Great Bakes: Intro

Whether it’s a product of the pandemic side gig hustle or the ultimate expression of our long love affair with carbs, Indy is experiencing a baking revolution. Rise up!

When I moved here from Mississippi in 2008, bakeries were few and far between—and don’t even get me started on coffee and pastry shops. Being a small-town Southerner, I had great expectations for the “big city.” My high hopes also came from the fact that had spent much of the ’90s and early 2000s as a pastry chef in a wonderful coffee shop and bakery, pumping out hundreds of croissants and other baked goods every day for a decade.

I knew of a few bakeries scattered in the far reaches of Indy but of nowhere to get a fresh croissant or a crusty loaf of sourdough within a short walk or drive from my house. It’s funny to look back and remember how desperately I searched for a warm baguette to slather with butter and jam and nom on while I sipped a double espresso. I missed the sound of the warm, fresh crusts crackling as the baker brought out loaves fresh from the oven to serve or put on display. That was the song of the angels.

Since those lean times, Indianapolis has become a haven for luscious, laminated pastries and crispy, crusty artisan breads. The baked goods scene has been on the rise over the last 15 years, with dessert and pastry shops and bakeries popping up here and there. Covid gave us a little kick in the hot buttered roll, but ingenuity won out, and home bakers were born all over the city. Many still run successful small businesses, and some even opened brick-and-mortar locations or created booming online businesses. It’s enough to make a pastry lover like me giddy with excitement. From bagels to babka, danishes to sourdough, canelé to cake, Indy’s baking scene proves itself the buzziest for oven-baked perfection.