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The Stratford Bakery Hunt

A look at four bakeries in town.

Autumn is looming, and 'tis the season for baked goods. Whether you need a place to grab a bite to eat before work or school, it's handy to know some local bakeries available for your convenience.

Week seven of the Hunt takes us right into four of Stratford's bakeries to highlight some local oven all-stars. 

Icing on the Cake Bakery -- 3641 Main St.

My first stop was Icing on the Cake Bakery, in business since 1987 and owned and operated by Brendan and Kim Cortina. This bakery uses recipes that have been passed down through generations, priding itself on “baking the old-fashioned way.”

I stared at the large selection of pastries, cookies and squares looking for the right treat when it was suggested to me that the lemon bar was a popular choice by customers.

An immediate heads-up: this gargantuan dessert is for lemon lovers only. The enormously tangy bite of the lemon would overpower if not for the contrasting elements which keep it in line. What you get is a sturdy raft of hard, resilient pastry sitting beneath a slimy swimming pool of glorious lemon merengue. If you dig in from the chocolatey top, it holds together just fine. I cannot emphasize the size of this bar enough for you, in both taste and weight. You might need a friend to help eat it.

All baking is done on the premises. Icing on the Cake is open seven days a week.

Donut Inc. -- 3690 Main St.

I went across the street to wash my lemon bar down with a donut.

Donut Inc., which has been on Main Street for the last 20 years, is definitely the spot to go if you’re looking for a quick breakfast on the way to work. The coffee, which hasn't changed since the business opened, does not disappoint.

The donut I ordered was a cruller, whose crispy exterior was washed over with a coconut glaze. This donut was literally sweating out coconut from the inside of its skin. There were strips of it, so that it looked like long pieces of confetti adorning its exterior. And like the lemon in the lemon bar that I tried, I am a believer that if not held in check the coconut would be too strong for this donut. That is where the glaze came in handy. If the glaze was not on top, I would not like this donut.

But it was.

And the inside was crumbly, but crumb-less. While it broke apart easily upon biting, I did not notice one single crumb land on my pants -- something you business-minded men and women should take note of. If you want a breakfast that won’t give you a stain and potentially wreck your morning proposal, this is your spot.

Donut Inc. is open from 5 a.m. - 10 p.m. seven days a week, 365 days a year, ensuring that even when blizzard season rolls around again you will be able to find a hot cup of coffee here.

“Santa Claus comes here every winter,” joked employee Bob Skrutsky.  “Donner was here for every blizzard year.”

Donut Inc. was purchased by owner Jason Wojnarowski about six weeks ago. Renovations are planned.

Ambrosia Bakery -- 2875 Main St.

After all of that lemon and coconut, I needed something different -- something more balanced. I stopped into Ambrosia Bakery for something soothing that wouldn’t be quite so abrasive to my overworked taste buds. I looked to the cookie.

What I liked about this black and white cookie was its soft consistency. Most black and white cookies are characterized by their crispiness. But this cookie was different. It felt, in fact, much more like a cupcake to me as I bit into both sides at the same time. This malleable arrangement of dough and glaze was not too sweet, making it the whole experience of eating it very easy for me.

Ambrosia offers, in addition to black and white cookies, a plethora of cakes, pastries and coffee. They also serve quiche and stuffed breads -- namely, eggplant, broccoli, spinach and sausage. Ambrosia is open Monday through Saturday from 6 a.m. - 8 p.m. and Sunday from 6 a.m. - 6 p.m. They are open on holidays.

Ambrosia also specializes in making wedding cakes. Ordering ahead is accepted at this bakery.

Doughnut Inn -- 2505 Main St.

I needed another donut to contrast that flamboyant coconut donut which was roaring in my memory. While it was a fantastic donut, I needed to be grounded. So I walked into the Doughnut Inn for one last baked good to satisfy me for the day.

The apple donut I ordered was like putting on a warm sweater.

Its dough hugged me tightly. This donut offers both you and the apple filling the protection you covet on your way to work. Most donuts are so laden with jam that it gushes out the sides upon touching it. But this donut was durable.

I am pleased to announce that not one morsel of goo escaped on my hands while consuming this donut. And what I liked best about it were the chunks of apple interspersed in the goo, offering a nice crunch in the midst of all of the mush.

In addition to doughnuts, the Inn had a wide coffee selection -- hazelnut, decaf hazelnut, Irish Cream, French Vanilla and Carmel Nut Biscotti were all offered, as well as tea. Coffee can also be purchased by the bag here. And best of all, breakfast sandwiches are available all day.

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