Three Women & amp;amp; Some Baked Goods

by Pia K. Hansen, Cara Gardner and Amy Sinisterra

The Davenport Hotel, 10 S. Post St. * 455-8888 - Since its renovation, the Davenport Hotel has been a breathtaking and much appreciated addition to Spokane's Downtown. Restored with much of its original artistic design, the local landmark can boast of marble, gold, decorative vases, carved wood and more. True to its original architecture, the Davenport's main lobby is expansive, with plush seating amid a grand piano, fireplace and lush fountain. The ambience is classy, clean, welcoming and luxurious. One can dine extravagantly, read in a lounge chair, visit, or take tea in the seating areas. The espresso stand is at the far end of the lobby, near the front desk. Pastries available there are made fresh every day by several specialized pastry chefs.

Cinnamon Roll ($2) -- I believe there is a special place reserved in heaven for those who bake great cinnamon rolls. It's not as easy as it sounds: A good cinnamon roll is not too bready, not too sweet, not too sticky and not too dry. The good news is that the Davenport's version comes very close to perfection. The bread is flaky and light, yet satisfying. Having one of these babies for breakfast will keep you full until lunch. The cinnamon filling is tasty, as is the classy white frosting -- and yes, I did have to lick my fingers along the way. This is an excellent cinnamon roll. - Pia

Coffee Cake ($2) -- "Sugar and spice and everything nice" is how I'd describe this treat. The Davenport's coffee cake is moist but not too gooey. Sandwiched between two layers of the cake is a mixture of walnuts, cinnamon and sugar in a buttery spread. The cake is topped off with the same mixture and finished with thin swirls of frosting which don't override the taste. It's really sweet, and the slice is good-sized, so be sure to have your craving honed. The best thing about this pastry is the Davenport's ambience. How can you not enjoy a classic coffee cake when it's sitting on bone china atop a marble table that's decorated with fresh flowers? Soft music floats overhead, and the quiet murmur of the Davenport's fountain rustles all around. - Cara

Apple Strudel ($2) -- This pastry is made in long sleeves and then cut into thin slices, revealing ample apple wrapped in a ribbon of thin pastry dough. At the Davenport, the presentation is exquisite, and therefore even this simple pastry is served on a piece of bone china. Each bite bursts with apple, perhaps spiked with raisins or even cherries. But no, on second thought, this item is all about apples: chunky, firm, flavorful, lightly sweet, dense and delicate. The pastry dough, although not as flaky as we might prefer, was heavy-duty. While doing its job of holding together the apple and raisin and spices, it asserted its own. - Amy

Pastry and More, Hwy. 95 and Haycraft, CdA * 208-667-3808 -

Former Coeur d'Alene Resort Pastry Chef Bill Steele opened Pastry and More back in 1993. Since then, it has become a coveted - if discreet - haven for the sweet-toothed and pastry-obsessed. Those who know the finer points about pastry making appreciate the detail with which Steele goes about his work. Pastry and More boasts an amazing display of pastries, cakes and other baked goods, including custom-made treats for a variety of occasions. A full espresso bar is primed, and the seating is well lit and clean. Parking is plentiful, which is nice - you may need a forklift to heave yourself home.

Napoleons ($3.95) -- All right, I'm hard to satisfy - especially when it comes to old-school European-style pastries. I grew up on the real thing, and I must admit I'm often disappointed. But not this time around. The Napoleon of Pastry and More achieves a perfect balance among its flaky layers, light and sweet creamy filling and tart raspberry jelly. What a delicious treat. Some Napoleons have rum added to the icing, which contrasts nicely with the sweetness, but even without that extra dimension, this pastry is amazing. If you close your eyes and pretend you're in Paris, this creamy treat will take you all the way there. Bon appetit. - Pia

Florentina ($1.95) -- When you need something indulgent, but can't possibly tackle those pastries that are the size of your head, the Florentina is perfect. So perfect, in fact, it's nice even just to look at. Eventually, though, the caramelized almond toffee shell, folded around rich butter cream, gets the better of you. Each end of this cigar-shaped treat is dipped in dark chocolate, and a dusting of powdered sugar rests on the top. Biting into the crisp outer shell and feeling the soft cream in the middle is luxurious. The sweetness of the almond toffee offsets the butter cream, which is perfectly whipped. The Florentina is such a delight that with a hot espresso and some time to enjoy a break, you might actually think you're in Italy.

Carrot Cake ($1.95) -- Deceptively small, this less-than-two-inch-square piece of carrot cake packs a punch. Made with real carrots (a rarity) and walnuts and cream cheese, this cake is more than a mere cake -- it's a meal. The texture is what impressed me the most. It's so chunky that you can actually see the different ingredients. And the flavor... wow! It suddenly tasted like fall: crisp evenings, crunchy leaves and spices like cinnamon and nutmeg in a warm kitchen. Each flavor stood out: nut, carrot and spice. You can tell that the cream cheese icing is the real thing because it has that certain tang, that thick creaminess and subtle sweetness. - Amy

Publication date: 10/02/03

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