Throw-Back Decadence from Portland's Top Bakeries, Cakeries, and Pie Shops

By the slice or the spoonful, we’ll never grow tired of pure nostalgia.

By Kelly Clarke February 11, 2015 Published in the February 2015 issue of Portland Monthly

Papa Haydn's Boccone Dolce.

Palace Cakes' Rustic Treats (Now Closed)

“Why can’t I just find a good slice of yellow cake with chocolate frosting in this town?” groused baker Elizabeth Beekley. The Two Tarts cookie master craved homespun classics—rich, not too sweet, made with good, local eggs and butter. So naturally, she started baking them herself at her sunny new shop. Turns out, it’s her cakes we’ve all been craving.

Cakes by baker Elizabeth Beekley

Enriched Uranium (Yellow) Cake

A lofty powerhouse of buttery, big-crumbed layers flecked with vanilla bean and tangy with buttermilk, absolutely slathered with feather-light Swiss-style buttercream tinged with malt-spiked bittersweet chocolate.

Gateau Basque

This textural chameleon hides an oozy pocket of cinnamony crème Catalan inside a supremely chewy, nutty-sweet almond-flour cake. It morphs from pudding to cookie dough to just-baked cookie edges with every mood-altering bite.

Bucky Cupcakes

Choose rich coffee and chocolate Joe cake adorned with coffee mocha buttercream or sweet-spicy triple ginger—both come piped with Beekley’s frosting riff on Buckminster Fuller’s neofuturist domes.

Pie Pac

Whatever the season or ingredient, these pies always nab top scores.

Sweedeedee Salted Honey Pie 

It’s a sweet-and-salty, butterscotchy joy bomb, thick with cornmeal and Corvallis’s lovely, single-hive Old Blue honey. 

Random Order’s Oregon Cherry Pie 

Flaky lattice above; megajuicy, not-too-tart cherries below. Amen. 

Lauretta Jean’s Chocolate Chess Pie 

A creamy, glistening void of dark chocolate and buttermilk tang cosseted in grandma-worthy crust. 

Bonus points: Happy hour pie slices are $3.50 from 5 to 7 p.m. Monday–Saturday at Lauretta Jean’s SE Division Street café.

Kyra’s Signature Cupcake at Kyra’s Bake Shop

Kyra Bussanich’s name alone brings gluten-avoiders to their knees, reciting paeans to her princess-pretty Lake Oswego bakery’s wheatless sweetness. The pinnacle? Her intensely moist, midnight-dark chocolate cupcake, injected with hazelnut salted caramel goo, under a coronet of thick, aggressively espresso-smacked Italian meringue buttercream and gold sparkles (!). Even GF-scoffers gotta admit: this is cupcake royalty.

Milk Glass Mrkt's Cookies

Nancye Benson, who once ran the cult brunch, baked goods, and smoothie cart Moxie Rx, returns to NoPo with her finely tuned takes on classic sweets at her sunny new café. 

Double Chocolate Almond, Ginger Lime Macaroon and Chocolate Sea Salt cookies.

Double Chocolate Almond

Benson employs both dark and milk chocolate shards for a teeter-totter of toasted nutty goodness in every chewy-crisp bite.

Ginger Lime Macaroon

Wide curls of raw coconut turn these flavor-bright, caramelized sugar stacks into nubby-wonderful bites.

Chocolate Sea Salt 

A sandy, buttery sphere set off by a buckshot load of salt up top—this is what ambitious Oreos aspire to be once they ditch their cream.

Three Old-School Desserts to Crush On

Courier Coffee’s Cannelé

Crush duration: 3 years
Crack this little French domed pastry’s beeswaxy, burnt-sugar shell and gorge on the spongy, rum-sweet, impossibly eggy interior for a study in sweet contrast.

Irving Street Kitchen’s Butterscotch Pudding

Crush duration: 4 years
Pure luxury in a Ball jar—silky pudding bursting with salty toffee notes, layered with deep, bittersweet caramel gloss perfumed with banana for the perfect balance of chic sweetness and homey nostalgia.

Papa Haydn’s Boccone Dolce

Crush duration: 36 years
It’s the Katy Perry of local desserts: a floofy, towering embarrassment of meringue discs, whipped cream, and bright, juicy berries. It looks a bit silly, but when those brittle, airy sugar clouds shatter on your tongue, your eyes will roll—not from sarcasm, but from ecstasy.

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