Wednesday, April 4th, 2012
Bakeries are so easy to love. All butter cream, sugar and chocolate, they speak to the caloric enabler in each of us. Just one bite, it says. You deserve this, it whispers. And of course, you do. But only if the payoff is worth the price.
Crisp Bake Shop is more than just a pretty case. More than stacks of sea salt chocolate chip cookies, homemade vanilla marshmallows, bacon peanut toffee, white chocolate macarons, green tea cupcakes and brown butter cake with salted creme fraiche caramel and vanilla bean butter cream as soft and light as a lover’s lips.
This is no sugar shack dalliance. Crisp is the bakery you take home to mom.
Opened by chef-partners Moaya Scheiman (Stars, Ramekins, Tamal Vino y Mas SF) and Andrea Koweek (Ramkins instruction, Keller assistant at Per Se, French Laundry, catering director at girl and the fig), the Sonoma bakery rethinks what it is to be a bakery. Sweet and savory are mixed with abandon; cookies are taken as seriously as wedding cakes; egg salad sandwiches cohabitate with chorizo-studded scones; breads are baked fresh each day, but baguettes are banned.
“I couldn’t do that,” said Scheiman, paying homage to the sanctified Artisan Bakers’ location they now occupy. A fan of the longtime bakery (which moved out last September and is now only wholesale), he said, “It would just be a losing battle.”
So instead he makes Kaiser rolls, Philly rolls and other comforting, egg breads of his youth.
“We didn’t want to do a restaurant or a food truck. We wanted to give the community something different,” said Scheiman. So the couple wake up at 4am and bake whatever strikes their imagination.
Their latest creation: A chocolate stout cupcake using next door neighbor Sonoma Brewery’s stout, topped with Kahlua Butter cream and bacon peanut toffee. Yup, it’s even better than it sounds. But cupcakes are just a training ground for their bigger aspirations.
But the bakery’s bread and butter, so to speak, are cakes. As a former catering director in Sonoma, Koweek felt guilty sending locals to Santa Rosa or Napa for their wedding and special event cakes.
With a third partner, they’re turning out towering layer cakes in decidedly unusual flavors like coconut passion fruit, buttermilk orange with lemon butter cream and lime curd; malted cake with Nutella chocolate filling and malt balls or apple spice with butterscotch cream.
Open from 6am to 2pm daily, the small shop has an 8-person table for dining in or drinking coffee or will send you on your way with a neat brown box full of goodies.
“We’re just trying to make people happy,” said Koweek.
With flavors as big as their imagination, Crisp’s future should be a cake walk.
Crisp Bake Shop, 720 West Napa St., Sonoma, (707) 933-9999.