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The Fresh Cruller at Firebrand Artisan Breads Is the Unicorn of Doughnuts

Sometimes scarcity is a blessing.

Gone are the days when Firebrand Artisan Breads was a tiny upstart with little name recognition, apart from a small cult following among sourdough enthusiasts. These days, the Oakland bakery is duking it out with the Acme Breads and Starter Bakeries of the world in terms of sheer every-coffee-shop-in-town ubiquity. Still, there’s something to be said for visiting the bakery’s Uptown mothership, which remains its only retail location—and the only place where Firebrand dabbles in doughnut making. “Things that are fried don’t really travel as well,” cofounder Colleen Orlando explains.

Which is why even as Firebrand’s wholesale pastry operation has blown up, one of its most delicious items—its cruller ($3)—is available only at the bakery proper, Wednesday through Saturday, for a scant couple of hours starting at around 9 a.m. Made by frying pâte à choux dough piped into the rough shape of a figure eight, the doughnuts are a cross between a French cruller and a Mexican churro, lined, as they are, with ridges that catch the crinkly cinnamon-sugar topping. The main pleasures lie in the contrast between the cruller’s exterior crunch and its tender, eggy heart. If you manage to snag one, the scarcity works out to be a blessing: They’re almost always still warm from the fryer. 2343 Broadway (Near 24th St.), Oakland, 510-594-9213


Originally published in the May issue of San Francisco 

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