From Simple to Incredible, Savory to Sweet: Baltimore's Bakeries Have It All
By Tamar Alexia Fleishman
Baltimore Local Expert
Most of Baltimore's bakeries have ethnic origins, with the one of the earliest dating back to 1835 in East Baltimore by German immigrant Henry Berger. He created the sugary-chocolate iced vanilla Berger cookies, a Baltimore cultural icon. Not only are the cookies widely available in grocery stores throughout the metro area, you can even download a Berger cookie emoji for your phone! There are other very old German bakeries in Baltimore, which is no surprise if you know your colonial history. There were so many German immigrants in the city, the primary language spoken down by what is now the Inner Harbor was German!
Baltimore's other immigrants from around the world have influenced the crispy, crunchy and tender baked goods available in the city. Whether you explore the exotic Asian baked offerings at La Boulangerie or the classic French elegance of Patisserie Poupon, you'll quickly see that Baltimore's culinary scene is growing in global sophistication.
Baltimore is too far south to have adopted New England's steamed and cooled brown breads and a little too north to have really have taken to the hot cornbread served at dinner in the Deep South. But the city has its own traditional flavors that families cherish and enjoy to this day. Keep your eyes open in Baltimore for beaten biscuits, a primitive cold biscuit first made on Maryland's Eastern Shore. Much like hardtack straight out of the bag, try heating these lard-based biscuits with a little butter and honey!
It used to be that people who had to eat gluten-free had to live a whole different lifestyle, have a whole different diet from the rest of the world. Even the ancient traditions and joys of "passing the bread" -- so important in Russian and other cultures -- had to be forgone. Even traditional British country-side and Colonial America desserts with breaded toppings, such as clabbers, cobblers, clafoutis, Brown Bettys, etc., were forbidden. For many, baked goods means comfort food!Hampden's Harmony Bakery has come to the rescue. They mill alternative flours, such as oat and almond, right on the premises. They make everything from classic bake shop goodies like cake donuts to more niche treats like vegan raw cashew "cheesecake". A non-vegan, but decadent savory creation is their tomato-cheese biscuits using local tomatoes. And, for something to go with your biscuits, they have raw salads, too! (410-235-3870)
Are you putting together a special cocktail party, tea party or tailgating fiesta? How do you plan on making your sandwiches look and taste better than what your mom threw into brown lunch bag decades ago? Baking is as much a science as an art . . .
Graul's makes so many different breads each day! There's not just one kind of little roll: for little sandwiches and sliders, select from mini Parker House rolls, cheese biscuits, slider rolls and many more. Looking for full-sized? Lots of multi-grains, flavors, thicknesses (like Texas toast) and styles await.
They also have all your sweet treats needs covered: everything from cookies to fruit pies and even custom wedding cakes are available.
Graul's only uses all natural ingredients in their recipes, some of which have been passed down through three generations of their family. (410-823-6077)
If you've only had bagels from the grocery store freezer, you don't know what you've been missing! Goldberg's started in New York in the 1900's, with a secret Polish recipe. They sell many varieties -- sweet and savory -- though some flavors run out by lunchtime. Flavors include Plain, Salt, Poppy Seed, Garlic, Sesame Seed, Onion, Blueberry, Marble Rye, Egg, Chocolate Chip, Everything, Pumpernickel, Cinnamon Raisin, Black Russian, Sun‑Dried Tomato, Jalapeno, Everything Stick, Oat Bran, Multi Grain, Honey Whole Wheat, Whole Wheat Everything.
This is also a place to get tasty, but hard to find bialys. Those are flat, indented yeast cakes often topped with toasted onions.
Of course, it's great to have something on your bagel! There are several cream cheese spreads, lox and fish salads.Goldberg's has a few sweet baked goods, too, including Rugelach -- tender tri-cornered pastry with filling like raisin -- and New York pastries. (410-415-7001)
Though La Boulangerie has a French name, they actually sell Korean desserts. Many Asian desserts have a low-key level of sweetness, so there are lots of culinary uses for them besides the perfect match for a Korean supper. Breakfast, tea time, after-school snacks, late-night snacks are all occasions for a less tooth-aching repast.
Located in Ellicott City across the parking lot from Lotte, a Korean supermarket, this is just the place to get the finishing touches on an authentic Korean meal.
There are several starchy desserts, including red bean, baby white bean and even green bean! Light and fluffy breads include milk bread and corn bread that's puffier than Southern style. Chestnut bread has a delicate sweetness with crunchy/juicy pieces of chestnut that's ridiculously addictive.You can also get born-in-Asia bubble tea with tapioca pearls, as well as soft-serve ice cream. (410-203-2000)
MoMo Bakery has the magical combination of quality, convenience and location. An independent boutique Korean bakery nested right inside the front door at Catonville's H-Mart, you get the quality of a pastry chef inside a massive supermarket.
They very nearly mimic H-Mart's extensive hours: Momo Bakery is open every day from 9 am to 9:30 pm. That's a game changer! How many times did you forget about someone's birthday and had to pick up a cake at the very last minute? Or it was a Sunday, Columbus Day, what-have-you?MoMo Bakery not only sells Korean less-sweet treats like red bean paste cakes, but also chic French treats like macarons at a modest price. (443-612-9027)
Anybody in Baltimore with German roots most likely has ancestors who lived in East Baltimore and the Highlandtown neighborhood. Where there used to be many German businesses, Hoehn's still stands today. Family owned and operated since 1927, the bakery is in an old-fashioned building in the heart of Highlandtown.Their peach cake is made with local peaches -- for which Maryland is world-famous. So, summer's their natural season. When Hoehn's can't get hold of the finest local peaches, they stop making the cake for the year! You'll seriously believe that their modestly priced fruit cakes must be props for magazines: how could such huge, beautiful, glowing fruits be real? They're as luscious as they look. (410-685-2884)
For some of us, grandma's baked goods are just a distant memory. Step back in flavor history with their poppy seed cakes, Polish "bow ties" and other less-sweet desserts. Certainly, Herman's cool 1970's era signage will serve as a flashback: true vintage!
Herman's was the go-to bakery for special occasions in Highlandtown beginning in 1923 and then opened in Baltimore County's Dundalk in 1958. If Grandma's still around but doesn't feel like baking, she'll definitely be familiar with Herman's high quality baked goods.They make lovely wedding cakes, cute-as-a-button cupcakes for princess parties, as well as not-glamorous but delectable Boston Cream cakes. Their custard filling is decadently rich! (410-284-5590)
It all started for Patisserie Poupon in East Baltimore, where they still have their signature location. Washington society also enjoys a branch in Georgetown. Baltimore has a second cafe'-style spot right downtown that's a favorite with in-the-know classical musicians, lawyers and grad students. There, they serve French delicacies for breakfast and lunch -- think duck mousse on fresh brioche.
At East Baltimore Street, fresh breads go lickety-split out the door, so come early in the morning. They authentically master the complex French desserts that you wouldn't dare try at home: macarons, dacquoise and the Proustian madeleine. Light-but-rich mousses, tender cakes, sophisticated flavors will all conspire to make your choices even more difficult.
Patisserie Poupon is the go-to for glamorous wedding cakes and colorful French dragee' almonds.(410-332-0390)
The little purple house on Falls Road has seating inside and out, for the authentic French cafe experience. Start your morning shopping with a hazelnut coffee with extra buzz. If you come early enough in the morning, you'll have a chance to snag their popular French bread, such as brioche, baguettes and French dinner rolls. If not, they have a sizable selection of freshly baked cookies to munch on.
Savory quiches, croissants and pissaladierres are good for brunch or take them home for a light dinner. Delicate, artistic pastries and custom cakes are some of the more elegant dessert options. Or, get your coffee and casual sweet treat, then head to their adjacent garage, which houses Haute Dog hot dog stand during lunch time. (410-372-0238)
Sure, you can get lots of authentic Greek specialties like baklava, galaktobouriko, kourambiedes, melomakarona at Yia Yia's. But they also do an impressive job creating the baked goods of many other ethnicities!
Check out French Napoleons and petit fours, Polish bow ties and Italian cannolis. Then, check out the All-American favorites like Boston Cream pie, peanut butter mousse pie, cherry pie, pecan pie and pumpkin pie in season.
They are able to craft glamorous wedding cakes that look more like a bridal magazine spread than anything most "yia yias" ("grandmas" in Greek) ever were able to conquer.Additionally, they make a full range of savory breads for your table: bagels, ciabatta bread, rye, sourdough, "Baltimore raisin bread" and more. (410-238-2253)
About Tamar Alexia Fleishman
It takes a Renaissance woman to cover cool, shocking, tasty and thought-provoking things. Tamar was a professional violinist, studying with Daniel Heifetz at Peabody Conservatory, serving as Principal Second with Annapolis Symphony. She earned her BA in Political Science from Goucher, her JD from the University of Baltimore and is a member of the Maryland Bar. She’s appeared on TV with Bill Maher, Greta Van Susteren and Peter Frampton. A foodie, she’s judged the Roadkill Cookoff, the International Water Tasting Fest, the Mason-Dixon Chef Tournament. Tamar’s a Kentucky Colonel, a beauty pageant winner and managed Southern rock and alt-country bands.
Read more about Tamar Alexia Fleishman here.