Masse’s Pastries: Below the Radar Baked Goods in Berkeley

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Paul and Marcia Masse run an underappreciated bakery near Chez Panisse.

Shattuck Avenue was hardly foreign territory. After all, for the past 40 years, it’s been home to Chez Panisse – one of the most famous restaurants in the U.S. – plus places like Cesar and The Cheese Board. However, sometimes, it takes a local to delve deeper. Tess Minsky attended college in Berkeley and prior to my trip, she e-mailed me an eating guide to her former base of operations. One of Sunday’s stars turned out to be Masse’s Pastries, which has been within shouting distance of Chez Panisse for over a decade, run by Paul and Marcia Masse.

Pastries Berkeley

The Masses produce several tantalizing tarts, many of them seasonal.

For whatever reason, the Bay Area has become a Mecca for morning buns, with bakeries like Tartine and La Farine producing interesting versions. Clearly, the Bay has room for more buns.

Morning Bun Berkeley

Masse’s oversized version was flaky, pull apart and sugar-lined.

Tart Berkeley

Our pumpkin tart hosted jewel-like decorations, including a single cranberry, a shortbread leaf, sliced fig and pecan, a single hazelnut and scattered pomegranate seeds. The pie-like pumpkin filling tasted like fall and the crust provided rich, satisfying support.

Pastry Berkeley

A slab of flaky, cinnamon-folded apple strudel dusted with powdered sugar and served with a tiny pitcher of creme Anglaise further bolstered our indulgent breakfast.

Berkeley is home to so many culinary hallmarks that Masse’s could easily get overshadowed, but considering the care they put in their pastries, that shouldn’t be the case.


Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

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