Is there anything better than the smell of fresh baked goods? And the joy of choosing a treat from a captivating cake line-up? Flaky pastries, delectable tarts, chewy cookies - there are many levels of indulgent sweet treats around, especially in this Instagram loving era. But buyer beware, likes on 'the gram' do not guarantee great gastronomy. Truly good baking is more than pretty icing. Thankfully, there are many talented bakers spotted around the city, putting love, attention, art and most importantly, great ingredients to good use and creating what I think are the best places baking right now. So put on your comfy pants and head hungry for some sugary highs this weekend…
Clanbrassil Coffee Shop, 6 Clanbrassil Street Upper, Dublin 8
The newly-opened cafe on the side of Clanbrassil House mirrors the restaurants casual, creative style and offers a pared-back bakery selection that is worth seeking out. Get there early to nab the best selection, which can include sea salt brownies, lemon curd palmiers, buttery croissants and the star for me - Paris Brest, a delicate choux pastry ring with praline cream piped in the middle. Sourdough loaves and homemade sausage rolls have already garnered a strong local following and the coffee is great. With only 5 seats in-house, plan for a takeaway.
Camerino Bakery, 158 Capel street, Dublin 1
This modern Capel Street bakery is a busy spot and with good reason. A decadent brownie selection, widely regarded as the best in town, are rich and fudgey and come in flavours like chocolate raspberry cheesecake, chocolate orange and peanut butter. There’s an enchanting display of cakes, all made with top notch ingredients, meaning they taste as good as they look - and they all look pretty impressive, dripping with icing or piled with fresh fruit. If you’re not near Capel Street, don’t fret; you’ll find Camerino’s dreamy bakes on counters all around town as they do an impressive wholesale business too.
Slice, 56 Manor Place, Stoneybatter, Dublin 7
Twitter @sliceD7 Insta @slicedublin7
As the name would suggest, slices of cake are high on the agenda in this friendly Stoneybatter cafe. They do a wonderful selection of free-from bakes, still packed full of flavour - courgette cake with citrus curd cream, sweet potato brownie and vegan chocolate caramel slices. These sit happily alongside classics (free from nothing), like Chocolate and Guinness cake. Keep an eye on their Facebook page where they announce their monthly 'Durty Doughnut' and homemade indulgences like ‘The Mikado’ with blackcurrant and coconut buttercream and berry jam filling. It would be rude not to.
Sasha House Petite, Drury Street, Dublin 2
Look out for this tiny nook of a café beside the entrance to Drury Street car park. Inside, you’ll find an impressive selection of elegant pastries baked by their talented French/ Slavic pastry chefs. Join clued-in office workers in the morning for freshly baked, buttery pain au chocolat, almond croissants and excellent coffee. Browse the shining light of their display cabinet for elegant patisseries and sweet, sugary works of art. Choose from homemade macaroons, Opera cake, delicate tartlets, divine homemade eclairs and plenty more. You’ll find it hard to leave without a box.
Scéal Bakery, various locations
A micro-bakery with a well-deserved cult following, Scéal specialise in well crafted, lip-smackingly good sourdough breads and laminated pastries. Everything is slow fermented and lovingly baked, with flavours changing with the seasons. Croissants include classic, almond and the divine twice-baked, all made with only Irish butter. The ever-changing cruffin flavours are almost poetic, with fillings like malted milk chocolate creme and candied kumquats or white chocolate with McNally’s blackcurrant creme. They don’t have a bricks-and-mortar site, but seek them out at local Dublin markets and in select coffee shops around the city, always listed on their website.
The Cupcake Bloke, Market stall at 5 Coppinger Row, Dublin 2
At this bright, buzzy, well-loved market stall, you’ll find perfectly iced cupcakes with rotating flavours that toy with tastes. You can tell they are having fun when they bake. Classic combos like red velvet are joined by nostalgic toppings; mint Aero or sprinkles and often a boozy cake thrown in the mix, most recently made with Irish gins. Their old-fashioned earl grey tea brack, wrapped in pastel paper & string, looks the part and goes down easy with a pot of tea as do their award-winning scones. They will be opening their first sit down shop in June in Rialto and can be found popping up various fun food events over the summer, including Gin Fusion, Taste of Dublin, The Big Grill and Electric Picnic.
Dolce Sicily, 43 Dawson Street, Dublin 2
Cannoli are a cake with a reputation that precedes them. Hotly debated around Sicily and Italy, they have a cult on-screen reputation, featuring in many a gangster story like The Godfather and Sopranos. But what are they? Cannoli, meaning little tubes, is a tube of pastry, deep fried to crispness and then filled with a creamy ricotta middle. Lucky for us in Dublin, Dolce Sicily are cannoli experts. Head here to taste these wondrous bites for yourself. They also have a fine selection of other Italian treats on offer.
Reference Coffee (Meet Me In The Morning), 50 Pleasants St, Dublin 8
Meet Me In The Morning, well known for bright, beautiful lunch and brunch dishes, does a sneaky sideline in great sweet treats and very good coffee. Next door to the bustling cafe, you’ll find Reference Coffee, a dainty take-away counter where you’ll also be able to find their daily doughnut offering. Freshly baked every day, the fillings, which are often foraged from local parks, vary from seabuckthorn to blood orange, damsons, elderberries and cinnamon spiced cheesecake. I defy you not to order one and wash it down with a perfectly made La Cabra coffee.