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Each week, KCUR's Creative Adventure newsletter brings you a new way to explore the Kansas City region.

From mochi donuts to empanadas, get a taste of Kansas City's unique bakeries

Blackhole Bakery
Emily Standlee
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KCUR 89.3
Along with flakey croissants and cinnamon rolls, Blackhole Bakery on Troost Avenue makes the only mochi donut in Kansas City.

Whether sweet or savory, these Kansas City bakeries have something special to satiate everyone's taste buds.

This story was first published in KCUR's Creative Adventure newsletter. You can sign up to receive stories like this in your inbox every Tuesday.

No matter your craving, Kansas Citians are lucky to have access to so many delicious innovative bakeries around town — from tiramisu to strawberry shortcake to those wild cupcake-cookie hybrids at McLain’s in Waldo.

Not only do these shops bake above and beyond, they also share with us family traditions and culture and make sure those delicious delicacies live on.

After all, even the greatest things in the world can be forgotten!

In 2001, a newspaper reporter in Chillicothe, Missouri, named Catherine Strotz Ripley came across this 1928 headline: “Sliced Bread is Made Here. Chillicothe Baking Co., the First Bakers in the World to Sell This Product to the Public.”

Sliced bread invented in Chillicothe? Ripley had never heard of such a thing, and she “couldn’t believe something with such great importance had been forgotten.”

It turned out to be true: The bread slicing machine now ubiquitous in bakeries was first invented by Otto Rohwedder and premiered at a Chillicothe bakery owned by Frank Bench. Since Ripley made her great discovery, Chillicothe has come to embrace its identity, throwing a Sliced Bread Day every July 7 — the date that the bread slicing machine made its grand debut.

You can hear the whole story of how Chillicothe became the one true home of sliced bread on the most recent episode of KCUR’s podcast A People’s History of Kansas City.

Listening to the podcast did get us hungry though. So in its honor, we compiled some of our favorite bakeries (and baked good-adjacent restaurants!) in Chillicothe and the Kansas City area, and the dishes we think they should be famous for.

The Parlor Bakery & Cafe

The Parlor Chillicothe
Devonn Ritchie
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Parlor Bakery & Cafe
In addition to baked goods and sweets, Parlor Bakery & Cafe in Chillicothe, Missouri, offers flavored croissants and a full lunch service.

Dustin Todd Rennells, owner of The Parlor Bakery & Cafe, has been baking since childhood with help from his mom, grandparents and aunt. The pastry pro — who recently competed in The Julia Child Challenge on Food Network — grew up in Chillicothe and was able to cook full dinners for his family by the age of eight.

“I started with an Easy-Bake Oven,” Rennells said, “but very little of the batter made it through to the other end. I’d take it out and eat a bite every minute or so to check doneness.”

Surrounded by sweet shops from day one — the nearest bakery was right down the block — Rennells began to see skill in the kitchen as a catalyst for success in life.

So it made sense for him to take over from Francine of Francine’s Pastry Parlor, the Chillicothe confectionery establishment of over 27 years. Last December, Rennells set up shop in the same location after Francine retired.

In addition to serving the tried-and-true pastries Francine’s is known for, Rennells puts his own spin on things, introducing flavored croissants and a full lunch service with daily salads, soups and sandwiches.

Oh, and The Parlor makes bread. If you were wondering.

Blackhole Bakery

Blackhole Bakery
Blackhole Bakery
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Blackhole Bakery on Troost Avenue specializes in classic French pastries that are "out of this world."

Fun fact: the folks at Blackhole Bakery are out of this world.

For one, we’re pretty sure the staff believes in aliens, since they market their sweet treats as “baked goods with another dimension.”

Secondly, pastry chef Jason Provo opened the bakery in the middle of a pandemic, and his creative success is a testament to that. Along with flakey croissants and cinnamon rolls, Blackhole makes the only mochi donut in Kansas City.

Mochi are stretchy flavor bombs made of glutinous rice, a gluey, sticky concoction. In Japan, the rice balls are sometimes dyed pink and wrapped in an edible, salted cherry blossom leaf in spring, or eaten around the New Year.

A lot of things get mochi’d at Blackhole Bakery — from raspberry rosé to coconut guava to whatever gets cooked up on the daily.

And this is a crew that thrives on collaboration — John Navarre of Blackhole told us that shopkeepers across the street and down the block have worked on pop-ups together in the past, and have ideas for the future.

Because everything at the retro-inspired shop is made from scratch, certain items tend to sell out. Get your spaceship to Troost to see for yourself.

Café Corazón

cafe corazon_credit_luis fidel cuevas.jpeg
Luis Fidel Cuevas
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Café Corazón
Café Corazón recently opened a second location on Southwest Boulevard in Kansas City.

If you live in Kansas City, you’ve probably driven east down Westport Road on the way to Southwest Trafficway and the highway. Yeesh. We suggest ignoring that intersection completely.

Instead, circle back. Find the lush, colorful mural on the side of a brick building and follow the coffee and yerba mate smells inside. Mission complete. You’ve stumbled upon Café Corazón, a café with heart and a huge dose of Latinx hospitality.

Descended from the Holly plant, yerba mate (pronounced yehr-buh maa-tay) is an herbal, caffeinated tea that’s been used medicinally and socially by Indigenous South Americans for centuries. At Café Corazón, it’s served the traditional way — in a gourd-shaped metal cup with a metal straw, or bombilla.

“Our focus on Latinx and Indigenous culture has created a safe space for POC,” says Miel Castagna-Herrera, who co-owns Café Corazón with partner Curtis Herrera. “It’s a place where many can connect to their cultures, while introducing the smells, colors and flavors of our childhoods to the wider KC community.”

While you're there, you can pick up one of Silvia Miguel’s legendary beef or veggie-filled empanadas or pastries. Miguel owns Pan Caliente, the bakery that provides Café Corazón with some of its delicacies. Don’t sleep on the alfajor Santa Fe, a stack of crispy cookies stuck together with dulce de leche.

And that’s not all — Castagna-Herrera and Herrera are spreading the love. They’ve recently opened a second location on Southwest Boulevard.

McLain's Bakery & Markets

McLain's
Emily Standlee
/
KCUR 89.3
Opened by the McLain family in 1945, the original McLain's Bakery located in Waldo quickly became a beloved neighborhood staple

Okay, okay. You don’t have to live in Waldo or Brookside to try those chocolate cupcookies from McLain's Bakery. There are cupcookies to be had all over town.

Opened by the McLain family in 1945, the original Waldo location quickly became a beloved neighborhood staple to all who walked beneath its black-lettered sign.

The bakery came under new ownership in 2014, when the Hirleman family decided to expand on McLain’s community-centric legacy. The success of the first iteration led to marketplaces in Overland Park, Shawnee and Lawrence, Kansas.

McLain's staff is hospitable and detail-oriented — even the coffee is custom-made using McLain’s own Sway Coffee Roasters beans. (Peep that market house syrup, made from a blend of vanilla, cinnamon and honey.)

And the bakery is a hub for special events. Along with four local breweries, the Shawnee marketplace is throwing a Battle of the (Local) Beers on July 15.

You’ll find classic McLain’s baked goods in many locations, plus all-day breakfast on Sundays and a ton of fresh salad options. Isn’t it nice when a cafe packs its lunch menu with more than just lettuce, tomatoes and cheese?

Bay Boy Specialty Sandwiches

BayBoy.PNG
Bay Boy Specialty Sandwiches
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Bay Boy started as a weekly pop-up but has since become a Kansas City institution.

As a bonus, we're including Bay Boy Specialty Sandwiches here, which has some of the best baked buns in town! If you haven’t tried a sando on their crackly Dutch Crunch bread, you're missing out. The combination of high-quality ingredients, surprising flavor combinations and that bread... oh, that bread.

Yes, we know you came here to learn about specialty bakeries — and we stand by our decision to include Bay Boy here. The shop bakes its own Dutch Crunch bread daily, and it's quite possibly the best specialty sandwich shop in town.

Bay Boy started as a weekly pop-up but has since become a KC institution. It recently extended its hours and is open Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., at its location in West Plaza.

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Emily Standlee is a freelance writer at KCUR and a national award-winning essayist.
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