Sweet Spots

Gingerbread brownies? Mincemeat pie? An edible Yule log? You’ll find all kinds of holiday treats at these local bakeries.

Dining critic Joseph Hayes discovers that this pumpkin cheesecake from Raphsodic Cooperative Co. is just one of many tasty treats that local bakeries are whipping up for the holidays.

Photo by Tina Russell

Davis Bakery & Co.

Owners/bakers Alex and Chris Davis are Saturday morning fixtures at the Winter Park Farmers’ Market, but it’s at their Avalon Park location that their from-scratch cakes and pastries really shine. According to shop manager Megan Swain, the bakery has some special offerings for the holidays, including rich eggnog cake and a very jolly red velvet cake perked with peppermint frosting. I’m particularly fond of the Chocolate Bonfire, a classic butter-cream-frosted dark chocolate cake with a kick of cayenne pepper and cinnamon. Pick up some molasses and gingerbread cookies for Santa.

12001 Avalon Lake Drive, Orlando, 407-207-0205;

Raphsodic Cooperative Co.

It’s not often you find a bakery with a mission, but the quirky Raphsodic (a playful spelling of “rhapsody”) has managed to carve out a completely vegan, non-dairy, no-cholesterol niche. From the very bubbly owner, Katie Mosher, and her equally perky manager, Megan Boye, I learned that the focus is on fresh, local ingredients, so they are always baking new items. Fall and holiday treats include fresh pumpkin cheesecake, gingerbread brownies and a chocolate peppermint cake that is decadently moist without containing butter or eggs. With gluten- and soy-free options, even the allergic among us can find a tempting sweet.

710 N. Mills Ave., Orlando,

Charlie’s Gourmet Pastries

Although Charlie’s is known for cheesecake and tortes, the real treasures there are the pies. Opened in 1971 by Charlie Hawks, baker at the legendary Wolfie’s Deli in Miami Beach, it is now run by his son, Gary, who carries on a time-honored way of baking, so out of step with our fast food world that you’ll leave the shop pie in hand, blinking in the sun, as if you’d been transported from another time. Featured at Charlie’s are old-fashioned apple, pecan, pumpkin and mincemeat pies good enough to grace the table from Thanksgiving to National Pie Day (Jan. 23, if you didn’t know).

3213 Curry Ford Road, Orlando, 407-898-9561;

Sweet Traditions

Combine a baker from Paris and a display case that inspires drooling and you get a French bakery extraordinaire. Along with a café menu filled with sandwiches on good crusty baguettes, Stephane Crocher serves up Gallic magic with flour and butter in downtown Winter Garden. He creates hearty clafoutis (rustic, pancake-like pudding with fruit), classic layered Napoleons, and my favorite, the decadent “Desire” pastry, a combo of dark chocolate mousse and raspberry. Christmas brings the Bûche de Noël, a Yule log-shaped confection of rolled chiffon cake layered with chocolate butter cream and coffee, raspberry or orange Grand Marnier cream.

126 W. Plant St., Winter Garden, 407-656-6338;

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