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Dias de los Tres Reyes goodies

Bakery offers traditional Latin treats for the holidays

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Holiday option No. 1: Slave for days in the kitchen baking gingerbread people, cake and pies for your relatives, who will then declare their devotion to the South Beach diet.

Holiday option No. 2: Head to Julia’s Bakery and Café in Lacey.

The assortment of freshly baked goods at Julia’s overflows with sweet aromas. A sweet treat lover can get an empanada or stuffed pastry in lemon, raspberry, pineapple, cream cheese, apple, Bavarian, strawberry or pumpkin, which is one of the most popular flavors during the holiday season, according to owner Julia De Lacruz.

She also noted the cinnamon and Spanish cookies go quickly, as do the sweet breads. De Lacruz, 55, hails from Guatemala City in Central America and brings the traditions of her homeland to the area through fresh-made goods.

In addition to sweet treats, another popular item customers order during the holidays is the dough to make tamales. She noted tamales are a special tradition that Spanish people make for Christmas dinner.

“We sell the best tamales in the Sound,” De Lacruz explains.

In celebration of New Years, the bakery’s specialty is Three Milk Cake, which is made with different kinds of milk including evaporated and sweet condensed.

“It’s very popular with Mexicans,” she says, “but the American people like it too.” 

Also for the Jan. 6 Mexican holiday — Dias de los Tres Reyes, which celebrates the end of the Christmas Season — Julia’s Bakery bakes a special Three Kings Cake. De Lacruz explains it’s a round cake with fruit on top, and inside the cake is a small baby doll. The person who finds this treasure is said to have good luck.

The holiday season is the busiest time of year for Julia’s Bakery and Café, which opened three years ago. De Lacruz says she started a bakery business with her husband, Aroldo, because they were tired of working for other people. They lived in California before relocating to Tumwater. “We have a lot of fun,” De Lacruz says, “and enjoy what we do.” 

Running a bakery takes long hours. De Lacruz says she’s usually at the store by 4 a.m. and doesn’t leave until 7 p.m. The husband and wife team enjoy giving back to the community and helping Spanish-origin residents get what they need. Julia’s Bakery, which delivers to the surrounding area, also sells products needed to make Latin dishes.

[Julia’s Bakery and Café, 7209 Martin Way E., Lacey, 360.438.6767]

24 Days of Cookies

Steph DeRosa has been running all over the South Sound chowing on holiday cookies and reporting her adventures on the Weekly Volcano blog, Spew. Check out what she’s reporting today at

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