The baked goods that've gotten the most attention in recent years are undoubtedly cupcakes and cronuts. Bakeshop RareSweets, opening in CityCenterDC on Dec. 15, vows never to have either of those things.
“We will not have cupcakes because we are trying to bring back the idea of eating a piece of cake,” says owner and pastry chef Meredith Tomason.
Cake is the new cake?
“That is my dream,” Tomason says. “It sounds so ridiculous, but it’s true.”
There will be no hybrid pastries either. “What we’re trying to do is bring back old American standby baked goods but present them in a way that people haven’t seen in a while.”
RareSweets will sell various cookies and bars, but the focus will be mainly on layer cakes and ice cream. While you'll find chocolate and vanilla, Tomason wants to focus on season flavors. “You don’t really see that in a lot of bakeries," she says.
The bakery will feature up to six flavors of ice cream a day, including sour cream sorghum and oatmeal raisin, plus up to eight types of cake like gingerbread-lemon, coconut, and beet red velvet. The place will also serve La Colombe coffee and occasional savory items like toad-in-the-hole for breakfast.
Tomason describes herself as a “quarter-life crisis person.” Before becoming a pastry chef, she was a playwright in New York City. But she didn’t love it. When her grandma, who gave her a love of baking, passed away, Tomason used her inheritance to help pay her way through pastry school. “I’ve always been told you have to do what you love. And I really love doing this,” she says. She went on to work at New York’s Magnolia Bakery, Tribeca Treats, and Craft.
Tomason knew she wanted to open a bake shop of her own after a family friend gifted her a copy of the Fannie Farmer Boston Cooking School Cookbook from 1923. “It had dog-eared pages and wine stains,” Tomason says. “I feel like I was handed somebody’s family history…I liked the idea of taking someone’s family history and putting it into a bakery.”
Many of the recipes at RareSweets are based off old cookbooks and her own family recipes. For example, sugar cookies come from that Fannie Farmer book. And she’s also paying respect to her grandma in the form of her cocoa crinkle cookies.
Photo by Scott Suchman