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Baking at Altitude: Top Ski Spots for Pastries, Breads, & Treats

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A great bakery is as essential to a ski town as a killer pizza joint and grotty dive bar. Perhaps because high-altitude baking is an art, or maybe because it's cheaper and easier to ship product in, but most of the stuff passing for pastry more closely resembles a hockey puck or sink sponge. Happily, skilled bakers and pastry chefs recognize the niche, and a growing number of kick-ass patisseries and bakeries are popping up in ski towns across North America. Have a fav bakery we missed? Tell us all about it, as we will be debuting a larger list soon!

Les Madeleines, Salt Lake City: The hands-down favorite of SLC-area food industry peeps and ski bums alike, this unassuming café infuses classical French patisserie with Eastern flavors. From the exquisite Reine de Saba to esoteric deliciousness like cardamom cupcakes with rose syrup and pistachio buttercream, rosemary butter cookies, and delicate macarons in a dizzying array of flavors including passion fruit, jasmine, rose, and sesame, this place can turn even the most resolute dirtbag into a pinky-curling connoisseur.

Persephone, Jackson Hole: This downtown Jackson bakery pulls them in with killer breads made from wild yeasts, baked in a stone hearth. Other rustic-yet-refined favorites from French-trained local/owner/baker Kevin Cohane include caramel-apple pie, cinnamon brioche, croissants, and the Bee Sting, a honey-brown butter cake layered with caramel buttercream and slathered with honey-almond frosting. Drool.

Lucky's Bakehouse & Creamery, Boulder: Okay, okay, we know Boulder isn't quite a ski town, but it's the quintessential ski-commuter town and this place is too tasty not to include. A much-welcome addition to Boulder's previously grim baked goods scene, executive pastry chef Jen Bush kills it with an endlessly changing array of artery-clogging goodness. The salted caramel brownies, S'more cupcakes, and creamy goat cheese quiche are swoon-worthy, but the housemade ice cream made from local milk and other ingredients also rocks. Gluten-free pastry also available.

Annette's Mountain Bake Shop, Aspen: Just over two years ago, longtime Aspenites Annette and Serafino Docimo opened this cozy hole-in-the-wall on the Hyman Avenue Mall. There's been a line out the door ever since. Also listed in our list of the Best Aspen Cheap Eats, if you can resist overstuffing yourself on the ethereal macarons, shortbread, or doughnuts (Thursday afternoons only), order up the soup of the day or an honest-to-god bagel (boiled, natch). There's also the many tempting sandwiches (meatball, caponata, or the juicy porchetta with parsley pesto are but a few). You'll never fail to see Annette working the register, while Serafino tends to his stockpots in the back.

The Butcher & Baker Cafe, Telluride: Telluride was once a wasteland devoid of quality baked goods, until this sweet little space opened a few years back on the east end of Main Street (aka Colorado Ave.). If you're on the run, the masterful ham-and-cheese croissants (no easy feat, especially at nearly 9,000 feet) are the bomb, but there's also primo breakfast sammies and burritos, scones, gooey cookies, cakes, and a rotating menu of sandwiches, salads, soup, and prepared foods. Eat here every day. You're welcome.

Purebread, Whistler: BC skiers flock to this family-owned bakery spawned from a popular farmers market stall (there are now two brick-and-mortar locations, one in Function Junction, the other a pop-up stand). While the rustic breads are legendary, there's also housemade granola, scones, croissants, the famous coconut-banana loaf…even (gasp!) vegan and gluten-free treats. Wash it down with Portland's Stumptown Coffee and prepare to shred the slopes.
-By Laurel Miller

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