Mother Bake Shop: The Bakery That Doesn’t Want You To Know It’s Vegan
A new spot in Kailua offers work-of-art toasts, rose lattes and sourdough loaves.
Photos: Martha Cheng
You won’t know from Mother Bake Shop’s Instagram feed of pretty pineapple-and-black-sesame pastries and cardamon yuzu snails. You won’t know even when you arrive at the retro-cute bakery with its revolving cake display, pink neon “Love Your Mother” sign and a completely open production kitchen. “With the bakery we’re striving to make the best possible pastries that we can,” says Kristina Swenson-Stewart, who opened Mother Bake Shop in Kailua with her husband, Josh Stewart, early February. “We want people to think of us as a great bakery, not a great vegan bakery. There’s a strange stigma attached to the word ‘vegan’—that it doesn’t taste good.”
I understand the logic—would Oreo cookies be as popular if they were labeled vegan? But on the first bite of a pastry, it’s clear that something’s missing—butter. The laminated doughs have impressive layers, but they lack the flakiness and rich taste I attribute to butter. So I say, own your niche. Vegan items are much more sought after and appreciated than they once were—Tane Vegan Izakaya is perpetually busy, and HONOLULU’s own articles on vegan and vegetarian dishes are some of the most popular. But as someone expecting a butter and cream bakery, well, I was a bit disappointed in the pastry realm. Better are the cinnamon rolls and the double chocolate cookie, made with Mānoa chocolate (cookies and pastries from $2 to $5). And best are the naturally leavened breads, which don’t need dairy products anyway, and the works-of-art toasts ($11.50). The toast and sandwich menu is a bit fluid, depending on the local ingredients Mother Bake Shop can get, but when I went, the sweet toast resembled a layer cake of sliced brioche slathered with black sesame paste, coconut cream, poached pineapple, blackberries and micro shiso. I’d go back for the savory toast if it ever exists again, spread with miso-whipped sweet potatoes and avocado, grapefruit segments, thinly sliced radishes and furikake chickpeas, a delightful combination of creamy and citrusy, smoothness and crispness.
SEE ALSO: Tane Vegan Izakaya
Mother Bake Shop is certainly one of the most creative bakeries around, vegan or not, from its use of local ingredients, to a coconut-based “butter” used in the pastries that took Josh years to develop, to espresso drinks that include a rose latte. The portions are also generous, such as the malassada that’s almost twice the size of Leonard’s and the massive layer cakes in the rotating cake display (when was the last time you saw one of those?!). The effect is like entering an old-fashioned bakery, minus the old-fashioned ingredients.
Open Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Friday from 8 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. with pizza from 5 to 8:30 p.m. 131 Hekili St., Suite 101, Kailua, (808) 379-0076, motherbakeshop.com