Often credited as being one of the first to bring the now ubiquitous kouign amann (a traditional Breton pastry layered with obscene amounts of butter) to the Bay Area, Brian Wood has some new tricks up his sleeve. After 12 years of selling at farmers markets, cafes and specialty grocery stores, the head baker and CEO of local favorite Starter Bakery has opened his first cafe in Oakland’s popular Rockridge neighborhood to show them off. The menu will of course feature Starter's signature pastry—which became an instant hit when Starter launched in 2010 and kicked off a national trend—but Wood was excited to introduce a special new lineup of baked goods for cafe goers.
“Customers wanted to know where the cinnamon rolls and morning buns were on the menu,” Wood says. He wanted to feature a flavorful, warming morning pastry that could be an interesting stand-in for the always-in-demand morning bun but felt unique to Starter Bakery.
His answer is the brand-new, exclusive-to-Rockridge cardamom pistachio twist. A viennoiserie (a category of Viennese pastry that includes favorites like croissants, danish and brioche) made from croissant dough, it’s laminated with butter and then folded with even more butter that’s been flavored with cardamom. He’s paired the classic Danish flavor with toasted pistachios, glazed apricot and orange glaze for a deliciously decadent pastry that rivals his famous kouign amann. (Side Note: Wood and the Starter team developed about 20 or so versions of the pastry until they got the flavor and twist shape just right.)
The cardamom pistachio twist has been an instant hit that’s consistently sold out in the short time since the cafe’s opening. Starter’s customers are even calling it their new favorite for its layered flavors and flaky, buttery texture. Cardamom is having a real moment in the food world so it’s no surprise that the twist is already flying off the pastry counter. “Plus, it’s a beautiful pastry that really pops in the case with the shape and finishing we do,” Wood says.