Berkeley - Hopkins Street Bakery’s morning buns and more
I’m not a fan of most morning buns, even La Farine’s. Morning buns are usually too something … crispy, sweet, sugared, intense.
However, Hopkins Street makes the perfect morning bun. It is a very balanced bun.
It is a soft yet flaky, yeasty bun with a delicate dusting of sugar and cinnamon. The version with cranberries adds a nice tang. On request they heat them in the microwave for 30 seconds. Either way they are wonderful.
It is one of the few baked goods at any bakery that I have bought repeatedly.
An old report on chowhound about the morning bun which is just as true today
Hopkins Street might not be the best bakery in the area … they do some things really well and others … not so much.
However, I like that they have unusual pastries and try different things. Where else are you going to find bobo’s or paradisos? It’s the only place besides Crixa where I’ve seen eccles cakes.
A few things I’ve tried in the first link …
Hopkins Street Bakery
1584 Hopkins St, Berkeley, CA
This old Chowhound post says it perfectly
“Hopkins Street Bakery does plain and seeded challahs in small and large sizes. Better than the plastic bagged products - because it's still fresh. It's a little sweeter than the Cheeseboard Arizamendi product, and tastier than the La Farine version. … Soft and a little eggy, not over the top. Slightly sweet and moist without losing all texture”
HOT CROSS BUNS
Always at the top of my yearly hot cross bun hunt. It has a delicious aroma, with a nice slightly sticky glaze and a thin white icing cross. Good dense texture with a pleasantly yeasty flavor and the right hit of candied fruit and spice.
As is often reported, the pumpkin muffin is excellent, moist and with good pumpkin flavor and spice. I like the plain version rather than the one with chocolate chips which don’t seem to add anything to the buns.
Blueberry muffins – didn’t like this as much as the pumpkin because they have cornmeal in them and I’m not a fan of cornmeal. Hopkins has large square-topped type of muffins.
They are good, respectable cookies somewhere in between Teacakes chewy, buttery wonders and the average ‘meh’ bakery cookie. The Bagatelle Du Roi is their signature cookie, a triple chocolate cookie that is studded with pieces of chocolate. The first bite had me thinking it was a nice enough cookie. By the last bite I was really enjoying it.
The Gorgonzola potato (a Berkeley pastie?) was ok with a very salty filling. Nice crust with sesames seeds. The large pasty makes a substantial lunch. I might try the beef or chicken someday. However it is no John Campbell’s pastie. I’ve had John Campbell’s pasty and this was no John Campbell’s pastie.
Mini pie $4.50 There is nothing wrong with the pumpkin pie. It was a good pie with a smooth, probably canned, pumpkin filling with little spice and a good average crust. Wouldn’t turn it down but probably wouldn’t go out of my way for it
The cheese Danish was wrapped in a nice soft dough with a good cheese filling. Not amazing but fresh and better than many.
Bombolini (Sat Only) – These Italian donuts, little larger than a golf ball, were greasy and pricy ($1.75). The custard wasn’t even that good and the donut around it had started to break down from the grease.
Canoli (Sat only) – Maybe the worst I’ve ever had. The shell was actually excellent, very crispy and bubbly. The filling just seemed like sour cream mixed with too many and WAY too large chocolate chips
Here’s a link that includes some of what they offer for Christmas (scroll down)
Coffee is Thanksgiving brand.
The people at Hopkins span a whole spectrum. Sometimes service is distant while at other times warm and welcoming … plus everything in-between.
A few things on my list to still try: pan-au-lait, rugelach, strudel, and a few other of the Danish, especially the bear claws … yeah, that will probably be next.
Hopkins isn’t my favorite bakery, but I find it interesting and always stop by when I’m in that neighborhood to see what’s new.
I have to disagree about the bombolini. I've had one the last two Saturday mornings, and man, they were good. Maybe not the best custard in the world, but they were very tender and didn't seem at all greasy to me. The doughnut's texture was slightly spongier than an american doughnut, but I didn't notice it breaking down around the custard filling. The sign says they're fried in grapeseed oil, and it seemed to impart a fresh flavor. They are a bit pricey for their size, though.
I love Hopkins -- I think there's something about the combination of the aroma and the old-fashioned screen door that always takes me back to the bakery of my childhood. I like the morning buns with cranberries, and I do prefer the pumpkin muffins with the chocolate chips. They also make a nice iced sugar cookie too.
Had Tartine. Didn't like it. Like most morning buns, it is just too much. I guess I'm not a morning bun person. About the time I started reading Chowhound, the hot item everyone was raving about was La Farine's morning bun. It didn't wow me. Just too sugary for my taste and I didn't like the texture.
re: Mick Ruthven
Yum, sounds wonderful! A friend of mine and I were at Cafe Strada across from the UC Berkeley campus yesterday. He loves morning buns, and they had some very good ones :). So, possibly one more option for you. We sat outside on the covered patio, and watched it rain. We were cozy under the heater lamps.
Now I'm hungry!