Border Cantos is a timely, new and free exhibit now on view at Crystal Bridges.
When you’ve been doing something for 65 years, there’s a good chance you’ve become pretty decent at whatever it is you are doing. By that token, you might imagine that Community Bakery, which established itself in 1947, knows how to ice a few cakes and fry a couple donuts. Since my relatively recent arrival in Little Rock, there is a fairly common response when I’ve asked around for the best spots for an early morning carbo load, and Community Bakery seems to almost always be these people’s short list.
The quaint, comfortable interior of the charming historic downtown location only makes a trip to this Little Rock landmark that much more enjoyable. It is darn near impossible to leave this place unhappy. Cookies, tarts, donuts, cakes, and pies all fill the gleaming display cases, and peering in…it’s like looking through the windows of heaven and beholding paradise. You can almost convince yourself that you hear angels playing harps and singing sweet praises as you childishly, sheepishly survey the seemingly endless options. Then you realize you are actually expected to decide what to order…you don’t have all the time in the world, and ordering “one of everything,” while initially temping, is probably not an entirely wise decision.
As I typically try to uncover the unique items that make a bakery special, there are a few items that deserve special recognition.
First, the “beignets.” When I first laid eyes on the fist-sized pockets of flour and sugar, I was not exactly sure what they were. I was told they were “New Orleans-style beignets.” Hmm…not like any beignet I’ve ever had in New Orleans, but I was curious and partook. Glad I did too, the beignet was glorious. More akin to an airy, glazed éclair, with a chewy, soft inside and crisp, sugary exterior, I was almost instantly in love. The dough had the lovely eggy flavor one might find in a French cruller, and the outside was filled with small cracks and pockets that seeped sweet translucent melted sugar. I don’t care if it’s New Orleans-style or not, it’s exceptional.
Next, I’ve been told it is a minor crime in this state to eat breakfast here without ordering a sausage roll. So, not wanting to tarnish my squeaky-clean permanent record, I went ahead and did my civil duty and ate one (or three). It’s definitely rich, definitely not health food, but definitely tasty. Ground pork sausage and cheese fill a small pocket of soft, buttery bread…a simple concoction, but satisfying. You may feel a little like you just got socked in the belly by the Bread Bully afterwards, but it’s a minor cost for such a pleasurable morsel.
The apple turnovers should not be missed either and are an especially great way to squeeze in those extra daily servings of fruit (‘cuz I totally believe in a balanced diet). Many other breakfast standards are offered for your enjoyment. It’s hard to go wrong, but if you are too bleary-eyed and befuddled from any number of egregious acts performed the night before, just start pointing fingers towards the display cases and filled baskets randomly, you’ll be fine, I promise.