Triangle bread lovers are blessed with an embarrassment of riches. You don’t have to look hard to find excellent examples of every size, shape, and flavor profile. Even better, this bounty is matched by an abundance of imaginative, locally made spreads. Here are five of our favorite baked goods (including a gluten-free option) to mix and match with some of the area’s best toppers.

The Breads

Ninth Street Bakery’s Sourdough French

Ninth Street makes a plethora of delicious loaves. Its sunflower whole wheat is a favorite among local delis and sandwich shops, but the sourdough French is our go-to for toast. When toasted, the crumb has a rustic, semi-dense but still tender texture. Lightly tangy yet yeasty, it feels indulgent, wholesome, and nurturing.  

Strong Arm Baking’s Croissants

True French croissants are not the flaxen blond of a Hollywood ingénue, but the burnt sienna of our box of Crayola’s. This darker bake creates something called shatter—a crispy, crackly exterior that hides an interior so tender and airy, it’s basically butter-flavored air. Strong Arm’s Julia Blaine bakes one of the very best versions of a classic French croissant this side of Marseille.

Imagine That’s Gluten-Free Baguette

Bread made without gluten, dairy, and nuts often leaves you with nothing but sadness and a desire for real food. Carrboro’s Imagine That, on the other hand, makes a baguette that, when fresh, you couldn’t pick out of a lineup alongside traditional breads. As with most gluten-free breads, there isn’t much of a shelf-life. The texture of day-old baguette lends itself better to bread crumbs and croutons.

Weaver Street Market’s Seven-Grain

Every bread pantry needs a good multigrain, but they can be hard to find. They’re either dense as a brick, too sweet, or gritty. Weaver Street Market’s seven-grain is ideal: soft but not mushy, with a touch of sweetness that balances the smoky, slightly bitter notes. The slices make sandwiches that work either straight-up or toasted, and partners deliciously with both sweet and savory fillings.

Loaf’s Polenta Bread

Loaf’s polenta bread may be the platonic ideal for a tomato sandwich; its mild flavor doesn’t compete with fillings, and there’s enough structure to hold juicy, ripe tomatoes without being too dense. But it’s no one-trick pony. It possesses a crisp crust, pillowy interior, and, due to the slight crunch of the cornmeal, a soft crumb that’s never doughy. The texture is enhanced by the rich corn flavor that almost recalls the caramel-like sweetness of moonshine but isn’t overwhelming. 

The Spreads

Maple View Farm’s Butter

Julia Child famously said, “With enough butter, anything is good.” This butter is so good, you don’t need much to transform anything, but there’s no denying its appeal when slathered on bread. Maple View creates a product with two simple ingredients—cream and salt—that rivals the best European butter and tastes like sunshine, green pastures, and happy cows.

King Cobra Apiary’s Honey

To make creamed honey, honey must be filtered, then slowly spun to create microcrystals, which keeps the honey from turning into giant rock crystals. This process yields a super-silky texture that spreads and melts like butter on warm food or acts like icing on cold food. King Cobra owner Ali Iyoob makes his flavored creamed honeys with just honey, fruit, and spice to create flavors such as cinnamon apple, blueberry, and persimmon. They’re a treat on anything.

Elodie Farms’ Fleur Verte Goat Cheese

Elodie Farms is a quiet, picturesque 1910 farmstead-turned-goat-farm. In addition to hosting weddings, farm dinners, and tours, Elodie makes a variety of goat cheeses. One of them, fleur verte, is marinated in jars of olive oil with bay leaves, pink peppercorns, garlic, and herbs de Provence, which makes for an unexpectedly bright, floral, and herbaceous spread.

Jolly Good Jams’ Charlie

Flavors such as rose water, lavender, and herbs run the risk of tasting like Grandma’s perfume, but Jolly Good Jams owner Preeti Waas deftly layers them into her line of seasonal, small-batch jams. Take Waas’s cherry jam, Charlie, in which she starts with bright, whole cherries mellowed by deep warm vanilla and finishes with a subtle, woodsy rosemary.

Simons Says Spread This’s Orange Hazelnut Butter

Culinary Institute of America graduate Nathan Simons and his food-photographer wife, Audrey, fell hard for the flavored nut butters they discovered on their European travels. Simons Says Spread This is their line of small-batch nut butters crafted with cashews, pecans, macadamias, and hazelnuts, which are ground in a machine called a mélanger for eighteen hours, yielding an exceptionally smooth texture. The orange hazelnut, made with roasted Oregon hazelnuts and pure orange oil is tangy, slightly sweet, and as silky as a French nightgown.

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