The colorful silvanas at House of Silvanas are a Filipino treat. (Lawrence K. Ho, Los Angeles…)
Pastry obsessives might have an affinity for layer cakes, fruit tarts or croissants, and may even know where to score kouign amann (the caramelized Breton pastry). Filipino silvanas and Danishes by way of Taiwan are probably a taller order. How about warm Persian sangak slathered with cultured cream and honey? Or the Chilean cake brazo de reina filled with dulce de leche? Here are some bakeries from recent Find columns at which to get your beyond-chocolate-chip-cookies fix.
—Linda Burum, Miles Clements, Betty Hallock and C. Thi Nguyen
Chilenazo Baker Ruben Villaruel is baking more than Chilenazo's sturdy buns — the foundation of the Chilean cafe's hefty sandwiches. Villaruel arrives early each morning to start the sandwich buns, the pan amasado that comes with every meal and the buttery hallullas sold to go. He then moves on to overstuffed, thin-crusted empanadas and the Euro-influenced Chilean-style desserts displayed in glass cases in the dining room. Among the goodies is brazo de reina, an egg-rich cake rolled around manjar, the gooey caramelized milk elsewhere known as dulce de leche. The dessert you should not miss (served only on weekends) is the Berliner. A cousin of Italian zeppole, the burger-bun-shaped, yeast-raised fried pastry — filled either with fluffy custard, fruit jam or manjar — is bliss incarnate.
7238 Canoga Ave., Canoga Park, (818) 887-0269, http://www.chilenazo.net. Open 11:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. (or until closing) Tuesdays to Sundays.
Asal Bakery & Kabob The warm sangak, a floppy, chewy yard-long sesame-encrusted flatbread pulled from the fiery depths of a floor-to-ceiling oven at this Woodland Hills Persian cafe and bakery, is what everyone's lined up for. Whether soaked with kebab juices at dinner or slathered with cultured cream and honey for breakfast, the lightly singed sourdough breads, slightly puffy with steam, serve as the heart of every meal here (sangak is to Iranians what baguettes are to the French).
20008 Ventura Blvd., Woodland Hills; (818) 436-2353. Open 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.
85C It's always a wild scene at 85C, a coffee shop, bakery and patisserie in Irvine. From morning through evening, hundreds of customers pour through its doors and heap their trays high with a fantastical array of baked goods and the sea salt lattes that helped to popularize this Taiwanese cafe. Despite the allure of 85C's iced cakes and pastries, most eat-in customers get the sweets made from yeasted doughs that are lighter (but often larger) than a standard butter- or shortening-laced Danish-style pastry or croissant. At their best when slightly warm are the boroh cream Danish (named in Cantonese for its pineapple shape — there is no pineapple flavor), a grapefruit-sized, almond-covered ball of sweet bread with a smooth almond-flavored-milk-and-butter filling and the brioche-like milk pudding whose creamy vanilla center is a close cousin to Beard Papa's cream puff filling. Ditto for the exceptionally popular 85C rose cheese, a fragrant, meltingly delicious cranberry-studded mauve-and-white dome of sweet bread of nearly soccer ball proportions holding a lightly whipped cheese cream — easily enough for three or four to share.
2700 Alton Parkway, No. 123 (Diamond Jamboree Shopping Center), Irvine; (949) 553-8585; 85cbakerycafe.com. Open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 7 a.m. to midnight Fridays and Saturdays, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays.
House of Silvanas Crisp, impossibly airy cookies served straight from the freezer, their centers stuffed with slick buttercream, seem almost Space Age. They're somehow sturdy and weightless. They dissolve the second they touch your tongue. These otherworldly treats are silvanas, colorful and classic Filipino cookies that could easily be mistaken for oversized French macarons. Silvanas remain the bake shop's hallmark. The mystery of the cookies is revealed in their deconstruction: a layer of flavored buttercream is sandwiched between a pair of cashew-meringue wafers that are coated in tiny cookie crumbs. The puck-sized indulgences are available in seven color-coded flavors: ube, buko-pandan, chocolate, strawberry, mango, mocha and plain buttercream.
4716 Fountain Ave. (inside Adobo Grill), Los Angeles; (323) 667-9752; http://www.houseofsilvanas.com. Open 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.
Rollie's Bakery Cafe The wall of sweets inside this Tustin Bolivian cafe — a collection of shell-shaped conchas, rows of cinnamon-crusted confections and a group of fluorescent pink pastries — attests to its parallel existence as part Mexican panaderia. But don't miss the saltenas. The Bolivian sibling of empanadas, saltenas inevitably recall footballs — braided dough sutures their centers like sets of laces; crusts are glazed to a sugary patina. Inside is a finely spiced mix of ground beef and chicken, peas, potatoes, slivers of hard-boiled egg, olives and raisins. The best time to order from the Mexican menu is at breakfast, when you can bag a still-warm pastry to pair with a plate of chilaquiles. And Rollie's pours some Bolivian beverages, including mocochinchi, a quenching cinnamon-infused drink made from cooked, dehydrated peaches; and api, thick and cider-like.
14071 Newport Ave., Tustin, (714) 669-8300. Open 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesdays to Sundays.