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As Kneaded Is What You Need

Bread pudding (foreground) and bostock (back) from As Kneaded Bakery.

After graduating with an anthropology degree during a recession when jobs were scarce especially for liberal arts majors, Iliana Berkowitz was lucky enough to unearth her true passion in life — baking.

She took a job at a bakery, followed by a stint at a French bistro, all the while honing her bread and pastry skills.

In 2016, she started a bakery pop-up and bread club in the East Bay. Both did so well that in late-2018, she opened an actual brick-and-mortar, her As Kneaded Bakery in San Leandro.

Pain d’epi and honey rye porridge loaf.

It now supplies bread to such restaurants as Flea St. Cafe in Menlo Park and The Alembic in San Francisco. And its loaves sell at a host of stores around the Bay Area, including Bianchini’s Market in San Carlos and Portola Valley; Berkeley Bowl in Berkeley; and Rainbow Grocery in San Francisco; as well as through Good Eggs delivery.

Recently, I had a chance to try samples of the baked goods. As Kneaded Bakery is one of the few places in the Bay Area that makes a bialy. A flatter cousin to the bagel that’s baked not boiled, it’s a chewy delight, especially when its center is filled with sweet caramelized onions and poppy seeds.

A chewy-good bialy (foreground), and an “Everything Knot” (back) with a fluffy texture and taste of onion, garlic, poppy seeds and sesame seeds.

Berkowitz doesn’t believe in sourdough baguettes, so hers are sweet. The epi sports a golden, thin crust and a fluffy interior. It makes a great little sandwich.

If you prefer a little tang, then go for the miche, which like all her breads, is naturally leavened. Made with a sourdough starter, and whole wheat and dark rye flours, it has a long-fermented taste, and a true heartiness.

My favorite — as well as the pick of her customers — is the glorious honey rye porridge loaf. The crust is hardy, but it’s the interior that really gets you. Made with a rye flake porridge, it has a very moist, almost custard-like crumb that you’d be hard pressed to find elsewhere. The honey gives it a subtle sweetness, too. It’s perfect smeared with butter and jam. It’s a bread you just want more and more of.

A sticky bun that is not overly sweet (foreground), and bostock (background) laden with jam and almonds.

The sticky bun, with a swirl of brown sugar and honey, is made with brioche dough, so it’s more fluffy, bread-like in texture than crisp, flaky pastry-like.

Bread pudding varies weekly, sometimes made savory, and sometimes made sweet. I had the latter, made with white chocolate. Warmed up, it’s eggy, custardy and comforting, and not overly sweet.

If you’re a bread fiend like I am, you definitely need to put As Kneaded Bakery on your radar.

Winner of the Food Gal Contest

In last week’s contest, I asked you to tell me what your favorite pan is — and why. The best answer wins a free set of heavy-duty, U.S.-made Proclamation Goods 12-inch pans (valued at about $379).

A 7-quart pot with lid that also comes with a skillet that can also be used as a lid.

Congrats to:

Donna Glass, who wrote: ” I love my 13 inch All-Clad skillet. When I was getting married, my friend Lorraine went with me to create my wedding registry at Williams Sonoma. She is an amazing cook and she said this pan would be my best friend in the kitchen. She was right! I have a husband who LOVES to eat, more than anyone else I know, and a growing boy. I have made our small family many wonderful dinners in that skillet, from my chicken stir fry to Tuscan chicken pasta‚Ķall gobbled up so fast that there are rarely leftovers. When my son is all grown up and leaves home, I will look at that skillet and remember all warm meals it allowed me to make with love over the years.”

For those who didn’t win: If you’d like to buy your own set of Proclamation Goods pans, take $20 off with the coupon code: foodgal.