From self-taught breadmakers to classically trained pastry chefs, the bakery options in Orange County are rising. Some of the county’s many fantastic artisans are using freshly milled heritage grains and wild yeast, while others are incorporating flavors from abroad. Lots of places are leading with diversity and inclusivity too, creating female-owned operations and inviting, all-encompassing atmospheres that aim to work for anyone and any occasion. Below you’ll find all-American cakes, a Japanese bakery known for its strawberry custard-stuffed croissants, Mexican panaderias, family-owned sourdough bakeries that supply the area’s hottest restaurants, and more. Orange County is flush with tasty little bakery nooks, including the 18 incredible options listed here.Read More
18 Awesome Orange County Bakeries to Try Right Now
From pastry professionals to home bread bakers, here’s who is making the good gluten stuff right now
Okayama Kobo Bakery & Cafe
Okayama Kobo is best known for its kawaii Kobo Kuma bear — vanilla bean custard and soft chocolate kitty emoji buns — stuffed with dark chocolate and custard. The sandwiches, paninis, and other pastries are handmade using flour from Hokkaido, Japan. Online orders are available but are limited to five items and must be placed a day in advance. Phone orders can be picked up on the same day.
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OC Baking Co.
Dean Kim has created a community around his bakery. During the pandemic, the company’s headquarters in Orange doubled as a makeshift market, with chefs from Adya, Sessions, Nok’s Kitchen, Cali Dumpling Co., and more setting up tables and selling dishes. Today those pop-ups are ongoing monthly. In the meantime, Kim has worked up a wholesale account list that includes many of the area’s biggest names, including Heritage Barbecue.
Katella Bakery, Deli & Restaurant
Since 1964, the Los Alamitos location of Katella Bakery has been known for serving no-frills classics, including a staple black and white cookie. The bakery’s recipes come from the original owner Sam Ratman, who opened Katella Bakery with his wife Shirley. Today, their children and a bakery crew keep up the tradition with a menu that includes lox with cream cheese on toasted bagels, cinnamon-dusted bagel chips, and whole loaves of pumpernickel and seedless rye bread. Buttery challah is braided through with raisins and sold alongside cases filled with New York-style cheesecake, danishes, and rugelach.
La Poblana Bakery
Since 1995, La Poblana Bakery has been a popular OC spot for authentic tamales filled with pork, pollo, queso, beef, pineapple, strawberry, and seasonal elote. While the menudo is also popular at the bakery, most people order the tamales along with an assortment of pan dulce. The chocolate conchas and the CD-sized rainbow sprinkle galleta are kid-friendly favorites.
The Crema Cafe
Crema Artisan Bakers in Seal Beach was founded by Tarit Tanjasiri in 2006. In 2012, Crema expanded with a wholesale location in Irvine. Disney dessert lovers might recognize its Pop-Tart-inspired hand pies, which are sold throughout the parks in Anaheim. At Artisan by 7 Leaves & Crema Bakery, you can taste most of the bakery items plus the croffle, a croissant-waffle hybrid served with vanilla cream, salted caramel, or jam.
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This Japanese American bakery in Old Town Tustin serves French-influenced pastries and breads. Cream Pan churns out fresh butter rolls, fluffy raisin loaves, multigrain boules, and epi baguettes, and people line up early in the morning for Cream Pan’s strawberry croissants. The setup is simple: fresh fruit and vanilla custard tucked in a flaky croissant — an OC favorite since 1988.
Tlaxcala Bakery Panaderia
Known for its handmade Mexican bread since 1998, Tlaxcala is one of the go-to panaderias in OC for conchas, tres leches cake, and pan dulce. There are two locations now — one in Santa Ana and the other in Anaheim. Though the conchas are popular — they sell mini versions too — the churros, cono de crema, pan para capirotada, and Rosca de Reyes (which is available once a year) are equally tempting.
Bread Artisan Bakery
The family-owned and operated bakery began with a father’s dream. After her father passed, Jonnie LoFranco carried on his passion and opened Bread Artisan Bakery in 2010 with Yannick Guegan, who apprenticed at a small bakery in Milizac, France. Now Bread Artisan Bakery supplies loaves for some of the most critically lauded restaurants in OC. It doesn’t have a brick-and-mortar storefront, but people can order online and pick up on weekends.
Hidden in the back of Heritage Plaza in Irvine, the family-owned bakery serves honey-sweetened flaky baklava and zoolbia — a crunchy Iranian dessert soaked in saffron and rose-flavored sugar syrup. Diners can also find fried bamieh — sticky Persian donuts — and popular cream puffs.
Hamada Ya Bakery
The easy-to-miss bakery is inside Mitsuwa Marketplace grocery stores and offers fresh baked goods daily. The loaf not to miss is the boloniya, which tastes like sliced croissant bread once toasted. The panko-crusted curry pan and sweet cream coronets filled with whipped cream are other takeaway items to try.
Rachel Klemeck’s Blackmarket Bakery revolutionized the offerings in Orange County when she opened in 2012 at The Camp in Costa Mesa. Klemeck demonstrated her baking prowess as a contestant on The Food Network “Sweets Showdown: Cake!” by taking homestyle flavors and incorporating surprising bursts of fruit. Start with the Blackstrap Betty molasses cookies with bits of dried apricot; chocolate raspberry dotted scones; and Basque batter tarts with citrus cream, berries, and almonds.
It’s hard to think of Moulin as simply a bakery. The restaurant footprint includes the snappy Bouillon, inspired by French blue collar brasseries from the late 1800s, and five Parisian-inspired cafes scattered from Costa Mesa to Dana Point. Though the crepes and croque madames are big draws, owner Laurent Vrignaud and his culinary team serve some of the best baguettes and Parisian-style pastries in Orange County. The delicately layered millefeuille and arguably the OC’s best rum baba are served at all locations, along with a simply delectable pear and almond sable tart.
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The Blessed Braid
One year during Rosh Hashanah, Cheryl Honig remembers eating a terrible piece of challah. She knew that she could bake better, so she opened the Blessed Braid in Irvine. As Honig predicted, the challah, which comes in traditional, sesame, poppy seed, marble chocolate chip, and raisin, has become extremely popular. Other Jewish sweets include kamishbroyt, a Yiddish Ukrainian fruit cookie.
An 18-year-old sourdough culture called Winona Ryeder helped head baker Sara Lezama launch her business, and the love of the craft just comes through in the baked goods. Today Rye Goods touts heritage milled grains and wild yeast, but don’t sleep on the savory brie and caramelized onion croissants or the bagels, which also come as sandwiches.
Scratch Bakery Cafe
This bakery churns out sweet delicatessen-style desserts. Think: chocolate-topped eclairs and carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. Doughs range from gluten-free to marble rye, and the popular roasted garlic asiago cheese bread is available Friday through Sunday.
61 Hundred Bread
In 2019, Karlo Evaristo started baking sourdough at home. Now his bread is used at Filipino brunch hotspot Breezy in San Juan Capistrano, where Evaristo’s loaves are sliced for French toast. While there isn’t a physical storefront, orders can be placed online. For Evaristo, the goal is to show that something simple as bread, done with passion, can be extraordinary and delicious. That’s evident when tasting his heirloom blue corn sourdough, sourdough chocolate babka, and sourdough braided challah, and newly added croissants.
FKN Bread is named after Dave and Bree VandenBerg’s three children: Finn, Kane, and Nash. Dave was born in San Juan Capistrano, and the family opened FKN Bread in downtown SJC and began growing a cult following with their long-fermented sourdough bread. The FKN dough recipe requires at least 16 hours to proof. At the shop, the sourdough is served as toasts covered in smashed avocado with lemon pepper or as sandwiches with deli meats.
Giana Bakery & Provisions
OC native chef Danielle Kuhn bakes her own sourdough at her Dana Point restaurant and bakery. The ovens are the heart of this operation, where the team serves kouign-amann and iced morning buns, plus seemingly simple toasts topped with ricotta, parmesan, wild mushrooms, and kale. Housemade bread with salted butter, buttermilk biscuits with honey, or house focaccia are always a good idea for starters.