(credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
The eight-day festival of Passover begins in the evening of April 10 and ends in the evening of April 18. Derived from the Hebrew word Pesach, this significant Jewish holiday commemorates Exodus, the freedom of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. An important part of the customs observed during Pesach is to avoid leavened foods known as chametz – any product made from the five major grains that are combined with water and left to stand for more than 18 minutes. Instead, members of the Jewish community can eat matzah, vegetables dipped in water, bitter herbs, gefilte fish and other delicious dishes, particularly kosher desserts. If you are getting ready to prepare a sumptuous Passover Seder but need some festive treats, here is a look at five of the best San Francisco bakeries for Passover desserts.
248 Fillmore St.
San Francisco, CA 94117
Having been named by Zagat as one of the hottest new bakeries in the Bay Area, Choux Bakery has received widespread praise since opening last August. While no traditional treats served over Passover are offered here, this authentic French pastry shop creates extraordinary French cream puffs using kosher ingredients. Choux Bakery offers 12 unique flavors from both a permanent collection of nine artisanal cream puffs named after friends and supporters and three more in the equally remarkable holiday collection. Led by the talented owner and “Cream Puff Specialist” Laura Athuil and her team of outstanding bakers, Choux Bakery creates these marvelous treats daily and also sells chouquettes (hollow cream puffs), espresso, coffee, French hot chocolate and tea.
San Francisco, CA 94121
If you plan to serve a nice kosher cake over the Passover holidays, Have Your Cake is the place to order from in San Francisco. One of the few few certified kosher bakeries in the Bay Area, the business is owned by Maralyn Tabatsky, whose array of intricately designed cakes are created with family recipes using dairy or non-dairy products. Cake orders are by appointment only, with prices based upon size and design and advance notice for orders are required. Have Your Cake also offers hand-decorated cookies or wonderfully crafted petits fours.
5030 Geary Blvd.
San Francisco, CA 94118
Best known for serving delicious New York-style bagels, the House of Bagels also offers a number of delicious treats commonly enjoyed at a Passover Seder. Traditional favorites like macaroons, mandelbrot cookies and rugalah can all be purchased at this award-winning bakery, as well as artisan breads like challah and marble rye. In business in San Francisco for more than 50 years, the House of Bagels has used its famous recipe ever since its opening – made from scratch, boiled in water then baked on stone – and now offers nearly 30 varieties. Located in the Inner Richmond district, the House of Bagels also has an award-winning deli and a grocery section, selling some of the most favorite kosher brands and foods, including Tabatchnick soups, King David matzos and Streit’s matzo ball mix.
4073 24th St.
San Francisco, CA 94114
Noe Valley Bakery creates a variety of handcrafted breads, pastries and other tasty treats, including desserts, for Passover. With a special section on the award-winning bakery’s website reserved for holidays, the Passover link lists five delectable treats – a flourless fruit tart, flourless chocolate cake, coconut macaroons, chocolate dipped coconut macaroons and almond macaroons. The popular bakery frequently mentioned among the city’s best bakeries also offers holiday treats for Rosh Hashanah and Hanukkah. Led by the acclaimed husband-and-wife bakery team of Michael and Mary Gassen, Noe Valley Bakery is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.
3150 24th St.
San Francisco, CA 94110
This popular Jewish deli in the Mission District suffered a major setback in late January, after a devastating fire destroyed its commissary kitchen and production bakery. In business since 2010, co-founders Evan Bloom and Leo Beckerman were just about to launch a new extension of their business – Wise Sons Bagels – when the four-alarm Mission fire destroyed several residential units and impacted more than 30 local businesses. Although the bread and pastry production was halted temporarily, the neighborhood deli down the street did not suffer any damage and remains in business, selling distinctive foods from its extensive menu. Hopefully by March, supportive customers will be able to purchase challah, Jewish corn rye, chocolate babka and other specialties in time for Passover.