While there is definitely no shortage of cupcakes and cookies in Oklahoma, many citizens have turned to tempting their palates with something a little more global. With more and more ethnic bakeries setting up shop across the state, diners in search of something more exotic are the getting the opportunity to travel– by taste.
A handful of these eateries have been staples for years, but have seen a surge in popularity with the rise of food culture and television. Ingrid’s Kitchen in Oklahoma City, for example, has long been known to locals as the hot spot for scrumptious German breads and desserts and an impressive brunch buffet. But since the Food Network show Diners, Drive-ins and Dives featured Ingrid’s, foodies from around the nation – and even sometimes the world, according to manager Maggie Miner – come there to experience authentic German cuisine.
Miner shares the passion of locals and travelers alike for the bakery’s wide array of wares. “The bakers still hand-make our bagels, and boil and bake them,” Miner says. “Our Danishes are a real treat in the morning. Then there are our popular thumbprint cookies. I think our brownies are to die for, and the streusel squares are delicious with all that cream cheese.”
Not far away, although perhaps a better-kept secret to Food Network viewers, is Super Cao Nguyen, Oklahoma City’s largest Asian supermarket. Many customers here never make it past the bakery case in the front entrance, where one is hard-pressed to choose between delicacies like the pork meat bun and handmade coconut waffles stuffed with sweet sticky rice. And if your stomach isn’t happily waylaid in the entry, you can have seconds at another bakery and restaurant just inside. Offerings include traditional Vietnamese treats like sesame balls and meat pie stuffed with pork and onions, as well as such French-inspired baked goods as croissants and baguettes.
Some members of Oklahoma’s growing Hispanic population have carried the tastes of their former homeland to the new. Originally located in Sahuayo in the state of Michoacan, Mexico, Pancho Anaya bakery has been serving Tulsans for 15 years.
“In my opinion, Pancho Anaya is one-of-a-kind due to our four generations experience,” says Sigrid Katia Anaya, human resources director for the bakery’s operations. “When you come into our bakeries, you become a part of the Pancho Anaya four-generation family tradition.”
Traditional offerings at Pancho Anaya include bolillo, the Mexican white bread used for tortas and desserts; conchas, Mexican sweet bread covered in a chocolate- or vanilla-flavored paste (and the bakery’s most sought-after item, Anaya says); and tres leches cake, made with three different kinds of milk and with a variety of flavors and fillings.
Newer on the scene is Oklahoma City’s La Oaxaqueña. Co-owner Ramiro Padilla says the bakery is set apart from others not only by the 50 varieties of bread and pastries– including baked empanadas with fillings like pineapple and cream cheese– but because at virtually any time of day, something fresh is available.
“We bake bread all day,” he says. “Come at 6 a.m. – we are baking. Come at 6 p.m. – we are still baking. Any time you come, you will always find something coming out of the oven.”
If you’re weary of seeing a cupcake shop on every corner and are craving something off the beaten culinary path, scores of ethnic bakeries throughout Oklahoma will be happy to oblige your appetite with something fresh and authentic.