Looking for the most buttery bakeries in Florence?
Buttery may not be the accurate term since many Tuscan baked goods are made with either no butter (i.e. pane toscano, cantuccini biscotti, etc) with olive oil, shortening or plain old fashioned lard (strutto) or a combo of one of these with butter, but for all intents and purposes, these are the bakeries where you can get the holy trinity of fat carbs and sugar. Italians and Tuscans especially take great pride in baked goods, especially breads which have hundreds of years attached in every crumble and every morsel of that “buttery” simple carbohydrate bite.
It is possible to find yourself in a conundrum of where to find the best baked goods in Florence as albeit the tiny size, the city is brimming with bakery shops at every corner and in between. Save yourself the hassle with this little guide. I took it as my duty to taste and carb load for this reason precisely: to consult travelers to Florence on where to get the finest, most artisan, true to tradition baked good in the historical center.
Extremely Tuscan Baked Goods of note:
La Schiacciata – literally meaning “squashed”, this flat bread, what you could consider the Tuscan focaccia, is what carb dreams are made of. It is the only bread with flavor you will find in Tuscany. Why? Most bread otherwise is made without salt or oil for historical reasons. La Schiacciata instead is a oily, salty, warm piece of heaven.
Schiacciata all’uva- “Squashed” bread made sweet with wine grapes. Made mostly during the wine harvest period.
Coccoli- Sounding like the word for “cuddles” in Italian (coccole), these little fritters are fried doughballs that heaven sent down for us gluttonous folk. Not only is this bread enjoyed as a fried food thus decadent on its own, traditionally it is stuffed with stracchino (a fresh, cream cheese) and Tuscan ham as a sort of local appetizer or snack. Perfect with young, fruity light Chianti wine. Who am I kidding: good with wine. Period.
Cantuccini- Meaning “little corners”, these are tiny biscotti made simply with flour, eggs, sugar and almonds. Very simple to make and deliciously paired (or rather dunked) with local dessert wine “Vin Santo.” Try it!
Fedora- A sponge cake with a thick layer of whipped cream and a thin layer of dark chocolate. There is usually orange essence in the extremely moist sponge cake.
Torta di Semolino- This is a cake made with a a shortbread crust, a layer of semolino which is a sort of flour paste mixed with milk, sugar, eggs and sometimes dessert wine then topped with thick dark chocolate.
Budino di Riso– A rice pudding then filled into a short bread crust and baked, then topped with sugar
Sfogliatine- For sure a buttery bit, this is a puff pastry “pocket” sometimes filled with cream custard and if made right, the sugar and butter have a slight caramelized crisp at the ends of the pastry.
An additional note about schiacciata: traditionally this was a sort of “merenda” snack for school children where it was sprinkled with sugar, sometimes dipped in just a wee bit of wine. Nowadays, children are eating prepackaged, processed carb-rich snacks filled with trans-fats which is slightly concerning. I would much rather feed my child natural products like fresh baked bread. Embrace your inner Tuscan child with an old school merenda of sugared schiacciata with or without the wine. Worried about giving alcohol to your child? Talk to almost any Italian and they will say as children, they grew up with watered down wine at the table in very small quantities. Compare that to American table culture where we shun the stuff until the arbitrary age of 21. Now observe the relationships with alcohol across these two cultures. I am not suggesting we booze up children, it’s simply interesting to observe these traditions.
- Focacceria Pugi- Have you ever heard that the best places to eat are where taxi drivers go? So, I asked a taxi driver where to get the best schiacciata and he said Pugi. It is a sort of chain but I have to agree, their schiacciata is pretty consistent and if a local approves, then so do I. The great part about Pugi is that if I am ever in a bind for a snack in the historical center, I can pop over to Piazza San Marco where there is a Pugi shop for a cheap, satisfying “squashed” slice of bread. Pugi has been a Florentine baking institution since 1925 Focacceria Pugi (Various Locations in Florence) Address: Piazza San Marco, 9 B, 50121 Firenze, Italy
- Panificio Chicco di Grano- Located in the front right corner (from main entrance) of the wonderful Sant’Ambrogio Market is a sort of bakery/tavola calda that specializes in pastas (both fresh to take home and already made to eat as a sort of quick lunch), baked breads/goods, fried snacks like polenta and desserts like cakes and pastries. It often gets overlooked because of its position in the market, but it is worth a visit. Mercato Sant’Ambrogio Florence, Italy
- Pasticceria Cosi- Located at the beginning of the boutique shoppers drag leading up to Piazza della Repubblica, is a delicious pastry stop with an extensive case of dangerously good baked sweets like tarts, cannoli, mini pies, Florentine cakes, croissants, “bomboloni” which are the equivalent of Italian doughnuts sometimes filled with chocolate or custard and more. They offer more wholesome options like pastries made with spelt or kamut flour. The coffee here is exact and strong. It is rare to find both pastry shop and coffee shop that is doing excellent on both fronts. I know it’s Italy but I have had some rubbish coffee and rubbery sfogliatelle! Although sfogliatelle (a shell shaped pastry with many leafy layers) is traditionally from Campania (the region of Naples), you can find some legitimate sfogliatelle also in Florence. Pasticceria Patrizio Cosi Address: Piazza Gaetano Salvemini, 15, 50122 Firenze, Italy
Phone:+39 055 248 0367
- Cantinetta di Verrazzano- My philosophy when making recommendations for food tries to focus on the small guys, the little shops off the beaten path. Once in a while, a big guy makes their way on the list but I assure you for good reason. Castello di Verrazzano is a (somewhat commercial) wine producer in Greve in Chianti and they have their hands in a few honey pots in terms of Tuscan food and wine products. In the center of Florence, on one of those little hidden streets in between Piazza della Signoria and the Duomo is a wine bar/restaurant/coffee shop/pastry case that will woo your senses as soon as you walk in. The restaurant is a bit of a tourist trap in my opinion, however it is undeniably good to get a coffee and a pastry at the coffee bar. Another plus is that it is very centrally located so if you are in a bind for a good coffee and a small sugar nugget, Cantinetta dei Verrazzano is your go-to. They have an impressive selection and carefully merchandised display of biscotti, rustic breads, chestnut flour cakes, pizzas and more. A favoring plus is that since they are in the business of wine and Tuscan products, they utilize the local olive oils, flours and wines from their operations and do implement the use of naturally leavened and risen baked goods. Cantinetta dei Verrazzano Address: Via dei Tavolini, 18/r, 50122 Firenze, Italy Phone:+39 055 268590 http://www.verrazzano.com/en/the-place/
- Pasticceria Nencioni- Love this family-owned bakery and coffee bar! In my opinion, they have some of the best budino di riso and sfogliatine in town. Their coffee is done rather well which is hard to find in Florence- i.e. good coffee and baked goods made on-site. They have small pastry bites and mignons in case you want to just have a light bite rather than a massive pastry. There is a little seating area in the back too in case you prefer not to take your coffee and pastry fast and furiously at the bar. Address: Via Pietra Piana, 24 Florence
- For more tips on Bakeries in Florence and other Carb Heavens, visit this post I did on Caffe Neri off of Ponte Vecchio (whose award-winning schiacciata alla fiorentina by Simone Bellesi can be found) and Where to get the Best Panini in Florence including my tried-and-true favorite Semel.
In Florence? I’d love to help you carb-load at even more places- just drop me a line for more info regarding food tours in Florence.
In your love for butter and carbs,
More news! The Curious Appetite has been nominated Best Food Blog by Italy Magazine! Are you a fan? Please vote for The Curious Appetite here: http://www.italymagazine.com/blog-awards/2014?field_blog_category_tid=44499 Grazie Mille!
This post is apart of the monthly blogger event Italian Food and Wine Travel. Want to learn more about Tuscany? You can join us all day live on twitter Saturday February 7th at #ItalianFWT
Here are our featured articles this month on Tuscany:
Vino Travels – The clones and wines of sangiovese in Tuscany
Cooking Chat – Tuscan beef stew and wine pairing
Food Wine Click – In Tuscany, red wine pairs with fish
Curious Appetite – Tuscan baked goods and secret bakeries in Florence
Flavourful Tuscany – Tuscany: The cult of wines and the dining pleasure
Enofylz – A Taste of the Tuscany coast
Rockin Red Blog – Travel to Tuscany without leaving home with #ItalianFWT
Girls Gotta Drink – What is up with the Chianti Classico Black Rooster?
Italophilia – Castello di Poppiano
Orna O’Reilly – Five days on Elba