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09.16.09

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Phaedra

Photograph by Jenn Ireland
Baking The Best of It: Ed Hoffman shows off his chocolate cake.

Flour Power

Hoffman's sweet beginnings

By Christina Waters


ED HOFFMAN'S baking career began at the Old Theatre Café under the tutelage of Bavarian pastry maestro Lorenz Rothbucher. A native of the Los Angeles area, Hoffman had just graduated from UCSC and called working as a baker "a romantic idea." In time, Hoffman and his wife, June, a fellow UCSC graduate, moved up to Seattle, where for 16 years they created a successful pastry and wedding cake business. But Santa Cruz beckoned again, and in 2001 the Hoffmans opened their restaurant and pastry shop on Pacific Avenue, expertly aided by their UCSC-grad son and Culinary Institute of America-trained daughter.

SANTA CRUZ WEEKLY: Was the transition from baker to restaurateur manageable?
ED HOFFMAN: We wanted to encorporate more food items into the mix. It's funny because as soon as I opened my first bakery shop, people started asking for soups and salads and quiches. I never figured I'd be making all these different dishes. But I just decided to offer the best of the best--my best recipes.

What's your favorite pastry?
I like the cream tortes. I make a version of tiramisu in a torte style--espresso torte--real creamy but a little bit light.

So you have a sweet tooth?
I do, I confess. I can't eat as much as I used to, but a little bit after a meal, it closes things. Then you can move to the living room for some port. Civilized.

Do Hoffman's patrons worry about consuming pastries?
Well, it's not the tradition it is in Europe. There, people aren't afraid of food.

Biggest challenge?
When I first opened up, my chef said, "Use a mix." But my chefs were always confusing the waffle mix and the pancake mix. So I just went back to the old way. My pancake recipe is the old Bubble Bakery recipe--it has a touch of rice flour, eggs, flour, buttermilk. They melt in your mouth. Not too heavy.

Do you cook at home?
I do. My wife and I like to spend our Mondays fooling around in the kitchen. Cooking and having a little wine.

Most annoying part?
There can be some stress. You're a 30-year professional and you know everything inside out and people come in and they're afraid they'll get peanuts or something they're allergic to. People are asking me constantly, "What's in it? Do you use this or that?" It can be hard to please everyone. When I started in the business, white sugar was the enemy. Now it's flour--and just when I've really mastered sourdough bread!

What makes it worthwhile?
When Mrs. Johnson comes in for her cake and say's its lovely, it's great. You feel like you're contributing to the joie de vivre of the community.

SANTA CRUZ RESTAURANT WEEK is Oct. 1-8 at participating restaurants. Visit www.santacruzrestaurantweek.com for more info.


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