Sweet-Tooth Paradise at The Village Bakehouse

April 24, 2022

My taste buds filled with anticipation, I bite off a hefty piece of the mega-sized cinnamon roll topped with a generous slather of house-made cream cheese. The cream cheese is not your average store-bought melted or pure hydrogenated-oil brand. I can tell that this recipe was carefully crafted, mixing together the right proportions of ingredients for the perfect mix of sweet creaminess and density. No wonder the prestigious The Village Bakehouse has lasted for over 20 years!

The charming little bakehouse is located in the Oro Valley area of Tucson. While they are most well-known for their assorted cakes and pastries, breakfast and lunch options are available as well. I first encountered it as a toddler when my parents brought me there. Then years went by with no visits.  I recently re-discovered it as a first-year college student looking to write about a local bakery near me. The pastries were just as sweet as the nostalgia that washed over me when I went back.

The Grand Entrance

Only having been there once a long time ago, I didn’t know what to expect when my Dad and I entered the bakehouse. Immediately, I was drawn to the long display case and ordering counter, where I spotted some contemplative patrons struggling over which tasty treat to order. A few steps later, I started to take in the atmosphere of the place. The warm brown colors, typical of cafe decor, in combination with the assorted old-fashioned items, made me feel relaxed and happy. I needed this quick hit of dopamine because I had a tingly sensation in my stomach, signaling my nerves for the interview I planned on conducting with the owner. 

Chocolate bites and cupcakes in a display case

I made my way into the ordering line so I could ask to speak with the owner. In the meantime, I took advantage of the wait to examine the delicious assortments. My thoughts could not keep up with my eyes as I scanned the display. I saw bear claws, filled powdered croissants, enormous cinnamon rolls, colorful cupcakes, elegant cheesecake and chocolate bites, numerous bars, frosted and classic cookies – Whew! If I was speaking this out loud, I’d be out of breath by now!

My Dad and I settled down at an indoor table while I waited for the owner to become available. It was a classic, shiny dining table with a post-Covid addition — a small sign that said “Sanitized.”

Behind the scenes – Cake!

After I wrapped up my talk with Ms. Paulette, I cautiously inquired if I could take a look inside the kitchen so I could really get a feel for the magic going on behind the scenes. To my pleasant surprise, she agreed! Having worked in a kitchen before, I was prepared for the change from the warm colors in the lobby to the industrial colors of white and shiny, stainless-steel silver. That didn’t take away from my impression of the kitchen, though.

I followed Ms. Paulette through the kitchen, past the grill and sandwich station, to a busy prep station. Although the kitchen was sizable, every surface was occupied by some dough-formation or tools, and sprinkles of flour. Eventually, she let me observe one of the workers decorate a cake, which was the part I was most excited about!

Cake decoration process

How could a simple two-stack of cakes turn into such a colorful, edible art-piece? Here, I found my answer! Having worked there for over a decade, she was a cake-decorating veteran. From applying the thick buttercream to carefully applying the bee tracks, she made it look like a piece of cake (sorry, that pun was awful!), but from watching Nailed It!, I know that’s not the case. Her casual maneuvering of the flat spatula and the turntable to apply buttercream, and quick, accurate strokes of decorative piping impressed me, to say the least!

Two finished cakes

Deciding what to buy is … not easy!

After I left the kitchen, I decided to order a few things. The options were so numerous and appealing that the decision boggled my brain. Luckily, one of the employees, Mr. Lewis, recommended a pleasantly-powdered, raspberry-filled croissant. And then I also chose a giant cinnamon roll because… well, how could I not? Lastly, the most majestic cupcake I had ever seen seemed to glow from behind the glass. The frosting was a fresh blue and had a brushed-texture-look; topping it off was an adorable little sugar turtle! I had to buy it, naturally.

In contrast to the cozy inside of the bakehouse, the patio was quite spacious, hosting several tables and potted plants to spruce up the view. Across from me at one of these tables, my dad indulged in his breakfast burrito, well-stuffed with sour cream, savory green salsa, eggs, and overflowing seasoned potatoes (to which I helped myself). Meanwhile, I spent some minutes trying to get the perfect shot of the beautifully-adorned cupcake in front of me.

Come to think of it, “minutes” is an exaggeration. Ever since I snuck a peek inside the treasure chest of pastries I just bought, I could not wait to try them all! Unashamedly, my mouth watered in agreement.

The Taste Test (at last!)

At last, the moment I looked forward to since my arrival had come. I carefully took the croissant from the box and took a bite. Delightful! The powdered sugar was not too sweet or overwhelming and neither was the raspberry filling. I then noticed the buttery flakiness of the croissant, as it should be. I was impressed by the perfect proportions! Mr. Lewis did not let me down. Next, I tried the cinnamon roll, which I described at the beginning.

Lastly, I tried the turtle cupcake, although I was reluctant to destroy its beauty. I was so used to store-bought cupcakes with that disgusting, neon frosting. I didn’t even know cupcakes could taste this amazing! The frosting was light with a subtle cream cheese flavor (the good kind, again). The bread was fluffy, but filling and with a hint of vanilla.

Aside from the tasty treats, I remembered vaguely the welcoming patio space from my visit there as just a little boy. Tucson, as you may know, is well-known for its warm summers, and even warm springs. However, the combination of a cool, early-spring morning, house-made, ambrosian pastries, and a delightful spot to enjoy both, made my experience a memorable one.

The Inside Scoop

In my opinion, the principles upon which a business is founded are just as important as the physical appearance. It turns out that the owner, Ms. Paulette, cares a lot about these too. When I asked about her favorite part of the job, she told me that “it’s just a good feeling to get something to come out and have people like it.” Ms. Paulette also told me that besides keeping customers satisfied, she’s driven to keep her employees happy and motivated.

Consistent with the name Village Bakehouse, their greatest method of advertising is through word of mouth. The fact that every pastry is handmade really completes the cozy and friendly “village” atmosphere.


Andres Silva-Castellanos is a student at the University of Arizona pursuing a BS in Computer Science and minors in Mathematics and French.