Mr. Holmes Bakehouse

  “I Got Baked in San Francisco” – Mr. Holmes Bakehouse

Pastries occupy a special place in our relationship and in our hearts. When Jason and I first met, he was working at The Wild Flour Bakery in Ogden. We ate a lot of pastries in those early years (and I gained a little weight), thanks to the bakery’s leftovers. 

Needless to say, we expect a lot from pastries. Our usual haunts – Tartine, Knead Patisserie and B. Patisserie – never disappoint. When we try a new spot, these are the standards against which all others are judged. Croissants in Paris? Sure, they’re OK, but we’ve never eaten one that compares to the perfection that is a Tartine croissant. Kuin Amman at Dominique Ansel in NYC? Yeah, they’re pretty good. We admit it. But we’re a little judge-y when it comes to these things and that means we’re reluctant to spend those precious calories gambling on an unknown (to us) baker. 

Knowing we were likely too late to get our hands on the “croissant muffin” or “cruffin” at Mr. Holmes Bakehouse, we decided to check the bakery out anyway (cruffins come out at 9AM and sell out quickly). The bakery is a small, kitschy little spot in San Francisco’s Tenderloin that is wildly popular in spite of the crappy neighborhood that houses it. In this city, that means they offer something people want.

  We tried the blueberry “Brioche Bomb” and a croissant. The brioche was soft and pillowy. Crunchy sugar crystals and a tasty crumb topping added nice texture. The blueberry filling was sweet, but not too sweet. Worth the visit.

  We liked the croissant a lot. It had a nice dark crispy outer layer and lots of flavorful soft layers in a perfectly sized portion. It was far better than almost all of the croissants you’ll find in a grocery or a coffee shop. Worth returning for more.

If you’re going, be sure to line up early for the signature cruffin. When they’re gone, they’re gone.

Mr. Holmes Bakehouse
1042 Larkin Street (at Sutter St.)
San Francisco, CA 94109
They’re open daily from 7AM weekdays / 8AM weekends and close when they run out of goodies!


Orange Banana Bread

We can get citrus year round today, but specialty citrus like blood oranges are still only available seasonally, and that’s a good thing. We like instant gratification just like the next person (one of us more than the other), but some things are better when we have to wait, and when that thing is almost over it’s nice to preserve some of it for a little longer.

Candied citrus is an easy way to make a good thing last another month or two. I read about the technique at and made up a batch. Slicing was a bit of a challenge since the fruit was a little soft. That didn’t matter much, the fruit topping produced an interesting rustic look for the banana bread, a slight adaption from something I found at, thank you.

Fruity olive oil and dark chocolate play well with the ripe bananas and orange. Adding zest to the bread batter will enhance the bright orange flavor from the candied topping. I forgot the zest in the batched in the photos, but I included it in the recipe. No matter. Like everyone else, we have more than enough bananas in the freezer to whip up a batch of banana bread anytime we want, and a little more time to make another batch of blood orange candied citrus.

Candied citrus can be used in a variety of ways. When sliced properly, the beautiful rounds fit perfectly on top of muffins and cupcakes—either baked in or decorated with.  Chopped candied citrus can be thrown into a variety of baked goods or desserts when a little citrus is needed. Candied citrus truly is a good thing for any baker, but hurry and get the end of season citrus now or you’ll just have to wait until next year. Enjoy!

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Orange Banana Bread

1 cup / 4.5 oz all-purpose flour
1 cup / 5 oz graham or whole wheat flour
1/3 cup / 2.35 oz light brown sugar/coconut sugar/muscovado sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup / 3.5 oz coarsely chopped bittersweet chocolate
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups / 12 oz mashed, ripe bananas (~3 bananas)
1/4 cup / 60 ml plain, whole milk kefir or yogurt,
Zest of one orange
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the top:
canned orange slices

Preheat the oven to 350° F, and place a rack in the center. Grease a 9- by 5- inch (23 x 13 cm) loaf pan, or equivalent.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Add the chocolate pieces and combine well.

In a separate bowl, mix together the olive oil, eggs, mashed banana, yogurt, zest, and vanilla. Pour the banana mixture into the flour mixture and fold with a spatula until just combined. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and top with candied orange slices.

Bake until golden brown, about 50-55 minutes..

Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn the loaf out of the pan to cool completely.


Chocolate Magic Shell

The kid in us loves this simple, crispy chocolate ice cream “sauce.” A little mysterious, the warm glossy chocolate hardens on contact with frozen scoops of ice cream, leaving a thin shell that breaks into shards as the spoon takes its first swipe at the cool creamy treat below. No matter the ice cream flavor, a drizzle of homemade chocolate shell is always a welcome addition.

So what’s the secret? How does liquid chocolate turn to a brittle shell on top of ice cream? Coconut oil! That’s right, pure, extra virgin coconut oil. This delicious tropical oil remains liquid at temperatures above 76 degrees, a not uncommon temperature in a busy kitchen. But once cooled, coconut oil gets very hard. And, like chocolate, the colder the coconut fat gets, the more brittle it becomes. The result of combining them is a delightfully crunchy ice cream topper.

The flavors of coconut and chocolate compliment one another perfectly. Beyond great flavor, their high saturated fat content protects them from oxidation. That means your batch of chocolate shell will last months at room temperature if kept tightly covered. We recommend using the best dark chocolate you can afford for this recipe. If you want to make a large batch to share with others, we’re fans of Trader Joe’s PoundPlus bars of 72% dark Belgian chocolate. Besides having great flavor, it offers a big bang for the buck. If a Trader Joe’s is not in your area, use the best chocolate you can find. The coconut oil used here is a cold-pressed, organic extra virgin coconut oil from Nutiva. It has a light taste and beautiful white color. When shopping for coconut oil, just remember to look for organic options and buy only non-hydrogenated virgin oil.

The chocolate shell on the shelf of the local grocery may be easy enough to grab, but if you can warm water on the stove, you can whip up your own batch of chocolate shell in minutes. We use the recipe written by the good folks at America’s Test Kitchen here. They know how to test a recipe and we’re happy to report this one is perfect.

Chocolate Ice Cream Shell
By America’s Test Kitchen*

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon instant espresso or coffee powder
Pinch salt
4    ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped (whatever dark chocolate you prefer)
1/3 cup coconut oil
1    teaspoon cocoa

Stir vanilla, espresso powder, and salt together in small bowl until espresso dissolves. Microwave chocolate and coconut oil in medium bowl at 50 percent power, stirring occasionally, until melted, 2 to 4 minutes. Whisk in vanilla mixture and cocoa until combined. Let cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes, before using. Chocolate shell can be stored at room temperature in airtight container for at least 2 months; microwave, stirring occasionally, until melted and smooth, 1 to 2 minutes, before using.

*We do not own a microwave (shocking, we know). Instead of nuking the ingredients here, we made a double boiler out of a sauce pan and a stainless steel bowl. It’s easy enough to melt the chocolate and coconut oil on the stove top over boiling water. It really doesn’t take much more time than a microwave. Remember, once cooled and stored, your magic shell may turn into a solid mass in the cupboard. To rewarm, loosen the lid, set the jar in a small saucepan and add enough water to come half way up the side of the jar and heat over a very low flam until the chocolate is liquid. This process takes less time than it takes your ice-cream to soften for scooping!

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