Starter Bakery By Briar Wood And Jamie Hansen

A Breton pastry dethrones the morning bun

Look out, morning bun: The Bay Area has a new cult-worthy treat.

Starter Bakery's stellar kouign amann is a Breton pastry whose Celtic name means "butter cake." The golden, spherical puck, comprising sugary layers of buttered pastry, is like the love child of a croissant and shortbread.

The new bakery is the joint endeavor of software consultant Jamie Hansen and former San Francisco Baking Institute instructor Brian Wood. Wood, who aptly describes the treat as "pastry crack," first became obsessed with kouign amann a few years ago, while enrolled in classes at Pierre Hermé's cooking school in Paris.

Operating out of a former Blue Bottle Coffee roasting facility on the Emeryville-Oakland border, he concocts several pristine takes: one traditional, one with seasonal fruit, and one packed with melted Tcho chocolate.

Wood also makes a full complement of stellar viennoiserie, from ethereal croissants to bittersweet-rich pain au chocolat. He also makes several crusty artisanal breads.

You can find Starter Bakery's kouign amanns in Oakland at Peaberry's Coffee and Tea, Modern Coffee and Café Gabriela, and on the breakfast menu at Pizzaiolo, as well as at the Albany, Grand Lake and Temescal farmers' markets. Starter Bakery also caters.

Starter Bakery; 510-547-6400 or