Lotta's bread pudding.
Filmore Bakeshop's bread pudding.
The newest dessert spot in Hayes Valley is Schulzie’s. It's just like an ice cream parlor, only it has nine chilled bread pudding options instead of ice cream. You choose from cheeky flavors like “Millie Vanillie Bean” or “Badass Banana Chocolate,” then add your own embellishments. Owner Sarah Schulz tells me some of the most popular toppings and sauces are Oreos, blueberries, strawberries and their housemade whiskey sauce. Needless to say, Schulzie’s isn’t following the usual sustainable, organic Bay Area ethos, but sweet-toothed types are still lining up out the door to spoon into their soft, commercialized cookie-covered mounds of bread pudding by the cup-full. I see the attraction of its cutesy white-tiled design, well-dialed branding and fun concept, but I’d still rather spoon into traditional bread pudding. You know, the kind made from day-old bread that comes out of the oven with an unevenly crusty top, and a warm, custardy middle. Lucky for all of us, several San Francisco bakers work wonders with stale bread. Here are three great bread puddings to seek out—in all their warm un-scoopable glory.
1) Lotta’s Bakery: Walk into this Polk Street bakery, and you might think you’re in an antique shop at first. The owners Earl Darny and Richard Pullano are life partners—one obsessed with baking, the other with collecting fun vintage pieces. You can ogle the colorful lamps and statuettes for-sale as you wait for the bakery worker to cut you a slice of the classic bread pudding. Darny makes it daily from left-over cinnamon buns and a basic custard. Slice price: $3.85. 1720 Polk Street (at Clay Street), 415-359-9868
2) Fillmore Bakeshop: The pastry case at Fillmore Bakeshop is brimming with an ADD-inducing array of macarons, Princess cakes, galettes and sweet mini bundt cakes, but you should funnel your attention into the bread pudding. The father and daughter owners make it every morning from day-old croissants. The flavoring could be sour cherry, boysenberry, banana chocolate or apricot blueberry, which is available today. Slice price: $3.50. 1890 Fillmore Street (at Bush St.), 415-923-0711
3) Hooker’s Sweet Treats: Owner/baker David Williams transforms sourdough bread into the most sinful bread pudding on this list. Baked in mini loaf pans, the neatly formed little mounds are crusty on top, dense and creamy in the middle, with no discernable chunks of bread. Flavors range from strawberry-chocolate to a classic “Big Easy” raisin, to the best-seller: a banana-salted caramel with Hooker’s caramel oozing out of the middle. To reach true sugar nirvana: add caramelized pecans and warm caramel sauce. Slice price: $5.00. 442 Hyde Street (at O’Farrel St.), 415-441-4628
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