Generous sidewalks and a wide thoroughfare don't exactly make Glendale Boulevard the Champs Elysees of Atwater Village, but a new bakery located on the street helps import a bit of France. And it's also here where Proof Bakery owner Na Young Ma hopes to "be part of a community and neighborhood vibe." The bakery soft-opened roughly a month ago. Even if this isn't a general area of Los Angeles that's starved for quality pastries, coffee and such (Sweets for the Soul is directly across the street), Ma and Yeekai Lim of Cognoscenti Coffee bring a degree of seriousness and purpose to the neighborhood.
Along with pastry chef Crystal White, Ma -- a Glendale native who attended CIA Greystone and worked in the kitchens of Amy's Bread in New York, Rustic Canyon and Craft -- has been introducing the core of Proof's repertoire for several weeks now. The selection includes palmiers, assorted tea cakes, coconut macaroons, compact croissants and pain au chocolat filled with Valrhona chocolate that appear downright dainty compared to over-sized American iterations.
Glazed gingerbread cookies come delicately stamped with a floral motif. Meringue freaks will add Proof's orange curd tart to their must-taste lists. Currant and apricot and candied ginger scones strike that perfect balance of dense and crumbly. Light, flakey gougères spiked with cracked black pepper make for a perfect and modest $1 snack. Ma also features changing daily special savory morning pastries, along with cakes available by the slice. Look for additional fruit tarts that will change seasonally, too.
As for the coffee program, Lim, previously an architect by profession, installed his pop-up operation behind the counter at Proof, using a La Marzocco GS3 and a compact Synesso. Espresso beans are sent down from San Francisco's Four Barrel, and various single-origin coffees are used for pour-overs. Tea is sourced closer to home from Intelligentsia. "It's an opportunity to come in and pair up with someone who believes just as much in their craft as I do," Lim says.
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Ma collaborated with Kathryn McCullough and Jonas Bergkvist of Lever in rehabbing and transforming what for decades had been Toni's Bakery. Warm dark grey walls and a few tables (plus a couple more outdoor) make up a streamlined décor scheme that puts the emphasis on baked goods themselves. And while reclaimed wood and white marble tabletops are materials we're seeing a lot of these days, Proof isn't in the business of chasing the next trend. Instead Ma and White take a judicious approach towards applied ornament when it comes to the space and their products. But that doesn't mean White, who's responsible for most of the cakes, is the Adolf Loos of baking. The Bûche de Noël is proof, er, evidence enough that Proof wants to have some fun. Hours are currently Wednesday through Sunday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and a special holiday season menu is available for special order.