[eat this] Nice Buns

There are days when it seems that the world of morning pastries has been reduced to dry-as-dust croissants and blueberry bagels. And then there’s Crixa Cakes.

An Oasis of Delicious Calm

[Crixa's] display case is filled with wondrous delicacies, like Tiramisu cakes and miniature Boston Cream pies. Seasonal fruits grace flaky tarts and gallettes, while such old-fashioned treats as a Dolly Madison Whim cake are also proffered.
Nobody does tea better. An interesting selection brewed in individual teapots is served up on small silver platters, a lovely little luxury. Add an almond tea cake or a poppyseed rugelach, and even the most looming anxiety attack can be successfully navigated. You can also choose from an array of coffee and espresso drinks…

These are excerpts from a review entitled, Let Us Eat Cake: Berkeley Baker Serves Up Sweet Teatime Treats by Patti Dacey, originally published in the Berkeley Daily Planet, April 1, 2003.

And it all tastes as good as it looks

The display case at Crixa features a rotating, though always marvelous, multi-ethnic selection of pies, cakes, tarts, cookies, rolls, and pastries. Miniature Boston Cream pies, Poppy seed rugelach, flourless chocolate cake, thick slices of moist ginger cake, cherry-pink Hungarian Puncs Torta, New Orleans Bourbon Cake, Lemon Cream cakes adorned with white flowers, sweet Russian tea buns, sugared crescents of tender kifli, and lovely spheres of vanilla meringue with cream are among the numerous options available, all reasonably priced from two to five dollars. And it all tastes as good as it looks.
Read more about gastronomic covetousness and the impending battle for pie in the Daily Californian review of Crixa, Mmm…Cake, by Connie Lee, published November 9, 2006.

Apple Pie Number One Overall Favorite

These are excerpts from How D’ya Like Them Apples? by Michelle Turner, originally published in The Monthly, June, 2003. Reprinted by permission.

Taste tests have become something of a tradition here at The Monthly. Last year, we happily sampled barbecued pork ribs, and since passions run high about barbecue and how it should be prepared, it turned into a very lively forum. This year, when it was decided that fruit pie would be on the menu, I thought, well, pies are nice, but ho-hum.

Who would’ve thought that pie – sweet, friendly, innocent pie – would inspire such heated debate?

Turns out pie is indeed controversial. Everyone, it seems, has very clear ideas about what should go in the middle of a pie shell. Our first tangle was over type. The fruit had to be in season for both our April tasting and for our June publication date. That eliminated cherry, berry, and peach.

We settled on good old apple. Although primarily harvested in winter, apples are easily stored and available year-round. Apple pie can be found in most bakeries and, unlike, say, strawberry-rhubarb, everyone at least likes apple pie.

Apple pie occupies a special place in American culture. We’ve all been endlessly reminded of its partnership with other icons of Americana – baseball, hot dogs, etc. – but, really, where pie is concerned, the cliché is apt. Baseball may leave you cheerless, hot dogs may turn your stomach, but everyone can get behind dessert.

Still, loving apple pie wasn’t enough. We needed an authority, someone who could speak expertly, not just loudly, on the subject. Alan Tangren, one of the pastry chefs at Chez Panisse, graciously agreed to step up to the plate, as it were, and serve as our resident pie expert.

He and our 11 volunteer judges were in for some surprises.

Best Bakery

win120x90.gifThank you East Bay Express for voting us Best Bakery in your Best of the East Bay 2004 May 5 edition.
…Crixa draws nostalgically on Austro-Hungarian baking and cafe-society traditions, giving the brick-walled place a bygone-Budapest ambience.

Best Desserts

Thank you East Bay Express for voting us Best Desserts in your Best of the East Bay 2008 June 25 edition.
The Cherub Pie, an unforgettable blend of sour cherries and rhubarb enveloped by a buttery crust, is one of the menu’s highlights, and the Soprano Tiramisu (the classic Italian delicacy with a layer of dark chocolate mousse) is heaven for a chocoholic. If for no other reason than to say the name, order a cup of coffee and Fatima’s Thigh, a crumbly, powdered-sugar-covered roll stuffed with rosewater-soaked almonds and currants.

Best Pastries

Thank you East Bay Express for voting us Best Pastries in your Best of the East Bay 2006 May 3 edition.
With desserts being a sin, there are some who want to grovel in their decadence, abasing themselves with dense three-chocolate cakes globbed over in chocolate sauce and canned whipped cream. Some of us, though, prefer a road to perdition paved with lace and rose petals.

Cakespy finds Crixa

Cakespy, a team of cake gumshoes seeking sweetness (literally) in everyday life, discovered Crixa Cakes on a recent trip to the East Bay.
First Stop: Crixa Cakes, which may also be known as cake heaven…My only warning is take your treat to go, or you may never leave.


Crixa in sf bay area

Everything here is made from scratch, just steps away from the counter. And if you’ve never had a Bizet with Cream, step right up. It’s calling your name.
Read more about Crixa Cakes and other San Francisco Bay Area locally owned eating and shopping establishments in the new 2nd edition of the SF Bay Area guide, by Jon Hart, published October, 2007.

I felt like I dropped into a fantasy book

Ayaki Shiina has written a guide for Japanese tourists in California called, California Gopan. The well-designed book is packed with informative food reviews and great photographs.
These are excerpts of her review of Crixa Cakes,
About our Bizet,
The cream between meringue has a very gentle sweetness and goes well with the sugar flavor of the meringue. It’s so great to let them melt in your mouth together. The meringue, crispy outside and chewy inside has different textures, both please me so much.


Ineffable Richness

These are excerpts from a review entitled, Operation Dessert Storm by Anneli Rufus, originally published in the East Bay Express, November 12, 2003.
…shiny festoons of copper molds shaped like lobsters, chickens, rings, and fish lend a ruddy blush to this roomy bakery-cafe with ample seating both indoors and, in good weather, out. Glassed-in shelves bear cakes whose ineffable richness makes choosing feel absurdly Herculean, as if asked to pick a winner among epics. Daily specials and regular fare ranges from puddingy fruit clafoutis to seedy rolled rugelach to dense fresh-ginger cake that bites back to little chocolate pies that look like Ding Dongs but are a far cry.


Lascivious Desires

These are excerpts from a review entitled, Chocolate stokes Bay Area’s ‘lascivious desires’ by John Birdsall, originally published in the Contra Costa County Times, February 9, 2005. Contra Costa Times web site version of this article requires free registration. Reprinted by permission.
ALL THAT BUZZ about oysters, caviar and Spanish fly notwithstanding, it’s chocolate that is everyone’s favorite aphrodisiac. Since it seeped into Europe from Central America in the 1500s (and from Europe to North America), chocolate has been synonymous with pleasure and vice, a dangerous stimulus, according to one 17th-century Spanish cleric, to “lascivious desires.” Here in the Bay Area, we take our lascivious desires very seriously, and here, arguably like nowhere else in the country, chocolate is serious business. And checking in with local pastry chefs, it’s clear that Feb. 14 will be a day of serious chocolate-smudged venery.


Not Overly Sweet but Sweet Enough

I AM NOT WHAT ONE WOULD CALL A CHOCOHOLIC. I don’t get a sense that chocolate gives me a high or turns me on, which it apparently does for others, and for the most part, I can take it or leave it. Except, that is, for one creation from Crixa Cakes in Berkeley.
The cake looks plain and is unadorned except for a powdering of confectioners’ sugar, but it’s surprisingly moist, wearing the name Pavé Vergiate…on a tag that describes it as a flourless chocolate cake made with, yes, chocolate, plus butter and eggs. Not overly sweet but sweet enough to contrast well with coffee, the cake has a lingering, rich chocolate aftertaste and comes with a side of cream.