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John Golden

John Golden writes about food and has a highly opinionated blog, The Golden Dish.

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Posted: April 21, 2014

Little Bigs: Better than the best

Written by: John Golden

What’s in a name anyway?  It’s the taste that counts and Little Bigs, the bakeshop in South Portland, which is ignominiously next door to the Acapulco Tanning Salon, is doing it so big-flaky right.

In case you haven’t followed the hype regarding New York’s cronut craze (a cross between a croissant and a donut that’s put into the deep fryer), Little Bigs came up with its own version called the Crauxnot when it opened last August.  That caused a quick legal battle in a name infringement suit, and the South Portland concern had to change the name.  They’re now called — so tongue and cheeky — C&D, a shortened ampersand-acronym for Cease and Desist or Croissant and Donut.

Maple-glazed crueller with bacon

I’ve still  have not had this wildly popular hybrid yet.  I’m on the reserve list for the June 15 batch and will remain virtually breathless until I can bite into this 9th wonder of the baking world.

But there’s more to this story than the bacchanalian cleverness of a baking brouhaha. What totally flipped me out with Little Bigs was their savory hand pies like Cornish pasty and pork pie.

I consider myself a pie maven of both sweet and savory versions, and I think my own pastry dough is right up there in the top rung.  So I’ve not been unduly impressed by the various pies around town made by indie bakers.  I like my own better — until I tried Little Bigs.

The dough for the savory hand pies is made from a classic  rich pate brisee  pastry dough (butter, flour, touch of sugar, egg, water) and they assemble it just right into the flakiest, most buttery crust this side of the Champs Elysees.

Little Bigs baker-proprietors James Plunkett and Pamela Fitzpatrick are making the best pies of anyone. They certainly both have the credentials having cooked and baked in top restaurants and bakeries around the country.

I’ve had the Cornish pasty, which is a delicious blend of beef, Worcestershire, potato, Dijon, onions and spices and the pork pie, with a mix of shoulder and loin, potato, onions, with the predominant taste of A-1 sauce.

Then there are the actual donuts and other baked confections. (As far as I’m concerned no other donut maker in Greater Portland compares to these, though the Urban Sugar food truck comes pretty close to being as phenomenal.

Raspberry hand pies

I loved Little Bigs’ crueller with the maple glaze and smoky bacon. I had one right after I finished my hand pies.  It was a lot of calories down the hatch all at once.  But there’s a saying in the food world—“don’t waste your calories.”  But if it concerns these crafty sweet and savory devils, who’s counting?

Little Bigs, 340 Maine St., South Portland; tkae 295 south to Exit 4, bear right onto Route 1 and about 1/2 miles down is their shop on the left

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