BakeLab: a sweet spot for Asian-American pastries: Food & Drink: Smile Politely


I can’t say no to good pastries. BakeLab offers Asian American baked goods and is definitely one of my favorite bakeries in town for coffee and pastries. There is nothing better than a hot coffee with a good pastry.

This brother cafe of BrewLab, BakeLab is located in the lobby of the new Gather apartment building. There aren’t many cafes that open as early as BakeLab at 7 a.m. One of the best things I enjoy as a student is just having hot coffee and some pastries to start my day. Inside the cafe there are a lot of places where people can sit with friends, their loved one or just have some time for themselves.

The exterior of BakeLab on Lincoln Avenue in Urbana has a white sign with a heart and the name of the bakery.  The windows have an illuminated Photo by Xiaohui Zhang.
Inside BakeLab, it's a bit dark as customers line up to order at the counter.  Photo by Xiaohui Zhang.Photo by Xiaohui Zhang.

Personally, I don’t like overly sweet baked goods, but rather enjoy the original taste and texture of the way the dough comes out. The Asian-American style baked goods featured by BakeLab’s talented baker Dai Shi are definitely the kind of treats you can’t resist. All of their pastries are freshly baked and served daily.

Photo by Xiaohui Zhang.

Popular items include canelé, croissants, and rolls. Among them, croissants are always the best for me. You can get most of these treats for between $ 4 and $ 6, and a variety of seasonal coffees and drinks are also available. For the sake of variety, I tried seven different things and shared my experience here.

On a gray wooden counter, there is a croissant with strawberries and mascarpone on it.  Photo by Dai Shi. Photo by Dai Shi.

The first thing I tried was this strawberry mascarpone croissant for $ 5.75. It’s absolutely my favorite treat. The homemade strawberry jam filling and mascarpone filling provided the perfect blend of textures to savor the croissant. The strawberry filling was at a high level of sweetness which didn’t overwhelm the great taste of the light cream.

On a marble counter, there is a plain butter croissant next to a glass jar of oatmeal and a silver spoon.  Photo by Dai Shi.Photo by Dai Shi.

A variety of croissants are available at BakeLab. A hearty breakfast of a plain butter croissant ($ 4) and a cup of overnight oatmeal with fresh fruit toppings ($ 4.50) got me off to a good start. daytime. The croissant has a crispy texture on the outside but soft on the inside. Overnight oats were made with milk and a touch of honey. It made it creamy, but the fruit toppings gave me some freshness to enjoy it.

On a gray butcher's block counter, there is a Danish with apples.  Photo by Dai Shi.Photo by Dai Shi.

For the last croissant I tried, I chose a flat croissant: the Danish with apples ($ 5.25). I loved the crispy butter croissant. The apple slices and a little powdered sugar just met my expectation of sweetness. It was a good quality Danish which I immediately appreciated from the first bite.

In front of a brown paper bag with a label from the bakery, there is a soft bun sprinkled with powdered sugar.  Photo by Dai Shi.Photo by Dai Shi.

Besides the different kinds of croissants, brioches of different flavors are also my favorite. BakeLab features flavors of red bean paste matcha and cranberry cream cheese. I tried the one with cream cheese and cranberries ($ 5.25). The bun itself was soft and chewy to enjoy. The cranberry cream cheese filling eliminated the heaviness and gave a touch of sweet and sour flavor to manage the texture of the cream cheese. I really liked the dough on the bun.

In a paper drink holder there are two take-out plastic coffee cups held by the author's hand.  Photo by Xiaohui Zhang.Photo by Xiaohui Zhang.

Since this is not just a bakery but a partner cafe of BrewLab, I would definitely like to try a few drinks at the store cafe. I ordered the plain iced latte and the cold brew with a little cream added for $ 4 for each. The coffee was definitely made from good quality beans as I could smell the roast so obviously. The cold brew, on the other hand, was average, but it didn’t impress me too much. There are also plenty of other seasonal drink options like apple pie cider if you want to feel the vibes of fall.

There is still a wide variety of items that I haven’t had a chance to try, but I can’t wait to come back and try them again.

This place is definitely a gem for the city. Dai is such a talented pastry chef who strives to serve her customers with the best quality pastries. I have been there several times before this visit for the review, and the staff are always helpful and patient in presenting their products. Baristas are so awesome to adapt to different people’s coffee habits. Don’t hesitate to put BakeLab on your list for your next visit.

410 Lincoln Avenue North
T-Sun 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Top image by Dai Shi.


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