|Picket Lane Bakery @ Irvine/UCI Farmers Market... that ciabatta!|
Ten years ago, so-called food "pundits" predicted the demise of bakeries at the hands of the Atkins and South Beach diets. We rolled our eyes then, and we were right, because there's never been a better time to get baked goods in Orange County. From Scandinavian to Vietnamese, from French to Mexican, we are chock-a-block with great places to get bread, cake and pastry. This list was culled from literally a hundred candidates; if your favorite didn't make it, it's not because it's not any good--but let us have it in the comments!
10. Great Dane Baking Company
You have to know what you're looking for at the Great Dane; the display cases showcase the mainstream of what every bakery in the county does. What's special, though, are the actual Scandinavian items. It's the only place in Orange County to bake limpa bread, dream cookies, and cardamom rolls. Not everything is available every day, but a phone call a couple of days in advance is normally all that's needed.11196 Los Alamitos Blvd., Los Alamitos; 562-493-6899; greatdanebakery.com.
Additional location at 6855 Warner Ave., Huntington Beach; 714-842-1130.9. Le Croissant Dore
|Le Croissant Doré|
When you see the line at Le Croissant Dore in Little Saigon, do some mental math. At least two out of every three people in line are there for the fruit tart, widely considered the best example of its kind in all of Southern California. Get one, but also try their chausson aux pommes--apples in a crackly, hot, buttery shell--and their pain au chocolat. If you still have room, take a table and order one of the main dishes they serve.9122 Bolsa Ave., Westminster; 714-895-3070; lecroissantdore.com.8. Panadería Las Tres Princesas
The most hidden gem in Santa Ana is this Oaxacan bakery, nestled in a dingy shopping center about a hundred feet south of the Crush. The usual assortment of pan dulce is supplemented by pan dulce de anís, with just a faint tang of licorice flavor, and rolls stuffed with morsels of Juquilita chocolate. The bolillos and teleras are top-notch and baked several times a day to provide maximum fluffiness. In winter, forgo the coffee in favor of the champurrado--a cup of champurrado and a pan dulce is all you need to start your day.2736 N. Bristol St., Santa Ana; 714-542-2131; no website.