Many people have been baking during the pandemic, but for Angelenos who are not great at making breads and pastries at home or are weary of doing it themselves, LA has many European-style bakeries worth supporting. KCRW’s Evan Kleiman gives her recommendations. Bakeries from other traditions will be covered soon.
Bread Lounge - DTLA
Ran Zimon offers an expansive inventory of pastries, breads, and cafe savories by way of Israel. Look for Jerusalem bagels, loaf cakes, challah.
Friends and Family - Hollywood
Owners Roxana Jullapat and Dan Mattern each do what they do best. As one of the new grain movement zealots, Roxana is known for using locally grown grain in her breads and pastries. She literally fills the pastry case and bread shelf with her heart. Dan is a talented chef whose to-go case always tempts Kleiman. His fried chicken is a favorite with one of his creative kale slaws.
Little Flower - Pasadena
Christine Moore’s Lincoln may be closed, but her original Little Flower is once again open. It serves breakfast, lunch and take-away dinners, plus those caramels. Stock your fridge with ready-made chicken salad and a bottle of one the best buttermilk ranch dressings ever.
Lodge Bread - Culver City
Alex Phaeneuf and Or Amsalam combine freshly milled grain and natural yeasts into phenomenal loaves that accompany farmers market-based salads and sandwiches. There’s also Hasiba hummus and pita as a bonus.
They also sell some of the best eggs Kleiman has had in awhile.
Proof - Atwater
This is where to buy brioche and croissants. Na Young Ma has cracked the code to buttery happiness. It’s as fine a collection of pastries as you would find anywhere. Eat the dessert but buy a sandwich for later.
For the dough
- 1 cup milk
- 1 stick butter salted or unsalted
- 1/3 cup honey or sugar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons instant dry yeast
- 2 eggs slightly beaten
- 3.5 cups AP flour or 438 gms
For the topping
- 1 cup dark brown sugar
- 1/4 cup corn syrup Light Karo
- 1 stick butter salted or unsalted
- 3 tbsp cocoa powder optional
- 2 cups pecans
- 1/2 stick butter melted
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 2 tbsp cocoa powder optional
Make the dough
- You may mix this soft dough by hand or in a standing mixer with the paddle attachment.
- Pour milk into a mixing bowl. Melt butter on the stove or in the microwave. Pour hot melted butter into the milk. Add the honey, salt, yeast and eggs. Use whisk to mix together. Do not beat or froth.
- Add the flour and stir to mix with a wooden spoon or your hands. If a stubborn amount of flour remains, then wet your hands and mix in the last bit. If using a mixer, mix just until flour is incorporated. Do not knead. The dough will be soft.
- Scrape down the dough from the sides of the bowl and incorporate it into the dough mass. Cover the bowl and let the dough rise until it doubles, about 1-2 hours. The dough will be much easier to work with if you refrigerate it at this point. Let it sit in the refrigerator for at least a few hours or overnight.
- Meanwhile, prepare the topping.
Prepare the topping
- Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Add the corn syrup and the brown sugar and stir. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally to mix. Once the mixture comes to a boil allow it to cook for 1 minute. Immediately pour it into two 8 or 9 inch cake pans. Top the syrup with the pecans. Set aside while you prepare the buns once the dough is ready.
Make the buns
- Remove the risen dough from the bowl and knead it a few times to bring it together. Divide it in half.
- Roll out each piece of dough into a 9" by 14" rectangle. Mix the sugar and cinnamon together. Add cocoa powder if using. Brush lightly with melted butter. Sprinkle half the cinnamon-sugar over each dough rectangle.
- For small buns, roll the dough up as for a jelly roll with the long side of the rectangle facing you. For large buns, roll up the dough starting with the short side. Pinch the edges closed to seal.
- Cut the buns into 1 to 1 1/2" pieces and arrange them on the prepared topping. Cover the pans and let buns rise until doubled in bulk about 1 hour. You may let them rest overnight in the refrigerator and bake them in the morning.