I'm annoyingly vocal about baked goods—persnickety, even—and I'm convinced that society is far too accepting of mediocrity when it comes to the other sweet science. It's the formulaic element to many bakeries that turns me off. An obscene pile of uninspired frosting just for the visual Wow! factor is lazy. I like a cookie that's misshapen, a crumb that's moist and, overall, a feeling that every batch of dough or batter has someone's personal spin and heart put into it—not just an attempt to glom on to a trend.
In trying to put my finger on just what I want from a bakery, Petite Madeline's in Oceanside may have gotten me one step closer to the answer. It's polished yet imperfect, in a way that reminds you of a flour-happy friend.
There are two locations, one a bit more petite than the other. The smaller storefront, situated in a shopping center just down the road from Mission San Luis Rey, is the only one serving breakfast and lunch at this time. The bright and spacious bakery on Highway 101 in the heart of old Oceanside is at this time serving only coffee drinks and pastries. By the end of August, though, they'll be serving the full menu.
But back to those baked goods: I find it's usually the simplest treats, done well, that stay in my memory. The bakery's All Day Bun is one of those little pleasures I'm still thinking about days later. They call it their version of a cinnamon roll, but this is a far lighter treat than the average sticky bun. The knot of sweetness is made with croissant dough as opposed to heavier yeast dough. The outside is liberally coated with cinnamon and sugar, and tearing into its center reveals just enough of a soft and buttery gooeyness to satisfy. I already have romantic visions of strolling along the pier, bun in one hand, cappuccino in the other, my 7-month-old snugly tucked in a Baby Bjorn, behaving herself, happily needing nothing more than an ocean breeze and some good people watching. (A mama can dream.) But this is what just a simple sweet bun can evoke.
I'm also an unapologetic scone snob. Rarely do I find a scone in a coffeehouse or bakery that couldn't also be used as a shot put. Petite Madeline's feels my pain and makes a scone that's dense but with a soft crumb that evokes the heavy cream that's part of any self-respecting scone.
I tend to avoid the over-the-top sugar bombs that are many bakeries' signature offerings. But I was intrigued by a parfait-like cup of fudgy chocolate- cake chunks, peanut-butter mousse and pretzels. The classic chocolate-and-peanut-butter combo didn't disappoint, but, sadly, the pretzels turn stale after sitting in the moist mousse environment. The anticipated salty crunch fell flat.
Some days call for a sweet little nibble of quality, and maybe a stroll on the beach. Friendly Petite Madeline answers the call.
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