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Cakewalk Special: Seeking Sweetness in the Bay Area with a Professional Pastry Chef

Tartine, San Francisco
Recently, Cake Gumshoe Chris went to the Bay Area, and documented the bakeries she visited. Why should you care? Well, turns out Chris is not just any lover of sweets: she's a talented pastry chef herself, having churned out desserts in Wolfgang Puck's kitchens during her many years spent in Los Angeles. Luckily for us, now she's in Seattle--you may have sampled her goods at Remedy Teas (killer tea cookies!). Basically she knows a whole lot about desserts--and as such, her standards are...shall we say, high. So if she says it's good, we listen. On her recent trip to the Bay Area, here's what she saw, tasted, and adored (or deplored):

Bakesale Betty: A delightfully retro-kitsch spot in a becoming-gentrified part of Oakland, Bakesale Betty features old-timey desserts, but with a twist: the owner hails from Australia, so amongst the classic cookies and pies, you'll find pleasing pavlovas, Lamingtons, and other Aussie-inspired treats. And owner Alison Barakat has done her homework too--after having moved to the states she paid her baking dues by working at Chez Panisse for three years (oh, and by the way, we hear she has electric blue hair. Cool!). Forget Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman, these are the imports we're all over. 5098 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, 510.985.1213; they can also be found at the Temescal Farmers' Market from 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. on Sundays, Located in the DMV parking lot on Claremont Ave., Oakland; online at bakesalebetty.com.

Bette's Oceanview Diner: While this place drew Chris in with their adorable dog-shaped cookies, the taste was bland to her; however, even the cuteness couldn't save them for her, although she does relent on one point, saying that they came apart with a satisfying "snap". The rest of us aren't sure though--we think we might be able to power through one or five of these cute little cookies.


However, we wouldn't discount this spot: as Cake Gumshoe Nora adds, there's a bevy of other tasty baked goods, including delicious and deceivingly light-tasting scones (the Raisin Scone is highly recommended), a "first-class" Hazelnut Biscotti, and a simple but lovely Almond Teacake ideal for pairing with a cup of tea or coffee. Sounds good to us! 1807A Fourth St., Berkeley. 

La Boulange: With several locations throughout the Bay Area, La Boulange is an upscale sandwich shop / bakery; while the sandwiches all look wonderful, Chris reports that some of the pastries are better than others. She and a companion chose a cannelé and a fruit-studded crumb cake; while they found the cannelé mouthwatering, the crumb cake was only so-so. And as we all know, nothing's worse than a bummer cake. Say it in your most mobster-y voice: "Leave the gun. Take the cannelé." As a side note, they had adorable dishesLa Boulange, various locations; online at baybread.com.


Tartine: Ready for gougères the size of your head, creamy lemon tarts to tantalize the taste buds, and meringues that just might make you a believer? We thought so. Time to head over to Tartine, which not only did Chris love, but several of our other Cake Gumshoes count it as a favorite too! Also, as one of our buddies EB at Spicedish tells us, they get extra cuteness points for delivering bread between locations via Radio Flyer. 600 Guerrero St. (@18th Street), SF; (415) 487-2600; online at tartinebakery.com.

Chris also tried to hit up Miette Confiserie (check out our interview with the owners here!), but they were sadly closed when she tried to get her sweet on. Nonetheless, we still love both locations--have you ever seen a more beautiful princess cake than the one they sell at their ferry building location? But if you aren't able to hit them up you can get a sweet fix anywhere in the US--they ship several of their less-perishable candies by mail. Online at miettecakes.com.

Of course, we would be remiss if we didn't mention Rose & Radish, an upscale and cute as a button gift shop. Though many of their offerings are (alas) devoid of sugar and calories, they are no less sweet: we have our eye on these adorable cupcake jars which Chris spied in their window. Oh yes. 460 Gough St., SF, (415) 864-4988.


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Reader Comments (43)

Another delicious post! I'll be passing along the tips to my bay area friends :)

April 8 | Unregistered CommenterRecipeGirl

Love to taste the first tart. Looks so ood

April 9 | Unregistered CommenterHappy cook

Tartine also has lovely fresh breads for sale after 5pm Wednesday through Sunday! Mmm mmm.

I'm heading there at the end of the month - I can taste the fun already!

Oh yay! It's so good to see Australian treats in the US. Pavlova is one of my favorite desserts and lamingtons take me back to my childhood. They were always one of the things sold at schools etc to raise money. Mmmm bake sales. *fades into the past*

Wow, how lucky is she and how jealous am I! Can I work for you? can you send me out on an assigment like that?

April 9 | Unregistered CommenterAran

YUM! I wish I had a trip to the Bay Area coming up. Jealous!

April 9 | Unregistered CommenterRachel

I just did a mini-review of some cupcakes at some patisseries in the bay area too! I went to La boulange but was not impressed that much - sad but I was so excited. Tartine is always a favorite...I got several items (croissants, tart, chocolate tea cake,banana bread, lemon bar) and they were all delicious. I went to Miette Patisserie at the Ferry bldng and the Confisserie at the Hayes Valley location and they were all so cute and relatively good...
so yes overall, Tartine is still the best and is a must visit for any serious pastry lover!

April 9 | Unregistered CommenterVeron

Well, they may not have tasted the best, but those dog cookies are definitely my favorite. :)

PS LOVED the artwork you did for Test Drive Kitchen!!

April 9 | Unregistered CommenterRicki

a so-so cake? say it ain't so! how tragic.
and those dog cookies are indeed cute, but if their only redeeming quality is a satisfying snap, i'd have to pass. are you sure they weren't actually intended for dogs? ;)

i hate let-downs like that.

April 9 | Unregistered CommenterGrace

Tartine is the BOMB! :-)

April 9 | Unregistered CommenterAnn

Yummy looking cakes but telling us to forget Hugh Jackman???? Possibly a step too far!


RecipeGirl: And pass on any tips from them back to us! :-)

Happy Cook: Me too!!

Melisser: That place sounds totally awesome. And if their products (well, the non dairy ones) get a vegan stamp of approval, well, dammit, we love 'em even more!

T.W. Barritt: Ooh, can't wait to see your own Cakewalk! I hope you will be eating only mini bundt cakes, wouldn't that be a challenge! :-)

Jade: Yay! Happy to bring back some memories. Sounds like Bakesale Betty is bringing on the revolution !

Rachel: Yeah, doesn't it all look so delicious!?

Veron: Yeah, based on what Chris said, La Boulange was a mixed review. And Tartine sounds so fantastic-- I (Jessie) have never been there myself but everyone says I must!

Ricki: Aren't they cute! I don't want to believe they didn't taste good. Oh and thank you for the kind words about the art--Karen is--no joke--the kindest and best customer--I couldn't have imagined a more fun person to work on that with and for.

Grace: You know, if they were meant for dogs that might explain a lot...their biscuit-like snapping...uh oh... :-) And I agree--nothing worse than a bummer pastry.

Ann: So I hear! Must visit!

Caked Crusader: You know, I just saw a shirtless pic of him and you're right, maybe that was hasty...

April 9 | Unregistered CommenterCakespy

Sorry, forgot to respond to Aran! Aran, you send us the bakeries you like and we'll do a Cakewalk, baby!

April 9 | Unregistered CommenterCakespy

I love those cupcake jars too!! Super duper cute.. I think you need them... and then I can just be jealous!! :O)

April 9 | Unregistered CommenterSweet Sins

Ahh those jars are awesome!

love the jars too!

i wish i lived in the bay area...but alas, i sent the post to my san fran friends!

hope all is well, j!

April 9 | Unregistered Commenterscoopalicious

OMG those Tartine pics are KILLING me. Wonder if I can convince work to send me to San Fran... must begin plotting. NOW.

I’m tagging you for a Six Word Memoir! Hope you play!

1. Write your own six-word memoir.
2. Post it on your blog (and include a visual illustration if you’d like).
3. Link to the person who tagged you in your post.
4. Tag five more blogs with links.
5. Remember to leave a comment on the tagged blogs with an invitation to play.


I have always wanted to go to Tartine - and the Bay Area for that matter!

April 9 | Unregistered CommenterDeborah

No love for Citizen Cupcake? It's one of my favorite places in San Francisco. :)

April 9 | Unregistered CommenterOwl Chick

Those dog shaped cookies are so cute!

omg i NEED those cupcake jars.

and shhhhh you didn't hear about spy milk from me....


April 9 | Unregistered Commentershannie cakes

I clicked on the last link... Why, Oh why did I click on the last link? Now I want, no, need all of those cute little jars and everything else on that site! :)

April 9 | Unregistered CommenterLyB

Yumm so many delicious things!

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