Editors' pick

The Cakery

$$$$ ($14 and under)
The Cakery photo
James A. Parcell/For The Post

Editorial Review

Don't be fooled by the bland surroundings. The Cakery is anything but.

Tucked in the rear of the Hilltop Plaza in Bowie, this small pastry shop bursts with the bright colors of its fresh fruit tarts ($4.25) and the burnished tops of its glazed French apple tarts ($2.95). Greg and Gail Sinkovic -- he's the baker, she handles the books -- have been turning out sweet treats at this same spot for nearly 10 years. "We're local people," said Gail, 44, a Bowie native.

Greg, 45, studied under former White House pastry chef Roland Mesnier at L'Academie de Cuisine, and his schooling in classical French desserts can be both seen and tasted. Start with a slice of hazelnut cake with ganache ($3.95). Moist, dense and nutty, it's generously layered with a light vanilla frosting and thick, creamy chocolate.

Another favorite: the subtly spiced squares of cream cheese-frosted carrot cake ($3.00). Greg is particularly proud -- and for good reason -- of his cinnamon rolls ($2.50). Crisp and flaky, they show off the all-butter croissant dough he makes from scratch. Not one to be wasteful, Greg uses leftover croissants for his croissant pudding (think bread pudding, only better, and only $2.00 a slice).

Many of the individual pastries are big enough for two. The Sinkovics both recommend stopping by on Saturday mornings, when the glass cases are at their fullest. On a recent Wednesday morning, business was slower than usual for a weekday. "Some of our customers have given up sweets for Lent," explained Gail.

But not Michael Rodriguez of Bowie, who stopped in with his 4-year-old daughter Jocelyn. He made a beeline for the fruit tarts, she for the chocolate chip cookies ($1.50). Like many in the neighborhood, Rodriguez is a familiar face here. "We made his wedding cake nine years ago," Gail said. "And now they make birthday cakes every year for my four children," Rodriguez added.

-- Matt McMillen (March 15, 2006)