The time I accidently walked into a cannabis bakery

The time I accidently walked into a cannabis bakery

It all started with babka. For the last month or so, I’d had a hankering for a slice of the stuff. So when I was asked to bring a dessert to a brunch at my sister and my brother-in- law’s house, I knew just what I would get.

Babka. Not just any babka. A chocolate babka. From Leonard’s Bakery in Northbrook. And if chocolate wasn’t available, I would snag a cinnamon nut one. Leonard’s, after all, was legendary on the North Shore for their Jewish-style favorites: challah bread, hamentashen, rugelach, mandel bread, and, yes, babka.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with babka, it’s a dense, braided bread-like cake made with yeast and layers of sweet filling. It was made famous in a “Seinfeld” episode. Babka originated in the Jewish communities of Poland, Russia and Ukraine in the early 19th century, and it’s often found here in kosher and Jewish bakeries.

Leonard’s wasn’t exactly next door to my house, but it was close to my doctor’s office. I decided I would stop there after my upcoming appointment.

My mouth was watering as my husband pulled into the bakery’s parking lot, but we soon realized there was no Leonard’s there. In its place was, however, the Wake N Bakery.

We were in shock. What happened to Leonard’s? Did they change their name? Were they bought out? Do they still sell Leonard’s goodies? We were already they there, so what the heck. We went inside to check it out.

When we stepped inside the front door, we could see right away the store looked completely different. The place was freshly painted, very stark, with colorful, hippie-like murals, like something you’d like on a Grateful Dead album cover.

There was no line of beautiful babkas or row upon row of fragrant challah breads. None of Leonard’s famous chocolate coffee cakes drenched in glistening, sweet, chocolatey goodness.

Was there the heavenly scent freshly baked goodies? There was none. Nada. Zilch.

There were a few sweets on display. But the prices!? Damn. I mean $16.88 for a brownie!? Chocolate Chip Pecan cookies for $10.88??? Each. Whaaaaat!?

Behind the counter, a tall, friendly, bearded young man could see we were completely befuddled. He told us Leonard’s, which had been in business for 34 years, closed two years ago.

The guy explained to us clueless souls that Wake N Bakery was a bakery which sold sweets and drinks items which were infused with cannabis, THC hemp-derived cannabis. The sweet baked goods were made right on the premises, too. (Later I learned the bakery was a franchise of the bakery and coffee shop, Wake-N-Bakery in Lakeview.)

Aha! Now it made sense.

“Would you like to try a Banana Nut muffin? Or an Oreo cupcake?” he asked. He explained the cupcakes ranged in price from $8.88 to $10.88 to $18.88. The nice guy explained that the cupcake price differential was due to how big the cannabis infusion was. The larger the infusion, the higher the price of the cupcake.

“Not today, I said. “Maybe next time.” And I meant it. Maybe we would “get “sconed,” as it says on the bakery’s website, in the future.

When I badgered the nice bearded guy with more questions about Leonard’s, he kindly and patiently told us, Wake ‘N Bakery did not sell any products made from Leonard’s recipes, but Once Upon a Deli, located next door, did. The business had purchased some of Leonard’s recipes.

With that info, we hightailed it next door with high (no pun intended) hopes. They did have some of Leonard’s standbys. But sadly, no babkas. Turned out they didn’t make or sell babkas.

At Once Upon a Deli, we ended up buying a chocolate coffee cake, which tasted exactly the same as the one I remember from Leonard’s. Over-the- top sweet. Drowning in chocolate. Addictively delicious. So much so, one bite and we were experiencing a high of our own. It may have been just a sugar buzz high, nevertheless, for now at least, it was high enough for us.

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Judy Marcus

Judy Marcus is a freelance writer whose work appears in a variety of publications. She’s also a food lover. For news, recipes and commentary about food, check out her blog, Sugar Buzz Chicago. For news and opinions on almost anything else, visit Opinionated Woman.

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