From brioche to croissants and croissants, Gaby Lubaba baked goods are putting Danville on the map
Do you remember when the introduction of the cronut caused people to panic? People line up for the evening news. Combining croissants and donuts was a novelty at the time (2013!), but this once-rare baked treat has since become extinct. Sometimes I’ve seen cronut, or a relative of cronut, at only one donut shop in the Bay Area–and nothing quite like it in bakeries.
Now, there is a croffle, that is, a croissant in addition to a waffle. These sweet, pressed pastries don’t inspire the same sense of dread as the Cronut—no streaks in sight when I grabbed one—but they are very good. After trying three of them in different bakeries, I still couldn’t discover much of the essence of croissants in them. I taste 95% waffle, which is not a bad thing.
Last weekend I tried my third filling at East Bay Bakery. It is based in Danville – a town rarely referred to as a culinary hub – where claiming the name of an entire area seems inconsequential. But after spending several years at farmers markets in the Bay Area, Gaby Lubaba opened her first store there. Thanks to bread and pastries, 2022 could be the year you put Danville on the Michelin map.
In addition to the croffle, the Lubaba brioche is worth the drive. Folding rolls sell as a crown or loaf. On Saturday, the dough was also used as the basis for chocolate brioche and brioche pancakes. The chocolate brioche was as light as a cotton ball. Chocolate chips spread all over the cake. Its ventilation provided a refreshing counterpoint to bakeries that carry only croissants.
The strawberry tart (which is akin to the Danish) has an unexpected layer of bright floral strawberry jam. Although the color and consistency made me think it was jelly. Whether it’s jam or jelly, brioche is the perfect container to hold pastry cream and toasted strawberries, too. The countertop also displayed a tart of tempting apricots which I had to try before the pit fruit was out of season.
Like Bay Area bakeries Sweet Condesa, Sunday Bakeshop, and Bake Sum, Lubaba offers Asian flavors in European and American pastries and cakes. On a rotating basis, she makes, among many other items, báhn mí Danish with meatballs, daikon, carrots, and cilantro; Chiffon pandan cake. Malaysian Potato Curry Puff; and kue putu mayang, a steamed rice flour cake served with coconut and palm sugar.
Lubaba’s delicious flavors are also excellent. Sweet and savory garlic cheesecake. Without knowing the exact ingredients, its taste is similar to that of Parmesan baked in dough. The cake is then filled with delicately sweetened farmer’s cheese. I waited, with anticipation, for a clash of sweet and savory flavours, but lobaba balances it out. They also make delicious cheese croissants that aren’t a salt bomb.
Of the range of basket sized desserts that I tried, only the raspberry cake looked obedient and sober. Nothing unpleasant about it, not too dry, but also lacking the same amount of vim as everything else I took home. East Bay Bakery is located in a mall and has no tables inside or outside. Although there is a Starbucks nearby with a patio. Most of the space is in the kitchen, including refrigerators, ovens, and bakers busy mixing and chopping ingredients.
The mall itself is around the corner from miles and miles of suburban housing. Having only been opened for two weeks, Lubaba has yet to paint or decorate the interior. The bakery still feels like a commercial kitchen with an elongated temporary countertop that draws the line between customers and employees.
The cashier who sent the order was glad that he got a summer job with Lubaba. When she was interviewed for the position, she admitted that she had no professional experience in baking – it was just a hobby she was passionate about. The new intern felt fortunate to learn from one of her fellow bakers who had previously worked at a Michelin-starred restaurant.
When the deal ended, I walked out to see that the streak had since formed. One excited lady opened the door for us and sighed, “Finally!” before he catches me to enter. I had to allay her fears. There were a lot of croffles left.
East Bay Bakery, open Wednesday through Sunday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. 9000 Crow Canyon Road, Danville. theeastbaybakery.com