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Feb 22, 2012 07:24 PM

Boniere Bakery - hot cross buns and malasadas from heaven [Oakland]

I had given up looking for Boot and Shoe for breakfast pastries and coffee (yeah, I know... across the street).

The parking place in front of Boniere was open and I spotted the sign - hot cross buns and malasadas (Portuguese donuts)

It is the best malasada I've ever had and quite frankly the best donut I've had period in a long time despite all the aritisan donuts, good as they've been.

It was croissant shaped, and as light and fresh as a cloud. A cloud rolled in cinnamon sugar.

On a scale of one to five stars it was a ten.

I had rushed home to report this so people could get there today but unfortunately was distracted by a Site Talk issue. I hope they make the malasadas tommorrow. If they do snap them up.

The hot cross bun was very nice as well. A little softer and yeastier than most, loaded with raisins and nice accents of candied citrus. They didn't quite have a cross but a puddle of custard in the middle. They cut the cross in the top the custard just didn't settle right.

Both were certainly better than what I bought at Boot and Shoe later.

I've been to Boniere a few times now. It is one of those places, IMO, that needs Chowhound. You can get some real meh stuff there. But if you hit the great stuff like that malasada ... wow.

They didn't make king cake this year, but they said they make it occasionally on Fat Tuesday. This year they had a large order for something else and didn't have time for the king cake.


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  1. Thanks for the report. When they were in Alameda, they had malasadas regularly up until Easter.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Ruth Lafler

      Good to know. They will be one of those rare items I'll buy more than once.

      Perfect description from that long ago link

      "This version was kind of free-form (reminded me of a smaller version of a donut shop apple fritter), with a dark, crunchy exterior liberally coated with cinnamon and sugar. The inside was moister and fluffier than a donut -- it melted in my mouth, leaving a subtle perfume of orange (apparently some versions of malasadas include orange zest).'

      I didn't notice the orange, but I was first stunned on how good it was and i kind of inhaled it not stopping to savor the sublteties. I don't know what a classic malasada fan would say. I say it was better without losing the spirit.

      1. re: rworange

        BTW, when the malasadas are gone, try the regular doughnuts one day -- really good classic American doughnuts, especially the cake doughnuts.

    2. nice to know. will look for hot cross buns and malasada if i ever park here again.

      brought a slice of pricey cake there recently and the frosting definitely tasted sour. so buyer beware. lot's of the items on the shelves are "lifers". (past it's sell by date).

      1. Nice tip. I'm often in this 'hood and in the mood for a pastry and have wondered about Boniere, but unfortunately I'm usually also looking to park myself in front of my laptop for a couple hours -- which is why I always end up at Boot and Shoe or, before they went on their two-month vacation, Kitchen 388. Now I'll have to go out of my way to try those malasadas.

        FWIW, I don't think the breakfast pastries are a particular strength at Boot and Shoe. They do have some nice savory breakfast items (a nice chickpea and baked egg dish, and better-than-average frittatas). I've also had some nice bowls of soup and a meatball sub that was better than, say, Southie's.

        3 Replies
          1. re: rworange

            Nope, but I did see your report - sounds like a good lunch option. Lately I've been walking all the way to 15th and Harrison on Wednesdays for the burgers from the fivetenburger truck, which are my new favorite.

            1. re: abstractpoet

              fivetenburgers are my fave food truck burger. almost everyone else burns theirs. not 5-10
              medium rare baby!

        1. Cool. Initial report when they opened on Grand was that they might not do malasadas or donuts due to space constraints

          1. Yes we have no malasadas, we have no malasadas today. However, tomorrow Friday, the young lady said they will have them.

            15 Replies
            1. re: wolfe

              I was there trying to score one today as well. The woman said they only had them yesterday because of Lent. Normally, they're a Friday-only item.

              Re: Ruth's rec above - no regular American donuts sold here. Sounds like they've scaled back on some of what they were doing at their previous location.

              1. re: abstractpoet

                Just picked up some malasadas as well as hot cross buns. They are crispy on the outside and tender inside, and I thought I could taste something other than cinnamon -- coriander or cardamom? Priced at 75c each, which seems criminally inexpensive. Hot cross buns are $1 each.

                I would describe each more but that would involve me eating what I bought for the rest of my family :)

                We went by yesterday for malasadas and they were out -- at least, they were out until my four-year-old started wailing (yes, I was horrified!) in disappointment. I obviously talked them up too much. The women at the counter gave us some day-olds from the fridge, which was incredibly kind of them. But obviously cold day-olds have none of the spring or texture contrast of fresh baked.

                1. re: bgbc

                  If there were 'funny' and 'cool' flags, i'd click them.

                  I'm glad you hung in there after trying a day old malasada. I might ask to hire your daughter next time I go shopping.

                  1. re: bgbc

                    When I described them, I thought it was orange -- I looked it up and orange zest is one of the flavorings sometimes used in malasadas. It would make sense -- oranges are common in the area where malasadas originated, and they're in season this time of year, when other fruits aren't.

                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                      What area did malassadas originate?

                      1. re: scarmoza

                        they're Portuguese, where they're called filhos. if you run across a church festival with Portuguese parishioners sometimes you can find them going by that name. the term malasadas is used in the 'new world', after they became popular in Hawai'i . [as you might recall, plenty of people eat the Chinese custard tarts and don't know they're also Portuguese in origin].

                        1. re: moto

                          hmmm, that's interesting what you say about the custard tarts, wonder if it's from the Portuguese being in Macau... similar to the Germans in Tsing Tao and the beer.

                          1. re: moto

                            Yeah, I know that filhós/filhozes/filhoses/malassadas are from Portugal but I thought Ruth L knew of the area they originated in Portugal.

                            They're called malassadas on the island of São Miguel, too. That's where a lot of Hawaiian Portuguese descend.

                            Californian-Portuguese who aren't coriscos mal amanhados call them filhós.
                            I'm pretty sure most of Brasil and Canadian-Portuguese call them filhós - so I don't know if it's safe to say that it's used in the 'new world'. Hawaii and parts of Mass - but not everywhere.

                            No one has even mentioned the traditional pumpkin and orange ones made for Christmas.

                            1. re: scarmoza

                              I'm flattered, but no, I'm not an expert on the origins of malasadas. There's a nice wikipedia article, though:

                              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                in that version of the origin story, they came from Madeira, rather than the Azores.

                                1. re: moto

                                  I had read that wiki entry a while ago and never really gave it credit since my friends from Porto Santo, Madeira don't call them malasadas. However, I did come across this very interesting publication that claims documentation from 1762 of "malassadas" being a part of religious festivals at the Convento da Encarnação in Funchal: It's turning out to be a fantastic scholarly read about the history and culture of sugar in the Atlantic islands of the Azores, Madeira, and Canaries

                              2. re: scarmoza

                                yes, acc. to one origin version they come from Sao Miguel, spelled with two s's, yet, on the other eight islands of the Azores they call them filhos. Leonard's on Oahu is the first place known to produce them commercially (founded 1952), though of course earlier commercial attempts might have simply failed to survive for long. Leonard's also uses the single 's' spelling, and might be the main reason for that usage. If there's an impartial Azorean historical source that can pinpoint when and where they began, it might tell us whether they were first known as 'malassadas' or 'filhos'. The Azores, or Madeira, or peninsular Portugal as a maritime culture, had plenty of contact with outside cultures and foods, so they could also be an adaptation from another country altogether.

                                not at all conversant with your beautiful Portuguese language -- what does 'coriscos mal amanhados' translate to ? obrigado.

                        2. re: bgbc

                          the master baker told me today that he had to throw out an entire tray on Ash Wed that weren't sold. they sold out today by noon.

                          .75 is quite reasonable, not much different than the Maui price. the baker is well familiar with the malasada tradition in Hawai'i because that's where his family comes from. said they're regaining traction, business wise, starting over on the mainland after doing well for years in Alameda.

                          1.00 for hot cross buns is also reasonable, and they looked good, plenty of the custard/icing on top. Acc. to my spouse who's sampled many of the area's hot cross buns, the ones at Ladyfingers (about a mile away, corner of Santa Clara and Oakland Ave) are plainer but better.

                          1. re: moto

                            I spent one year trying to buy hot cross buns at ladyfingers and they never had them. For a classic hot cross bun, Virginia Bakery has been consistant over the years.

                            1. re: rworange

                              Ladyfingers is a tiny place and they make 'em in small batches -- we would just inquire when they'd be made and reserve some accordingly. their style isn't as fluffy as Virginia Bakery. there's a pretty big variation from the different bakers, as you well know, so everyone isn't going to be pleased by each version.