Written by Carey Sweet Category: Three Bites Issue: March 2012

Au Petit Four
7217 E. Fourth Ave., Scottsdale
French pastries taste more authentique when preceded by a bonjour. That’s what you get when you visit this flour-and-sugar-perfumed patisserie from French owners Catherine and Pierre Berraud-Dufour. The duo trained in Lyon and, for the past decade, ran their French restaurant and bakery at Phoenix’s Esplanade. This past winter, they relocated to larger space in Scottsdale – all the better to tempt us with endless varieties of éclairs, palmiers, scones, elaborately topped cakes, cookies, tarts and glossy golden croissants. The pastry puff of Normand vanilla cream cooked with fresh apples and chiboust cream is magnificent, but we also adore the lychee raspberry rose mousse and coconut cake, the Bavarian apple tart, the gooey vanilla éclair, and the oranais brioche oozing apricot and vanilla custard cream. The café also serves full French meals, including a ham and cheese croissant slathered with béchamel sauce alongside creamy scrambled eggs; a baguette brimming with smoked duck and warm potatoes; and slow-cooked Boeuf Bourguignon that would make Julia Child jealous.

The Baker’s Daughter

8847 N. Seventh Ave., Phoenix
You know what they say: The family that makes bread together, makes “bread” together. Karl Boerner – who crafted his first loaf of bread in Germany about 56 years ago – moved his family to Arizona in the early 90s and opened Karl’s Quality Bakery in Sunnyslope. His daughter Christine Boerner started helping customers as soon as she could see over the counter, and baked her first loaf in the deck oven at age 12. After high school, she trained in Switzerland under master pastry chef Oliver Hofmann, followed by a three-year apprenticeship. Ultimately, she returned to Arizona and opened this contemporary pastry and chocolate shop next door to the old family bakery. She crafts rich homemade chocolates, mouthwatering fancy shortbreads, billowy frosting- and cream-capped cupcakes, brightly colored petit fours and elaborate gateaux such as red velvet cake decked with pink fondant roses and lime-green leaves. Stop by on Sundays, when Christine serves sit-down breakfasts, featuring made-to-order coffees, omelets and crêpes.


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Cruelty Free Cupcakes

3000 E. Ray Rd., Gilbert
It’s not the most appetizing appellation, but it is accurate: This bakery tucked inside The Coffee Shop features 100 percent vegan cupcakes, pies, cakes, cookies and Whoopie pies. Owner/chief baker Jenna Flowers takes custom requests, too, so if you’re allergic to nuts, gluten, or even chocolate, she’ll find delicious substitutes to satisfy your confectionary cravings. Flowers is also co-owner of The Coffee Shop, so customers can get her fresh-from-the-oven selections there, or pre-order online for pick-up at the restaurant. Fair warning: Pastries are drop-dead gorgeous, so don’t browse hungry. It’s nearly impossible to resist seasonal beauties like a candy-cane cupcake so elaborately styled it looks like a Marie Antoinette pouf in pink sugar, or Turtle cupcakes glistening with caramel and crowned with pecans. Indulge in dozens of flavors, like “Hostess with the Vostess” stuffed with “ricemellow” filling, Pineapple Upside Down, “Puppy Chow” (frosted cereal), or a tiny cake fashioned just like a chocolate sundae (complete with whipped cream and a cherry). Other treats include vegan sugar cookies, vegan pumpkin pie and gluten-free vegan Snickerdoodle cookies. And when you purchase a dozen cupcakes, you get “one for the road” – a baker’s choice sampler cupcake.