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Bountiful Bakeries: The Midlands

Libby Wiersema Libby Wiersema
Libby Wiersema lived in California and Alabama before settling in South Carolina 30 years ago, where she's covered the state's best culinary offerings and tells the stories behind the food.
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The smells. The sights. The flavors. The freshness. The voices. Together, these qualities define the bakery experience. If it’s a good one, your visual, olfactory, gustatory and auditory senses will spring to life the second you walk through the door. Intoxicating aromas should be in full bloom. A well-stocked bakery case should visually delight the eyes. Your taste buds should stand at attention as you consider your options. And your ears should fill with the sounds of a warm welcome.

If you stopped by such a bakery for a donut or muffin, rest assured you’ll be walking out with at least five or six more goodies. Your lack of resistance is a sign that good bakery protocols have been put in place.

The Midlands is a hotspot for freshly baked goods. If scratch-made pastries, cakes, pies and breads make your heart go thumpity thump, you’re in the right place for satisfying your urge for something warm and delicious. Here is a sampling of some of the best bakeries in the area. (Note: Call for availability of featured items.)

Ally & Eloise, Columbia 
You can taste the fresh ingredients in the baked goods at Ally & Eloise. From cakes to pastries and sweet treats, the baked-from-scratch vibe is strong here. Express and pre-order menus are available. Just call ahead and your picks will be ready and waiting in an hour.
Treats to try: Apple pie bars, sour cream coffee cake bread pudding, carrot cake

Blue Flour Bakery, Irmo 
The mixers are whirling and the ovens are stoked each day at this bakery. With meticulous attention to detail, the bakers crank out small batches of cookies and desserts designed to please the eye and palate. You’ll want to fill your tummy with these inspired sweets.
Treats to try: Sugar cookies, ginger spice cookies, lemon bars

Carolina Keto Cakes, Lexington 
Keto adherents will jump for joy when they stop by this specialized bakery. The locally owned shop offers gluten-free, sugar-free baked goods to help meet your dietary needs and satisfy your sweet tooth.
Treats to try: Brookies (brownie-cookie), whoopie pies, lemon cookies

Crust Bakehouse, Columbia 
Simple, freshly baked and always from scratch, the delectables that issue from this bakery’s ovens are creative and full-flavored. There’s also a focus on locally sourced ingredients for a true taste of the Midlands.
Treats to try: Bagel bombs filled with pimento cheese, orange blossom macarons, provolone-thyme scones

Henry’s Bread Kitchen, Blythewood 
One taste is all the evidence you’ll need to know that this is the stuff of an artisan bakery. The bread-craft here is as masterful as it is comforting. Bet you can’t walk out with just one loaf.
Treats to try: Swedish saffron bread, classic Southern sourdough, braided cinnamon bundt

Kaminsky’s, Columbia 
Kaminsky’s is the hub of dessert indulgence in the capital city, enticing guests with its comprehensive menu of scrumptious things to eat. Cakes, pies, cookies and more are made in-house daily. Specialty coffees set them off to delicious advantage.
Treats to try: Hummingbird cake, raspberry swirl cheesecake, coconut cream pie

Lita’s Treats, Columbia (two locations)
Family recipes and imaginative interpretations of classic desserts are the calling card of this operation. Designer cupcakes, cinnamon rolls, fudgy brownies and more keep the customers flocking to both locations.
Treats to try: Caramel macchiato cupcake, pecan pie cupcake, strawberry crunch cake

Main Street Bakery and Gift Shop, Columbia 
This small-batch, family-operated favorite is helping keep Columbia sweet. Using recipes that have been handed down through generations, the bakers here take personal pride in their pies, cakes and other tasty wares.
Treats to try: Sweet potato pie, strawberry shortcake (seasonal), Italian cream cake

Mesha’s Sinful Cakes and More, Columbia 
Sinfulness is in at this bakeshop and the naughtiness is evident in every bite. Since 2007, Mesha’s has been tickling the taste buds of patrons seeking to fulfill their most indulgent dessert fantasies. Enjoy it now, regret it (or not) later.
Treats to try: Peach cobbler cheesecake, blue velvet cake, chocolate chip and pecan cookies

Tiffany’s, Columbia 
Pastries, petit fours, cream puffs, oh my! Or maybe you just want a mind-blowing brownie. Choose your heart’s desire and discover that it’s all good.
Treats to try: Chocolate overdose cake, cinnamon rolls, cream puffs

Tres Leches Bakery, Columbia 
Mexican, Cuban, Columbian with American classics thrown in—that’s the taste adventure you’ll find when you visit this bakery. A variety of sweet breads (conchas, coronas), Cuban puff pastries (pastelitos), cookies, donuts, cinnamon rolls and other freshly made goodies fill the bakery case. Order your favorites and try something new, too.
Treats to try: Cheesecake flan, carrot cake, guava empanadas

Libby Wiersema
Libby Wiersema lived in California and Alabama before settling in South Carolina 30 years ago, where she's covered the state's best culinary offerings and tells the stories behind the food.