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Friday, November 28, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 19.0° F  Overcast
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Fresh from Fitchburg: The Rolling Pin Bake Shop
Soup and cake for dinner again?
If you're looking for cake to dream about in Madison you may want to stop in Fitchburg.
Credit:Linda Falkenstein

The Rolling Pin Bake Shop's moniker suggests it's only a bakery. And while it's a stand-up bakery, it's also a top-notch breakfast spot and an inventive sandwich shop. And the soup! So let's head to Fitchburg and have a taste.

The Rolling Pin Bake Shop is in the Yarmouth Crossing shopping center, designed by well known Madison architect Ed Linville. It's at the intersection of Fish Hatchery Road and McKee Road, and like much of the development surrounding McKee Farms Park, it has a prairie-style look to it. While most of the commercial action is a block away in the vast shopping area where The Great Dane-Fitchburg is located, don't overlook Yarmouth Crossing's star tenant.

Inside Rolling Pin, there are a few couches and a handful of tables, as well as bakery cases filled with a taste-teasing, mind-boggling assortment of cookies, cakes, tarts, pies, cheesecakes and pastries.

Unable to pass up the allure of a fine layer cake, I picked out slices ($3.75 each) from a revolving glass case. The subtle tiramisu, white layer cake with the requisite espresso and Mascarpone fillings, was topped off with a fine layer of sweet whipped cream. The fudgy raspberry more than lived up to its name, with tart raspberry layers setting off the dark fudge. And the Lemon Sunshine, a yellow cake with a lemon curd layer and buttercream frosting, fulfilled my platonic ideal of what a lemon cake should be -- rich, moist, and unstinting with the lemon.

This is the real deal, cake to dream about -- nothing like what we have come to call "cake," that spongey sweet stuff decorated with garishly-colored, greasy frosting rosettes.

Other cakes on Rolling Pin's set menu include the Spotted Cow -- not made with beer, but with chocolate and white cake, fudge buttercream and chocolate ganache -- German Chocolate, Sacher Torte, Black Forest (with sour cherries and kirsch), Italian Rum Cake and one that I'm definitely going back for, the Boston Cream cake, yellow cake with vanilla cream and chocolate ganache. Rolling Pin does custom combos, too, if you're ordering sheet or wedding cakes.

Pies and tarts? The usual flavors, plus unusual varieties like Key Lime Cranberry and Sweet Potato and Cream Cheese.

Rolling Pin's breakfast menu rivals that of the best a.m. operations, with eggs Benedict (Friday, Saturday and Sunday only, $9), omelets (pick your own three fillings, $7.50), breakfast wrap (tortilla with eggs, herbed cream cheese, ham and cheddar and tomatoes, $6.75), French Toast or a Belgian Waffle ($6.75). The most unusual item on the morning menu is "From Russia With Love," dark Russian rye topped with cream cheese, lox, cucumber, onion and capers -- sort of a bagel deluxe without the bagel. Even so, I'd go with the omelet, which is enough for two breakfasts, or two people, if you can agree on the ingredients.

Rolling Pin also has an interesting menu of hot and cold sandwiches served during the lunch hour. I haven't been by at lunch and in fact just missed the serving hour the last time I was in (lunch runs from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Mon.-Fri., and noon to 2 p.m. on Saturday), but the nine cold and nine hot sandwiches include a muffaletta, Cuban pork press, Portobello mushroom and apple, crab cake, and tequila lime beef fajita. Most sandwiches are available as half- servings as well as whole (ranging from $4.75-$8.50).

Since I was late for lunch, I left with a container of frozen soup, of which there are a dozen or so flavors to choose from. The white chicken chili soup is a standout, with tender pieces of white meat chicken, a rich, mildly spicy broth dotted with green chilies, and no overdose of tiny white beans. It's definitely a white chicken chili soup, not white chicken chili.

If there's a drawback to Rolling Pin, it's that it does stop serving the bulk of its menu in the early afternoon even though the store is open until 6 p.m. Monday through Friday (closing at 4 p.m. on Saturday and 2 p.m. on Sunday). While this doubtless will scare some hungry Fitchburgians up the road to Panera Bread company, the dedicated eater will be happy to go home with frozen soup -- and, of course, a couple of slices of cake.

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