Midwife & Baker

on 2022-08-01

Overall: A+

# of visits: many

Among all the bakeries reviewed in this blog, this is the closest to us. We always complain that there is a lack of bakery culture in the south bay. As you can see, most of the reviews happen on trips to SF/Berkeley/beyond. On the bright side, we do have a decent bakery 10min drive from us for any momentary baked goods fix. In fact, we ordered their pastries for the picnic after our wedding ceremony. They started in farmer's markets and now have a mortar and brick store in an industrial area in Mountain View.

On a chilly early morning, everything else in that neighborhood would be pretty dead. Except that in front of Midwife's store window would line up locals in pajamas. Steam rises from the store window, both from people conversing and fresh out of the oven baked goods passing. The scene is deeply warm to heart. Probably that's what I call the bakery scene. A community-rooted good bakery that's loved by the neighborhood. I hope there will be more of those around us in the future.

Best of the best

Plain Croissant - Strong gluten in the honeycomb layer gives a nice chew. Thin crispy crust with a darker sheen. Buttery but light.

Almond Croissant - Crispy airy croissant base. Think almond cream filling. Crunchy almond biscuit topping with sliced almonds and powdered sugar. It's consistently solid.

EDIT In recent visits, depending on whether you get it from farmer's market on Sunday, early or later in the day from bakery on other days, quality varies. There has been several less than perfect occassions, e.g. base squashed or overly soaked by moist in almond filling, making layers less seperate, second bake too burnt, etc. But when it's peak time, the original verdict holds.

Danish - Puff pastry shaped into a disk filled with custard or jam in the center. Flavor is seasonal. Pastry base is flaky and airy. Custard center is usually bright and fruity. An always go-to option.

mango only jam filling
strawberry cream cheese w/ cheese under jam
apple ginger custard w/ fruit, dense bottom layers squashed together
berry apple
passion fruit orange

Double Chocolate Croissant - Chocolate lover heaven. An upgraded chocolate croissant. Top fully covered with sunflower seeds with chocolate paste as glue. Inside filled with rich velvety chocolate ganache. Super flakey as plain croissant. I like the premium filling and topping usually only for twice-baked croissants while still having maximal flakiness like single-baked plain or regular chocolate. Best of both worlds.

Brioche - All brioche based items are nicely done. Open crumb structure from good gluten development and rich dough flavor from enrichment, the two features that usually don't come hand-in-hand. All except plain brioche bun are seasonal items. They usually have unique and interesting flavors done right.

  • Brioche Bun

Even Open crumb, light and airy. Thin crispy crust, buttery yet not oily. It's the textbook of brioche, full of rich flavor from the enrichment of egg and butter, yet execellent structure from good gluten development.

  • Panettone

An ultimate brioche luxuriously filled with pulpy dried fruits and topped with almond strudel. It's festive and magnificent. I for a minute couldn't believe its whopping price tag of $45. Being enchanted after the first taste, I had to admit it's like no other brioche. It's magnificent. Is it worth the splurge? After researching how to make it, Yes. For a once a year holiday season treat, if you just want to enjoy without spending time and effort try and error plus spending probably more on ingredients and equipment and most likely not getting close to professional level like this one, a solid Yes. It's extremely airy inside from invert hanging after baking. Dried fruits are presoaked in some alcohol for maximal juiciness and flavor. Almond strudel top is sweet and crunchy. Every single nibble is an enjoyment.

  • Hot Cross Bun

Inside candied orange. Outside apricot syrup glaze.

  • Concha

Vanilla, chocolate and strawberry. Flavor is quite subtle but can still detect it. Sugar top is crunchy. Dough is quite neutral, constrasting the just sweet enough sugar top.

  • Gibassier

Orange with anise. Powdered sugar dusting. Just sweet enough. Love the pairing of citrusy and spice. Winter fruit and warm spice, instant holiday vibe. Light and refreshing. Perfect breakfast under winter sun yet still chill air.

Honorable mentions

Cardamom / Garlic Twist - Croissant based dough shaped into rope and braided into disk. The base is light and crispy. In between braids is the flavor inclusion.

For sweet version, it's the cardamom paste. I still don't know what cardamom is but I like cardamom flavored pastries. It's like chocolate without cocoa flavor cinnamon without spice flavor. The paste is fragrant and mildly sweet.

Another twist on Cardamom twist (can't help the pun) is Frangi Twist. Very similar to Cardamon Twist. Almost the exact same flavor just braided into different shape. Although staff describes as croissant dough layering with chocolate and almond paste. I couldn't pick out any almond cream. The chocolate flavor is also very mild. If I hadn't tried Cardamom Twist, it would be a mystery what the paste is. Now I'm fairly confident it's cardamon paste. I'm quite a fan even though I've never had it in any other occasion.

For savory version, it's the roasted garlic. The garlic flavor is mellow and sweet rather than strong and pungent. The dough has cheesy flavor though you can't really see cheese bits. You don't have to be a garlic lover to like it.

Chocolate Sourdough - Chocolatey small sourdough round filled with chocolate chunks. Compared with normal sourdough, crumb is on the smaller side, probably due to the addition of cocoa powder and the inclusion of chocolate chunks, both of which would inhibit gluten development. The crust is on the darker and chewier side. The color is probably from cocoa powder. The chew is probably due to the smaller loaf's higher crust to crumb ratio. Nonetheless, it doesn't affect the tangy sour signature notes of sourdough base. Combined with cocoa flavor, it's one-of-a-kind dessert bread. When served warm, chocolate chunks are semi-melting, making an almost spread on the bread. Fantastic. Alert for chocolate mustache. Yummy messiness.

Scone - Inside soft and tender. Surface crispy and buttery. Flavor is seasonal. May have glaze as additional layer of flavor.

Could be better

Olive Fougasse - Got this by the mislabel to ciabatta. I was thinking "Mmm... That's interesting. I've never seen olive ciabatta before". It's a sourdough base shaped into a pattern. I consider it an Italian pretzel. The varying thickness in the pattern gives you a different texture each bite. The thicker, the more crumb to crust ratio, the softer. The thinner, the more crust to crumb ratio, the chewier. However, as it has lots of surface area to crumb ratio, overall it's a bit too chewy on every bite. It would be pleasant if there is enough airy crumb to balance. But the flat and rope shape of Fougasse prevents a large volume of crumb. I'd say either change the dough base to be more like high hydration soft bread or bake it at a lower temperature so the crust doesn't develop into a thick chewy layer. Additionally, olive contains quite some oil and it seeps into dough. It feels too oily to touch and taste.

Ham and Cheese Croissant - Very generous ham and flavorful cheese. Aroma is enticing. But croissant shell is always kinda soggy.