Winter holiday '08 Bakery Roundup
Inspired by the Thanksgiving Pie Roundup thread, I'm starting a winter holiday bakery special order roundup. I picked up a flyer today at Thorough Bread and Pastry. I'm guessing some people might be excited by Parisian macaroons! They don't usually sell them in the bakery. I noted the largest buche de Noel at Tartine that serves (I believe) 16 is a whopping $88. An 8-inch buche de Noel at Tartine is, um, I can't remember. In the $30's or $40's.
THOROUGH BREAD & PASTRY SPECIAL ORDER ITEMS
Pies, Cakes & Tarts
* Apple pie, pumpkin pie, pecan tart $18
* Buche de Noel $29 (serves 8-10) Traditional yule log: rolled cake with coffee buttercream, decorated with meringue mushrooms and chocolate ganache
* Caramel pear loaf $7 Hearty cake filled with pears and caramel
* Pumpkin pave $32 (serves 8-10) A creamy pumpkin cheesecake with hazelnut streusel
* Pumpkin pave bar $1.50
* Challah $5 One pound braided loaf
* Challah rolls $.50 each / $6 baker's dozen
* Panettone $15 Naturally-leavened brioche with a soft, tender crumb with vanilla, honey, orange zest, candied citrus, and raisins. Available 12/19-12/26
* Mini panettone $4.50
* Stollen $10 Tender, mildly sweet loaf packed with rum-soaked raisins, candied citrus, and slivered almonds. Available 12/19-12/26
* Mini stollen $4.50
* Gingerbread people $1 each
* Parisian macaroons, 3 for $5 Raspberry, chocolate, vanilla
* Decorated sugar cookies $1 each
Order by Saturday 12/20 and receive a free baguette. Orders must by placed by Monday 12/22 for guaranteed Christmas Eve pickup. We are open on Christmas Eve until 5PM. We are closed on Christmas Day
Has anyone tried the polentina cake, panettone or sarzana at Fiorini in Sonoma? They make these year round but they were very nicely wrapped for the holidays.
I stopped by Sunday because it has been way too long since my last visit. I was curious about the holiday offereings since Victoria Pastry, where the owner started, doesn't make their own pannetone. Things seemed to be about the same.
Looking on their website it seems they " have brought in a Cordon Bleu-trained chef to upgrade the midday meal menu. Raquel Arroyo is developing a different offering for each day of the week (Tuesday through Saturday) that will be added to the existing lunch choices.Speaking in the charming patois of a woman who was born in Peru, attended Le Cordon Bleu in Paris"
Seems like reading along, this is a woman who owned her own restaurants in the East Bay, retired and is back in the kitchen making lunch dishes such as
- Fettucini Primavera
- Stuffed Bell Peppers with Mushroom Gravy and Grana Padano Cheese
- Polenta Baked with Four CheesesRoasted Vegetables: Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts and Carrots
- Chicken with Madeira sauceCauliflower Soufflé
So, I was there on Sunday and missed that. Anyone tried the food during the week?
I just bought a neopolitan meringue because I've been eating waaay too many sweets this month. It was lovely and I recommend it. The nuts incorporated in the meringue gave it a delicious flavor and the occasional cherry was nice too.
They will be closed the first nine days of January for their annual vacation.
248 W Napa St, Sonoma, CA
We had a Delessio lemon ginger trifle today, which was nothing like what it sounds. Almost like a gingerbread fruitcake--dense and covered with merIngue. Beautiful, tasty, and not heavy, but not the best of their cakes that I've tried. Not sure where the lemon part came in.
Their buche du noel was spectacular looking, although it appears to be chocolate chocolate chocolate with only a little raspberry for relief. It's around $28. Also a tip that Delessio at Faletti's remains a delightful place to shop, a haven compared to the Market Street store chaos this time of year, with ample parking and cheerful, helpful employees. They'll be open until 6 Christmas eve.
There was also a simpler gingerbread with frosting for ~$15. Unlike most of their cakes, the gingerbreads are genuinely designed for 8 or so portions. The tres leches would easily serve twice that many.
At the other end of the holiday cake scale, I picked up a red boxed German rum cake at Trader Joe's for 99 cents and brought it to a friend's. We liked it quite a bit. (I didn't tell them how little it cost until after). It was moist and not overly alcoholic. Not sure why the price is so low. Maybe some of the boxes were dented? The flour alone would have cost that much. This would be very good with vanilla ice cream or a bit of whipped cream.
TJs on 9th Street had a lot of inexpensive, well-packaged holiday cakes and candies. More than I've noticed in the past. I resisted the peppermint bark truffles, but only because the rum cake was such a bargain, but did pick up Weisella iced gingerbread cookies.
Finally my cousin claims the macarons at Miette are getting better and better. Any corroboration? I tend to stick to Miette's candy offerings.
I bought a tube of 4 macarons at Thorough yesterday for $5. I have nothing to compare them to, but they are beautiful and I thought they tasted nice. Anyone who is in the area needs to check out their awesome bread Christmas tree.
Drewes Brothers, the meat market on Church St., is taking orders for pies and buche de Noel (no price listed for pies/buche de Noel $21, but what seemed like an awful combo of flavors and not traditional). I asked who was making the pies, and they said Nina's Patisserie and another outfit called Pollyanna. I don't know who these folks are.
I dropped in the Boniere the other day to check out their holiday offerings. The have panettone and a really dense moist fruit cake that they sell in chunks by the pound. They had buche de noel in two sizes -- the small looked like it would serve about eight and was about $10 and the large was twice that. Holiday petit fours were cute; they had traditional homestyle gingerbread men with m&ms for eyes and buttons and other Christmas cookies. Pumpkin poundcake for $5.95 looks good -- I might get some for Christmas morning. I forgot to note their holiday hours, but per a sign on the door they are now open Sundays.
3249 Grand Avenue, Oakland, CA
Crixa bakery in berserkley seemed to have a larger selection of goodies than usual this past Sat. Holiday type stuff included two variations of the Tuscan fruit/nut cake pan forte (one with fig, the other not). Those who like the pannetone/hot cross bun sweet bread type of thing (it doesn't have the icing or custardy type of 'frosting' cross buns usually have) would like their bagel-shaped (slightly bigger and flatter than a jumbo bagel) coffee cake--it was good warmed in the toaster oven. T.Joes last week was giving out warmed up samples of their pannetone, it actually was good for a supermarket version.
Crixa has carried the panforte for years. Some other things thay have -
Chestnut kifli - buttery, crisp crescent with nice chestnut plates.
Saint Nicholas Gold Drop - round butter cookies with a gold icing. (very nice)
Saint Nicholas gingerbread cookies - Nice soft gingery cookies with different paper pictures of Santa Claus.
I like Masse's buche the best. Crixa's buche de Noel is also sold by the slice so you can test drive it without making a major financial commitment. The vanilla cake was very eggy and a dense chiffon that held up nicely with the delicious mocha buttercream filling. Nice dark chocolate frosting.
Finally found my major post about East Bay Christmas goodies
I'm in the process of putting that and other posts about Bay Area Christmas treats in this list. It is more compact. As of this post, still a work in progress
Don't forget about Emporio Rulli's pannetone which are very good.
Does anyone know if Frog Hollow is making their Christmas cake this year?
Pfeffernuesse are the cookies at Nelham's
To pick out some of the more interesting stuff from the long East Bay post
Fat Apple's sells rehrucken is a flourless chocolate cake, with chocolate icing and sprinkled with chopped pistachios. It looks like a log cut in half and is made in special molds. It looks like a saddle of venison and is actually called Venison cake. At FatApple;s they called it deer back cake because the pistachios sprinkled on the dark cake looked like the spots on the back of a deer. They make a nice stollen too and pretty sugar cookies.
La Farine's stollen comes a close second to Fatapples
The qualiy of La Farine's was slightly better. It was covered with granulated rather than powdered sugar. There was a nice distribution of toasted chopped almonds and raisins in every bite. There was a pleasant little bit of orange peel also. I could see the marzipan, but the flavor didn't stand out. However, it accentuated the flavor of the almonds which were delicous. The bread was dense, yeasty and subtly buttery.
Other specials have included torrone, tree of life honey cake, springerle cookies with elaborate stamped designs, ginger Madeira cake, Dundee cake, cranberry walnut pie, and black current Linzer tart.
Macarons at Thorough? Great to know. Have you tried any yet?
John Campbell's continues its expansion of hours and holiday treats. Last time I was there I noticed they're open Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Eve, New Year's Day. Not high end in the pastry department, but who wouldn't enjoy a Guinness bread with cranberries or a cherry chocolate bread (or a corned beef on a bap)?
Delessio always adds holiday desserts to its usual stellar cake selection. They are generally $25-35 and huge. Still in love with the malted vanilla cake, but looking for an excuse to bring a tres leches to a party. They do allow ordering ahead. It was a complete zoo last year on Christmas Eve.
Thanks for the reminder of John Campbell's. I picked up a small plum pudding ($5). It is moist and filled with sultanas, raisins apples (I think) and the best, thinnest slivers of almonds.
There are also tiny mince tarts with a crumbly topping and excellent filling of chopped raisins and dried fruit with a touch of vinegar to the taste.
I'm glad there were mini versions of the stollen and panettone at Thourough Bread and pastry. The Panettone was almost like what would be produced if a Emporio Rulli and an Acme panetonne mated. There were some cinammon streusel spots like one of the Rulli pannetone has and topping with sugar was like Rulli. The panettone itself was on the dry side like Acme. There was some finely chopped orange peel in it too. It was better heated.
The strudel just reminded me of a morning bun in a struesel shape. It was dusted with granulated sugar and cinnamon and there were golden raisins and chopped almonds.
Had a slice of Buche de Noel from Chestnut Street bakery which was fine, but lighter than I prefer. They made some in Christmas Tree shape. They had some nicely decorated Christmas cookies which I bought for gifts. Never tried one myself.
All in all, Hopkns Street Bakery's stollen got my vote as the best new holiday baked good I had this year. Up there with Cheeseboard's fruit cake for my taste. I'll definately buy it again next year.
Has anyone tried Beckman's fruitcake? It's $15 and it is hard for me to commit to fruitcake without tasting because then I'm just stuck with it.
Anyway I've done long threads in the past about holiday baked goods throughout the Bay Area and the three that stand out in my mind without searchg
- Masse's mini buche de noel. This just tops everything. Surprising I liked the lemon even better than the chocolate. The German chocolate wasn't shoddy either. As ALWAYS for this bakery, beautifully present. Highly, highly recommended.
- Cheeseboards fruit cake. I love this with dried fruit like apricots and all that booze.
- Michael Mischner's stollen. I don't know if this was a one-time thing, but it was excellent everything good about stollen.
This year I'm really liking the stollen from Nuernberger’s German Bakery,. They sell at the Pinole and Concord farmers market. Lots of the ingrediants, such as the flour, are imported from Germany. There are also nice molasses cookies.
Speaking of cookies, Neldham's makes some really nice ... those cookies that being with a 'pf" and are German.
I was over at Thorough today also. I picked up a jar of their cranberry sauce and the peach jam. Haven't tried them yetl.
Michael Mischer Chocolates
3352 Grand Ave Oakland CA
He's a chocolate maker, but he has a few baked goods like cookies and the occasional stollen. Give him a call to see if he is making it this year.
In SF, I want to give Thourough bread and pastry's stollen this year. They are making a mini version.
Nuernberger’s German Bakery which sells at farmers markets in Pinole and I think Concord, has a good stollen. He imports many of the ingredients from Germany.
Fat Apple's makes a very good stollen. There's some German thing going on there as they often have some German dessert I've never heard of.
Masse's stollen is lovely, soft, fresh and buttery, with a light sugar & spice topping. It is thick with almonds, plump raisins and the most decadent, rich marzipan center. There’s a special German spice in it, weihnachtsgewurz.
Crixa added stollen this year to their holiday baked goods. Haven't tried it though.
The stollen at La Farine is dense, yeasty and subtly buttery covered with granulated rather than powdered sugar. There was a nice distribution of toasted chopped almonds and raisins in every bite. There was a pleasant little bit of orange peel also. I could see the marzipan center, but the flavor didn't stand out. It accentuated the flavor of the almonds which were delicious
Haven't tried the stollen yet at Sweet Adeline
Also haven't tried the Weihnacht's stolen at Hopkins Street Bakery either.
Addresses of these are here
I bought the stollen at Hopkins Street Bakery today. While they don't dust it with powdered sugar, it looks a lot like this inside
Outside it looked something like the unsugared stollen in this photo
It is dense, almost scone-like and buttery. There are lots of currents, golden raisins, whole walnuts and some finely chopped candied fruit.The description of it says it also has brandy and rum. That isn't apparent except for the lovely aroma ... it is not alcoholic, just fragrant.
Before trying it, I stopped by Cheeseboard and saw they had large stollens prettily dusted with powdered sugar and was regretting the plain simple stollen in my car. I was lured by Hopkins calling their stollen Weihnachtsstollen
However, after a few bites, I was really happy. I like this less sweet version.
Nabolom Bakery offers a single size stollen with lemon icing that is not cloyingly heavy or overly filled. For the holidays they are also offering a very dense fruit cake, pumpkin cheesecake, apple cranberry pie and pumpkin pie.
While their danish does not compare with the "french", give a nod to a worker owned cooperative. I also think their challah is worth the trek.
Russell St. at College Ave. Berkeley