Terrific bakeries do abound in our area - you just have to find them. One of our favorite go-to's is Grateful Bread, on the scene now for 22 years.
We dropped by the other day to check out its "Holiday Features" of eight seasonal goodies ($4.50 to $15.75): Black Forest bread (chocolate and cherries), Italian pannetone (golden raisins and citron), Swedish rye limpa (orange rind and anise seed), German Christmas stollen (raisins, almonds, hazelnuts and citrus peel) and fruitcake (only 100 brandy-fed cakes were made, beginning in August; they contain no nuts or candied fruit).
Coming Dec. 20 will be alpine lemon bread, a puckery treat with a loyal following. Also: Choose a bread and master baker-owner Joe Artim will shape it into bears, wreathes and Christmas trees (by special order only).
There's one more holiday bread to mention, something new to us. Fragrant orange stollen
We returned for two more light-as-air loaves, much of which was turned into crispy French toast. In a word: Yum!
"The recipe came from a seminar on enriched dough held in 2005 at the San Francisco Baking Institute," Artim recalled. "The chef (who demonstrated it) was from the Culinary Institute of America in St. Helena in the Napa Valley. We played with (the recipe) a little bit and tweaked it for our needs."
Grateful Bread in Loehmann's Plaza, 2543 Fair Oaks Blvd., Sacramento; (916) 487-9179. Open 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays.