Smile Politely

Falling for autumn’s flavors

Happy first day of fall, readers. Fall is just the best. I like crisp mornings and snuggling up with a warm cup of something. I love seeing colorful leaves and all the autumn pies.

Last year, I wrote a list of five fall things which included Curtis Orchard’s apple fritters, Art Mart’s pumpkin cookies, Jarling’s pumpkin pie snowstorm, and more. I asked if you preferred apple or pumpkin flavors and in my Instagram stories, and the response was pretty even between the two fall flavors with a slight preference for pumpkin.

So, here are this year’s fall treats and eats: an apple drink, a pumpkin drink, an apple pie, a pumpkin cake, and a treat made with Japanese pumpkin.

In a large red mug, there is a pumpkin pie latte from Aroma Cafe on a wooden patio table with pretty bushes and flowers behind it. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Pumpkin Pie Latte | Aroma Cafe

Is it even fall if you don’t have a pumpkin latte? Not for me, it isn’t. I enjoyed this seasonal pumpkin pie latte ($4.20) from Aroma Cafe on one of their patio tables. It came in a very large mug with pretty foam. Honestly, this drink was perfect. It had a lovely pumpkin flavor with vanilla sweetness and a touch of coffee flavor; it was practically a dessert drink. When the cream mixed with the pumpkin flavor, it tasted so much like pumpkin pie with melted whipped cream, and that’s literally all I want from a pumpkin pie latte. Go get you one of these. 

You can order online or order at the coffeeshop housed inside Cowboy Monkey and enjoy inside, to go, or at one of the many patio tables.

Aroma Cafe
6 Taylor Street
M-F 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Sa+Su 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

On a black, metal outdoor table, there is a single glass of beer with

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Curtis Orchard Hard Cider | Blind Pig

Curtis Orchard cider is everywhere: in the donuts at Curtis Orchard, in Watson’s fall slush, and in this cider from Blind Pig. One evening, I tried Blind Pig’s Curtis Orchard Hard Cider ($5 for a 13 ounce pour) and I loved it. I’m not big into plain apple cider, but a hard cider? Gimme. This one was on draft and served cold which I enjoyed on the back patio. The dry English-style hard cider was apple forward and had a prominent sweet cider taste. It was a superb fall adult beverage made by a local brewery with apple cider from a local orchard, and I thought that made this drink pretty cool.

Refreshing and delicious, this cider is great anytime whether you’re at Blind Pig or ordering online for curbside pickup.

Blind Pig
120 N Walnut St
M-Sa 5 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Su 5 p.m. to midnight

On a white table, there is a mini apple pie with a crumble topping in a tin foil pan. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Apple Pie | Britt’s House of Sweets

This apple pie ($12) is only sold at the Champaign Farmers’ Market on Tuesdays. In a small tin pan, the pie is individually portioned for one lucky person — or for a few people to split. I was able to cut four small slices of pie from this pie by Britt.

I loved the crumble topping and every sweet, sugary crumb that fell onto my plate, I scraped up. I warmed the pie in the over for about 30 minutes on 250 degrees, and the apple pie was really yummy when warmed. The crust was not very sweet, just a great buttery, crumbly topping. Inside, the apple pie filling had thick apple slices with a little crunch. The apples were super delicious and cinnamon-y, and there were a lot of apples in this apple pie. The flavors in this pie were totally autumnal with the apples, spices, and warm sugary topping. Clearly, Britt has excellent pie-making skills, and if you haven’t tried one of her pies, you should.

Britt’s House of Sweets

In a piece of white parchment paper, there is a pumpkin spicebush cake with cream cheese frosting. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Pumpkin Spicebush Cake | Berries & Flour

This miniature cake ($6) was a fantastic fall treat. I’d never heard of spicebush (am I alone?), and I asked cottage baker Heidi Leuszler what spicebush was before I bought the little cake. She said it was something that grows locally, a shrub that she foraged. Sold.

The cake’s crumb was so soft and full of fall flavors. The sweet cream cheese frosting was wonderful — and there was a lot of it which made me happy. The cake was not too sweet; if you’re worried about sickly-sweet sweets, this isn’t it. This cake had unctuous flavors of cinnamon, ginger, pumpkin, and spicebush. This pumpkin spicebush cake is something you’ll want to enjoy this fall.

You can find this pumpkin spicebush cake from Berries & Flour at the Champaign Farmers’ Market on Tuesday afternoons and at select weekends in Urbana’s Market at the Square. There were lots of other cake flavors available at the market when I stopped by, or you can also pre-order one of the interesting flavors from her website like peach chai, basil lemonade, chocolate chipotle, and more.

Berries & Flour

On a white table, there is a circular, pleated cupcake wrapper holding a kabocha pan from Suzu's Bakery in Champaign. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Kabocha Pan | Suzu’s Bakery

What is kabocha? It’s a Japanese pumpkin. This seasonal release pan from Suzu’s Bakery is a milk bread pan filled with sweetened kabocha ($3.75) with an option to have whipped cream injected for 25 cents. I threw down a quarter for the sweet cream injection on my kabocha pan, and I recommend you do, too.

The little roll was very full of kabocha filling with a little layer of sweet cream inside a soft, fluffy pan. The filling was sweet but not too sweet, and the kabocha, while unfamiliar to me, had a wonderful fall taste. With ginger and squash flavors, the filling was enhanced by the cream injection, and it tasted like a lovely dessert or an indulgent snack. It was creamy, delicious, and an autumn bite that I’ll enjoy often this fall season.

Suzu’s Japanese Bakery
114 N Walnut St
W-Sa 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Su 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Top image by Alyssa Buckley.

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