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Buy the buche, save the sanity

Local bakeries offer a plethora of yuletide yummies

Sure, it's fun to bake oodles of cookies and coffeecake for the holidays Ñ if you don't have a job, children or out-of-town relatives gobbling up your time.

Take it easy on yourself, and let the pros take care of your baked-good needs. The higher cost of prefab goodies will be mitigated by what you save in therapy and massage bills by retaining your sanity during Santa season.

Pix Patisserie

You'd guess that a French-influenced pastry outfit like Pix would whip up bžche de No‘l (Yule log cake that is shaped and decorated to resemble an actual log) at Christmastime, but you might not expect four fabulous varieties to be on offer. For her traditional bžche, Cheryl Wakerhauser layers airy gŽnoise (similar to spongecake but better) with chocolate, coffee or hazelnut cream, while the more unusual Citron bžche employs lemon-soaked gŽnoise, light pastry cream, candied lemon and meringue.

Many other delights are in store for the Pix shopper, including chocolate-drenched Oregon cherries that have been soaking up kirsch since summer.

Soon, you can stop by Wakerhauser's welcoming cafe to order artful holiday confections and have a nibble of what's in the pastry case in one fell swoop. Until then, place orders by phone three days before desired pickup date (sometimes she can squeeze orders in with just two days' notice).

3402 S.E. Division St.,

503-232-4407

Ken's Artisan Bakery

Slipping into Ken's Artisan Bakery for coffee, croissants and a whiff of aromatic baking bread is a good form of therapy itself. Here, bžche de No‘l is made with chocolate-orange mousse and is available Dec. 20 to Dec. 24 only. But all other seasonal wonders are ready to order now.

Braided brioche loaves spiked with nutmeg and pepper will complement holiday dinners. French fruitcake, pear-gingerbread upside-down cake and assorted tarts make dessert worth lingering over even in the midst of battling cousins.

The chocolate advent cake is a fun way to bring a bit of tradition to any home. It is shaped like a wreath and embellished with four red candles for counting down the days until Christmas.

338 N.W. 21st Ave., 503-248-2202

Florio Bakery

If you haven't stopped by this serene, light-filled bakery, now is the time. Large enough to grant ample personal space between tables and minimalist but warm, it serves as an ideal retreat. Florio's seasonal specials mix homey with haute. There's a sweet potato pie but also a chocolate-chestnut torte. And the Basque tart, vanilla pastry cream baked in an almond crust, is both exotic and comforting. Breads range from cranberry-walnut to whole-wheat sourdough dinner rolls.

The real steal here is a Yule log of cinnamon rolls that you bake at home. When family and guests smell that in the oven, they'll never guess that you didn't slave over it yourself. Two-day advance notice for orders is preferred.

2728 S.E. Ankeny St.,

503-234-0206