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Best new bakery

Loba Pastry + Coffee

Val Taylor with pastries
Photo: Jeff Marini

Val Taylor took over the storefront of her former employer, the beloved Bad Wolf Coffee, and made a bakery all her own, drawing on her Mexican heritage to punch up the flavors of basic pastries in completely novel ways. Below are six of our favorites.

3422 N. Lincoln Ave., lobapastry.com

 

1 Black sesame bun:“I make my black sesame paste with a little bit of brown sugar,” says Taylor, “so that when it bakes, it caramelizes.”

2 Danish:“The Danish has been so overplayed. A lot of people think of that Jell-O consistency, very mass-produced, but it can be rich and flaky with real fruit.”

3 Cajeta canelé:“I make cajeta [a goat’s milk caramel] the way my grandma did: To make it good, you purposefully burn it. The cajeta’s a little toasty, and the canelé has that chewy crust.”

4 Lemon, poppy seed, and coriander muffin:“Everyone knows lemon–poppy seed, so to amp up the flavor, I added coriander. It’s floral, fruity, and pairs well with lemon.”

5 Fennel twist:“Despite being a pastry chef, I’m not a big fan of sweets. This isn’t overpoweringly sweet but is packed with flavor.”

6 Pepita crunch bar:“That’s roughly inspired by a florentine cookie and also by palanqueta, a nut bar that’s bound together with caramelized sugar. It was one of my mom’s favorite candies to buy. Lots of chewiness and crunch.”

Celebrate this year’s winners at our annual Best of Chicago event on August 11. Get tickets here.

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