For half a decade now, the kouign amann has been a staple in San Francisco pastry cases. With origins in Brittany, France, this treat can be thought of as a mix between a palmier cookie and a croissant. At B. Patisserie, chef Belinda Leong has been perfecting her version of this treat, something like a caramelized croissant, for 12 years. Flaky, light, crunchy, gooey, buttery and addictive are all fitting descriptors.
Oakland-based Starter Bakery’s version of the kouign amann, available in San Francisco at Reveille Coffee Co. locations, has its own twist. Like a traditional croissant, the signature pastry is layered with salted butter. But unlike a croissant, it's also layered with sugar and baked in a pan lined with more butter and sugar. The result is buttery, salty, sweet and caramel-y. Varieties are made fresh everyday: traditional, chocolate (made with local TCHO 68 percent) and seasonal fruit.
The Rebel Within
Craftsman and Wolves
The specialty item at this modern patisserie from James- Beard-nominated chef William Werner is a savory breakfast muffin that has asiago cheese, green onion and breakfast sausage baked into the mix and a full soft-cooked farm egg in the center. Praised by GQ and Bon Appetit magazines, it sells out nearly every day.
La Boulangerie de San Francisco
This decadent pastry from the popular local chain starts in the French tradition: A baked plain croissant is cut in half and filled with frangipane (almond cream) before going back in the oven. This version, however, has a slight twist, with extra frangipane and shaved almonds added on top.
This flaky bun is a cult favorite at the internationally famed bakery in the Mission neighborhood. It’s made with laminated croissant dough, which makes for a light and layered interior and a crisp and intensely caramelized exterior, and sugar and cinnamon. Orange zest gives a subtle, fresh tang that balances the buttery sweetness.
Mariposa Baking Company
The most popular pastry at the gluten-free confectionary with a prime outpost in the Ferry Building Marketplace is also free of dairy and nuts. Soft, sweet and cinnamon-y, it’s a perfect breakfast treat.