corn syrup, this pie is the antithesis of the sticky, overly sweet version.
THE CHOCOLATE BOMB
Hot Cakes’ ‘Dark Decadence’ Organic Molten Chocolate Cake
If anyone can make a buy-and-bake dessert look elegant and bespoke, it’s Hot Cakes’ Autumn Martin, the brains behind the concept she launched for farmers’ markets years ago. For chocolate lovers, her Baby Cakes ($36 for four), sold premade in glass jars you simply pop into a hot oven, are your best bet for effortless holiday entertaining. Once you serve those rich, pillowy cakes piping hot, you’ll understand why some of us are tempted to take the credit for her genius. Ballard, 5427 Ballard Ave. NW; 206.453.3792; Capitol Hill, 1650 E Olive Way; 206.258.2591; getyourhotcakes.com
TOP IT OFF
Whip It Good
We think freshly whipped cream should be rich and buttery enough to be served on its own, yet equally fit for topping pie. Fresh Breeze Organic Dairy’s organic heavy whipping cream (Lynden; freshbreezeorganic.com) carries a whiff of the grassy barnyard flavor that often distinguishes farm-fresh cream from blandish factory farms’ products, but not so much that it taints your dessert. Available at Ballard Market, Marketime Foods and Central Co-op, plus Whole Foods stores in Roosevelt, Interbay and Westlake.
COOL IT OFF
Go À La Mode
Kurt Timmermeister—the gifted Vashon Island cheesemaker responsible for Dinah’s Cheese—is now channeling his cows’ efforts into making ice cream for Kurt’s Farm Shop, where offbeat flavors such as bay laurel and rose geranium are redefining how we think of our favorite frozen treat. Since each of his unique holiday flavors doubles as a conversation starter (think French pumpkin; salted plum; and nocino liqueur, made from green walnuts), you can serve them alone—no baking necessary. Capitol Hill, 1424 11th Ave.; kurtwoodfarms.com
THE ITALIAN TRADITION
Grand Central Bakery’s Panettone Bread
Lemon-scented and crowned with pearl sugar, Grand Central’s take on Italian panettone combines the buttery, rich flavor of a brioche-like dough with candied citrus, almonds, raisins and plenty of vanilla. True to Italian tradition, GCB relies on a day-long triple-rise method for a light, airy texture, then hangs its breads upside down to form those perfectly domed tops as they cool. Slice panettone into big wedges, toast it in a buttered pan, and serve it with whipped mascarpone. Available at Grand Central Bakery cafès (grandcentralbakery.com) or at area Metropolitan Markets (metropolitan-market.com).
THE JEWISH DOUGHNUT
Top Pot Doughnuts’ yearly foray into sufganiyot, the jelly-filled treat traditionally served during the Jewish holiday, yields its “Hanukkah doughnut,” a large, powdered-sugar-dusted beauty with copious quantities of raspberry jam that reminds us that, yes, oil is a miracle. And although Renee Erickson’s new doughnut joint isn’t targeting a Jewish audience per se, her tender takes on jam-filled doughnuts (think apricot and a rainbow of marmalades) will satisfy the craving during the holidays and beyond. Available at all 17 Seattle-area locations 12/6–12/13 (toppotdoughnuts.com).
Go back to the main Ultimate Holiday Take-Out Feast article.