In the wee small hours of the morning, while most are still sleeping, a handful of dedicated Winston-Salem artists are already up to their elbows in a sugary cloud of flour. One by one, these meticulous artisans stretch and pull giant sheets of gloriously smooth dough, squeeze shiny drops of buttercream onto a rainbow of macarons, and dot and slice and pinch and proof and sprinkle.
They do it not because there’s a rush of hungry fans soon headed their way, which there undoubtedly is. They do it because in Winston-Salem, baking is more than business, or a calling, or even a gift. Here, baking is an art form.
Meet three of these artists now.
The Newcomer: Bobby Boy Bakeshop
What it is: a charming, Instagram-worthy grab-and-go bakery complete with swanky honeycomb tiles, black-and-white specials board, and more options than you have taste buds
Who they are: a pair of high-powered, classically trained Cordon Bleu pastry chefs with an international pedigree, husband-and-wife duo Lucia and John Bobby left the glamour (and grind) of five-star restaurant cuisine behind to launch a neighborhood bakery. The result is a posh hangout that allows them to feed their passion and still spend time with their two sons, thus the namesake Bobby boys
When to pop in: whenever hunger strikes (or your mood needs lifting). Lucia’s artistry includes decorative chocolate-transfer masterpieces that are arguably too gorgeous to eat. Pro Tip: just snap a picture or two and eat the dang thing. John’s background as a chef means you’ll always find a few savory options amid the sugar-packed display case. The daily sandwich is a particular inspiration.
Why you’ll be back: The sheer delight of that endless display case. The coffee, the vibe, the revolving menu that never forgets a favorite, the white on white on white. The weight of the pastry in your hand. That first bite.
Oh – did we mention the adjoined wine bar?
The Baker Next Door: Humble Bee Bakery
What it is: a small but mighty downtown bakery with a flair for the delicious. Think quiet side street, unassuming glass door, and wildly imaginative flavor combinations. It’s Willy Wonka meets Alice in Wonderland, with easier parking.
Who they are: a plucky young shop led by chief baker and self-taught marvel Brittany McGee, who launched this storefront as an offshoot of her lifelong dedication to creative “baking with intention.” It takes a lot of moxy to make a Fruity Pebbles flavored macaron, and even more to sell out of them darn near every day. And the red wine brownie? A must-taste when in Winston-Salem. And for all you devout cookie connoisseurs, flavor varieties include lemon ginger cardamom, salted chocolate chunk, and Horchata (cinnamon and white chocolate) just to name a few.
*When to pop in: After lunch at Mozelle’s, or any local eatery right around the corner, or anytime you find yourself in Winston-Salem’s trendy Historic West End. Like any magical wonderland, Humble Bee is only open a few days a week during lunch and dinner. Fortunately, those days are Thursday through Sunday, when most of us treat lovers are looking for our sweet fix.
Why you’ll be back: The one-to-one connection with everything in this humble shop(pe). From the intimate space to the thoughtful attention to special dietary needs (gluten-free, vegan, nut-free), Humble Bee delivers more than a sultry mouthful of sugary love. It bakes with its heart on its sleeve, and its soul on your plate. Yum.
The Mother-Daughter Team: Lavender & Honey Kitchen
What it is: a newly-opened retail bakery featuring unbelievably lush, European-inspired desserts, cookies, pastries, and cakes crafted from locally sourced North Carolina ingredients and worthy of a Saveur magazine cover shoot
Who they are: an unexpected mother-daughter baking team that restyles and reimagines the most cherished heirloom recipes from their Amish and Mennonite roots. The pair shares a dedication to artistic food photography, seasonal cooking, and long table gatherings.
When to pop in: Still a mainstay of the Cobblestone Farmers Market on Saturday mornings, Lavender & Honey’s freshly baked goods can now be devoured five days a week at its brick-and-mortar location in Winston-Salem’s historic West End neighborhood. Indulge in a sweet or savory treat before exploring the eclectic shops along West End Boulevard.
Why you’ll be back: To eat, share, and learn stories like this one, reprinted from a profile of Lavender & Honey in the national food magazine Where Women Cook: “I learned about the importance of tradition while rumbling across gravel roads in a 1972 Chevy station wagon with my father. Every week we made the trip to a stark, white farmhouse nestled between tall pines in Holmes County, Ohio for a pan of freshly baked cinnamon rolls. The smell of kerosene lanterns and wood smoke met us at the kitchen door as Mary, the Amish widow who operated the bustling bakery in her home, came to greet us, a smile stretched across rosy cheeks. We would lean against the counter, chatting pleasantly in the Pennsylvania Dutch dialect of the Amish and Mennonites while nibbling on rolls, straight from the oven, their brown sugar frosting finding its way down our fingers and onto our chin.”