Three of my favorite Bay Area bakeries make absolutely sublime morning buns, so this weekend I set out on a mission to determine which one was "the best." In other words, I had a craving and needed an excuse to indulge. What I found were three equally delicious versions of the classic pastry -- each characteristically unique to its bakery. Morning buns are a cross between a cinnamon roll and a croissant. Made with croissant dough, they are a spectacular indulgence -- especially on a chilly morning with a cappuccino.
Tartine Bakery & Cafe - 600 Guerrero Street, San Francisco, CA
I began with the top contender from my favorite San Francisco bakery, Tartine Bakery & Cafe. The Tartine morning bun is, quite literally, a heavy weight. It was the largest, most dense, most evenly covered in coarse sugar, and most expensive of the three (at $4.20). But it is worth every penny and every calorie due to the addition of candied orange zest and its beautifully crisp, caramelized inner swirls. I always return to Tartine for this sinfully good morning bun.
Tartine occupies the corner of a quintessential San Francisco neighborhood. Serious Eats wrote "An Insider's Guide to Tartine Bakery in San Francisco," which meticulously posts photos and descriptions of Tartine's menu items so you can prepare for your visit. If you are an ambitious home baker and want to try to replicate Tartine's morning buns, 7x7 Magazine published the recipe here.
La Farine - 6323 College Avenue, Oakland, CA
La Farine's morning bun is spectacular. It has a perfect ratio of brown sugar and cinnamon and, in contrast to Tartine's, it's morning bun is a little more rustic and made me feel slightly less guilty. It also was a mere $2.25.
My palate also picked up a hint of apple flavor on the inner swirl. The La Farine website doesn't mention apple as an ingredient. Instead they describe it as "Croissant dough rolled thin, spread with brown sugar and cinnamon, rolled into a log, then cut and baked in muffin pans…nothing short of decadent."
La Farine is a charming boulangerie and patisserie with two Oakland locations. The one I prefer is located on College Avenue next to Wood Tavern and right on the Berkeley city limits. It feels like a classic French bakery with its petite but charming interior and traditional French breads. I love stopping by for baguettes or a dessert to serve at a dinner party.
Fournée Bakery - 2912 Domingo Avenue, Berkeley, CA
Fournée Bakery's morning bun is so flaky that as I opened the bun, the wispy layers of croissant fell away and beckoned to be consumed slowly and mindfully. The light dusting of super fine sugar and Ceylon Cinnamon produce an incredibly elegant morning bun. This was the most refined of the three and only $2.75.
The morning bun is only one of the amazing artisan pastries this tiny bakery produces. I love Fournée's Ham and Egg Croissant, Chocolate Almond Croissant, and the seasonal Apple Tarte Tatin -- the very best I have ever had.
Fourné opened in 2013 and has stolen my heart. It is located at the foot of the Claremont Hotel on a lovely block near Rick and Ann's Restaurant and Amphora Nueva -- a store selling bulk olive oil and vinegar from around the world.