Spring has arrived, and the glass display cases of Clark County’s artisan bakeries are flowing with seasonal delicacies. If you peek into these bakeries, you will find treats adorned with pastel-colored frosting and sprinkles and Easter cookies shaped like bunnies, eggs and carrots. Here are some of the spring-y treasures I found while visiting several of my favorite local bakeries.
My first stop was at Stephanie NcNees’ adorable bakery next to Woody’s Tacos on Columbia Street in Vancouver. Everything in this shop is made fresh daily from the best ingredients. Whenever I stop in, Stephanie is hard at work mixing, shaping, and baking delectable treats (like homemade jam, strawberry rhubarb pies, chocolate chip cookies sprinkled with sea salt) and filling her small store front with intoxicating aromas.
On this visit, I chose a mini-pie with strawberry rhubarb, a frosted cookie with pastel sprinkles, and her house-made version of Ding Dongs. The strawberry rhubarb pie was filled with fresh strawberries and tangy rhubarb placed in a pie crust and topped with a brown sugar crumble. The frosted cookie was chewy and rich, topped with a swirl of vanilla buttercream frosting and pastel-colored nonpareils. The Ding Dong was wrapped in a lavender foil. These chocolate dipped chocolate cupcakes filled with a creamy white filling are wrapped in a variety of pastel foil. They would look nice tucked into an Easter basket.
Rosycakes is a family-run business, owned and operated by the Williams family. It opened a couple of years ago right next to Paper Tiger Coffee Roasters on the corner of Grand Avenue and Evergreen Boulevard. The store is painted pale pink and when you walk in you see glass display cases filled with fresh-baked goodies.
I chose an Oregon strawberry jam thumbprint cookies and Rosycakes’ signature sugar cookie frosted with pale pink frosting swirled into petal shapes to form a rose.
In popular culture, this shade of pink would be referred to as Millennial pink; but here, it is called Rosycake pink and everyone baking here uses the shade of paint on the wall to make sure the frosting is dyed to the correct hue. The sugar cookie was as good as it looks — a thick buttery, chewy sugar cookie topped with swirls of rich buttercream Rosycake pink frosting.
After trying the frosted sugar cookie, I sampled the thumbprint cookie with Oregon strawberry jam. The bottom part of this delicate cookie was nutty, crumbly, and a bit chewy. The house-made strawberry jam pressed into the center tasted like fresh-picked summer fruit.
Dana Carpenter’s small coffee shop on Southeast 192nd Avenue (look for the Tapped Brewhouse & Pub sign) is filled with house-made, Italian-inspired baked goods.
I am always amazed at the amount of fresh baked goods she has on display. Dana learned to bake by helping her Italian grandmothers and then baking at pasticcerias (sweet bakeries) in Rome and Naples, Italy. I bought several frosted sugar cookies — a bunny, a carrot, and an Easter egg. These sugar cookies were lighter, less chewy, and not as sweet as the kind you find in most American bakeries. The frosting is meringue-y and crisp.
It reminded me of the cookies you would eat for breakfast in Italy — perfect to dunk in a demitasse filled with hot espresso.
Rachel Pinsky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram (@foodcouverusa) and Twitter (@foodcouverusa1)