Aussie-born pastry chef Naomi Stepanek loves Chicago to pieces, but she found one thing lacking: a decent scone. So she opened up Tipsycake, a huge kitchen attached to a tiny shop, where her widening circle of devotees comes for a sugar-fix suited to the most discerning Australian and British palates.
The thing that sets this sugar fix apart, however, is that there is a lot less sugar in these recipes than you'll find elsewhere. Stepanek is vehement when she explains that Americans use far too much of the sweet stuff in everything we make. Her traditional recipes rely on premium ingredients like fresh fruit, Belgian chocolate, French coconut and Wisconsin butter (turns out the Americans do that one best). The result is astounding: Buttercream frosting really tastes like fresh whipped butter, fruit fillings taste like real fruit, and my cinnamon scone—so perfectly crusty outside and melty-flavorful inside—almost made me cry.
Tipsycake does most of its business in custom orders, so the just-baked assortment of goods at the counter is usually limited to a few things, all best when paired with a cup of Umbria coffee or Mighty Leaf tea. But call ahead and they'll make your dreams come true in pastry form, from catered party trays to cakes shaped like airplanes, guitars, cargo ships or anything else you can think up, starting as low as $25. Delivery is free on orders of $45 or more. And moms, stop in with your little ones Wednesdays at 4 p.m. for free brownies and storytelling for tots ages 1-6.
Average cost: <$10
Centerstage Reviewer: Julia Steinberger