Two Little Red Hens
When we nibble on bakery goods and exclaim "Who made this?!", odds are the answer is Two Little Red Hens. New York's best cheesecake; a tender-crumbed coffee cake; plush, raisin-studded cinnamon buns; chocolate-banana cream pie; their infamous Brooklyn Blackout cupcake, just about as fudge-y as it can be without dissolving into a heap of pure chocolate—we could keep going, but you probably get the idea. We've never had a crumb here we didn't love.
Black Hound Bakery
It's the cakes we come back for at this East Village bakery, whether hazelnut-praline with a chocolate buttercream, this lovely strawberry-chocolate Daisy Cake, carrot cake, or any other. That so many of these treats come sized for one is just the icing on the cake. (Any of their lacy-edged or pastry-based cookies are a good bet, too.)
Lulu Cake Boutique
We expected this Chelsea newcomer to turn out fine cakes (as they do), but the surprise was just how good their other baked goods are: a crumbly, streusel-y apple muffin, housemade yodels, and totally irresistible Twinkies in yellow, chocolate, and red velvet.
Yura on Madison
Some kind of magic goes on at Yura; no matter how many things we try here, new ones still manage to surpass our expectations. We love the intensely flavored bundt cakes, tender-crumbed and gently crusted, and the appealingly homey chocolate chip cookies, which a blind taster once called "precisely what a cookie should be." For a more sizable dessert, consider the angel food cakes, or the cobblers and crisps. But if you're only ordering one thing, make it the pie: we're of the opinion that hers are the best in Manhattan.
While Thomas Keller's bakery does its share of croissants and the like, it's their other treats we fall in love with, again and again: a chocolate-cherry bread we dream of, a hazelnut-yuzu cream puff, butter cookies with yogurt glaze, and some of the best jelly doughnuts in Manhattan—just to name a very few. Luckily, there are now two New York locations to get our fix at.
There aren't many bakeries that would get us out to Red Hook so often, but we'll gladly make the trip for Baked's sweet and salty brownies, their superb chocolate chip cookies, and the best cupcakes in New York.
At Ed Levine's favorite neighborhood bakery, don't miss the Concord, chocolate meringue slathered in chocolate mousse; muffins of all kinds; birthday cakes "that don't suck"; or the cheese danishes.
Their carrot cake is our favorite in New York; their cupcakes are well-done classics; their other treats are equal parts interesting and satisfying, like crunchy lime-cornmeal cookies, butterscotch cashew bars, and chocolate pecan chubbies. With cheery, simple storefronts, they're pretty much the ideal neighborhood bakery—and, even better, in more than one Manhattan neighborhood.
Nutty, crumbly peanut butter cookies, excellent tarts, and blueberry-corn muffins have us at City Bakery on a regular basis; but if we had to pick one baked good out of them all, it'd be the flaky-salty pretzel croissant. And while it's not really a bakery good, their liquid-fudge hot chocolate certainly counts a few points in their favor.
Duane Park Patisserie
Though it's not one of New York's most talked-about bakeries, there are many sweets at Duane Park we hold in high esteem: some of Ed's favorite apple and cherry turnovers, a robust, sticky ginger spice cake, and, though we're getting into more traditional patisserie territory here, Kathy's favorite chocolate eclair in the city.
Duane Park Patisserie: 179 Duane Street, New York NY 10013 (map), 212-274-8447