Since it’s my last semester living in Cambridge, MA, I’ve made it my New Year’s resolution to try as many new (to me) bakeries and restaurants as I can. That’s easier said than done when you have places like Flour and Cafe Luna within walking distance, where you can rest assured your trek through the snow would be well worth the effort.
After enjoying a fabulous, Eastern Mediterranean influenced meal at Oleana last year, I learned that Oleana’s Executive Chef Ana Sortun also owns Sofra Bakery and Cafe. Hundreds of glowing Yelp reviews and pictures of their special weekend-only doughnuts later, I was ready to run to Sofra in the middle of the night. Sensibly, I waited until Saturday morning to head over. Their pastry case overflows with exotic and enticing cookies, tarts, and breads. After reading all of the signs, I wanted to try one of everything, but narrowed it down to eight sweet items and one savory for good measure.
The first item I tried was the morning bun, made from pieces of croissant dough held together by sugar and cinnamon and topped with an orange glaze. It was sweet, crisp, and buttery, but I preferred the bites without the glaze because it was so sweet.
Morning bun with orange glaze
The pistachio pop tart had a similarly sweet glaze, but luckily it was used more sparingly. The filling had hints of honey and rosewater.
Pistachio pop tart
The bostock was my favorite pastry of the morning, and combined buttery, eggy brioche dough with almond paste and hints of cinnamon. It had a surprising sweet-salty balance that kept me going back for more.
The brioche doughnut filled with tahini (sesame seed paste) brown butter cream and topped with a salted caramel ganache was not quite what I expected. I liked the dough and the ganache, but the tahini filling was not very sweet and had a savory quality that I found off-putting. There was a lot of filling in this doughnut, so it was impossible to eat around.
Tahini brown butter brioche donut with salted caramel ganache
I had better luck with the dukkah doughnut, which featured a sour cream cake doughnut as its base. The coconut, phyllo, and hazelnut crunch topping was sweet and slightly mysterious because of the dukkah spices.
Dukkah crunch sour cream donut
Sofra’s chocolate chunk cookie is an extremely well executed version of the traditional recipe. It’s crisp on the outside, soft on the inside, and filled with high-quality dark chocolate disks and notes of brown sugar.
Chocolate chunk cookie
I was excited to try the unique tahini shortbread, but I was overwhelmed by the potency of the tahini and could only manage one bite. If nothing else, I learned today that I’m okay with tahini in my savory food (like hummus!), but that I’d really prefer for it to stay out of my desserts.
Sofra is known for its earthquake cookie, which is an extra-chocolaty take on the familiar chocolate crinkle cookie topped with powdered sugar. It strikes the perfect balance between cookie, cake, and fudge in terms of texture and has just the right amount of intense chocolate and palate-pleasing sweetness.
Chocolate earthquake cookie
I couldn’t end my first visit to Sofra without trying one of their savory lunch options, so I opted for one of their cold meze spreads served with three of their sesame crick-cracks. I chose the squash skordalia spread topped with pepitas, and I was very happy with my decision. It reminded me of butternut squash soup in cold, light-as-air, spreadable form.
Squash skordalia spread topped with pepitas (left), crick-cracks (right)
I plan to go back soon to try more of their offerings, like the chocolate-hazelnut baklava, simits (Turkish bagels), chai-spiced coffee cake, and spinach falafel!