6 East Bay Bakeries that Rise to the Top
Chopping, sautéeing, and roasting are easy, but when it comes to baking pastries, breads, and cakes, I’m happy to leave it to the professionals. That leaves more time to roam the East Bay discovering the sweets. Here’s a sample of my favorites from widely acclaimed bakeries and hidden gems alike.
Topping my list at the moment is a classic French canelé from La Noisette in Berkeley (2701 Eighth St #116). It’s crunchy and custardy with fluted edges crisped to caramelized perfection. Heading around the corner, I find myself falling into a mochi donut at the famously innovative Third Culture Bakery (2701 Eighth St). Try the nutty black sesame, which nails the delicate balance between savory and sweet.
When it comes to cheesecake, I don’t want one, I want two. Give me one spongy and tart cheesecake square from Casa Latina (1805 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley) and one square of Vatroushka, a Russian-style cheesecake layered with crumbly curds, sour cream, and vanilla from Crixa Cakes (2748 Adeline St, Berkeley).
I would never think twice about spending a morning with the sugar-crusted mollete, a variety of pan dulce, from Guatemalan bakery Palacio Latino (1873 23rd St, San Pablo) or an afternoon with the olive sourdough bread from Nick’s Pizza (6211 Shattuck Ave, Oakland). The bread’s load of both green and black olives delivers a briny pop that elevates my sandwich game to new levels.
—Story and photos by Meredith Pakier, an Oakland-based professional food and wine nerd