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Becky Duffett

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Bake Sum Rains Purple Pineapple Buns on the Bay

The sweet new bakery is pumping it up with ube, yuzu, and more fresh fillings

For all those who could use a pretty box of pastries as a pick-me-up after six months of whatever this year has been, here’s a sweet project that has risen from the ashes of the pandemic. Bake Sum is a new bakery that layers buttery French techniques and fresh Asian flavors, boxing up croissants, mochi bites, and pineapple buns, tinted in green matcha, purple ube, and black sesame hues. “Given that the pandemic happened, our bakery concept is centered around giving people prepackaged boxes of deliciousness, that we do every single weekend,” says baker Joyce Tang.

This new venture is an equal partnership from local bakers Tang and Elaine Lau, who have already been working behind the scenes for some of your favorite tea and coffee shops. Tang founded a wholesale bakery called Chinoiserie, and prior to the pandemic, supplied the pastries for Boba Guys, Equator Coffee, the Asian Art Museum, and more. She’s a career changer, who worked in tech at Google and Facebook, before enrolling in the San Francisco Cooking School and externing with the famed three-star Celler de Can Roca in Spain (while pregnant). Lau went to the Culinary Institute at Greystone in wine country, and has baked and cooked at Cafe Attila, Manresa, and Nico.

So both are classically trained in French pastry methods, but grew up in the Bay Area, raised on snacks from Cantonese and Hong Kong–style bakeries. They describe their pastry box as “a fun play on some of the Asian treats that we had when we were younger,” Lau says. For example, “There’s a bun in the box that’s a play on the pineapple bun, but we change out the flavors every two weeks or so, filled with different custards and creams.”

Yuzu meringue croissants from Bake Sum Bake Sum
Ube pineapple buns from Bake Sum Bake Sum

The box includes several different types of pastries, including croissants, buns, tea cakes, and mochi bites. A savory croissant takes inspiration from musubi with layers of spam and seaweed and a sprinkle of togarashi. A sweet croissant is rolled in sugar and might be filled with yuzu custard and topped with torched meringue. The most popular version of the pineapple bun, so far, is pumped up with ube, that ultraviolet purple yam. “There’s a large cult following for ube in the Bay Area,” Tang says. “When folks see pastries with ube in it, there’s a sizable contingent that gets excited.”

Bake Sum will be doing a combo of wholesale, takeout, and just a pinch of delivery. So you might spot those pretty pastries around town at markets and coffee shops, starting with Grand Coffee in the Mission, Magnolia Mini Mart in Oakland, and Red Giant Coffee Roasters in Redwood City (the bakery has respectfully parted ways with Boba Guys, who seem like a complicated partner these days).

Pastry fans can also preorder online to pick up directly from the bakery on Fridays or Saturdays, but note that this is their last weekend working out of the Bayview, so moving forward pickups will be available in the Mission or from its new location inside Berkeley’s Bread Project. And there is one delivery option — if you order five boxes, they’ll bring your order to you. Which sounds like a sweet way to support a new bakery, as well as win friends and influence neighbors.

Joyce Tang and Elaine Lau from Bake Sum Bake Sum

Bake Sum

1615 University Ave, Berkeley, CA

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