12 Sweet Midwest Bakeries
Springfield, Illinois: Incredibly Delicious
The Incredibly Delicious Flourless Chocolate Cake Company opened as a mail-order business in 1995. Problem was, the phone never rang. "We had 1,000 pounds of chocolate and nothing to do," says owner-chef Patrick Groth, who studied French cooking before starting the business. "So we opened a one-room bakery and sold baguettes and chocolate cake. We were open for three days when we had such a line at noon that we decided we had to serve lunch."
Now, Patrick and family live above the bakery-cafe, which occupies the main floor of an 1845 Italianate mansion in Springfield's Aristocracy Hill, near Abraham Lincoln's home. The menu includes buttery chocolate croissants, sweet-tangy lemon tarts, locally sourced salads, sandwiches (including a showstopping Mediterranean melt), soups and breads.
But that decadent flourless cake remains the star. Rich with three kinds of imported French chocolate, it features a shiny ganache and a texture seemingly too light to be made of chocolate. And true to tradition, the helium-light layered red velvet cake no more than teases with the taste of chocolate.
In a town with its share of chain restaurants, the Delicious mansion is an oasis. Behind arched windows wait four distinct dining rooms, and greenery hides two outdoor areas. Somehow, life feels a bit slower here—and definitely richer (incrediblydelicious.com; 217/528-8548). - Kate Silver