Ha Do’s enthusiasm for baked goods began with a Schweizer Nusstorte, a cake she grew up eating in Germany. As the owner of a San Francisco bakery, Konditorei Hahdough, Do now pays homage to that hazelnut cake. Described on the website as, “Perhaps our most subtle and amazing cake,” Do takes a perfectionist’s approach to baking.
When Do moved to San Francisco, she couldn’t find a German bakery. “That’s when I started to bake more.” Then she got the idea to open her own shop. Since Michelle Polzine shuttered her 20th Century Cafe, Hahdough has cornered the San Francisco market where non-Gallic pastries are concerned.
“Konditeroi” is the German term for a cafe that sells pastries and Hahdough enthusiasts marvel over Do’s Berliners. As she describes them, they’re “the ancestor of the jelly doughnut”—and a delicious ancestor at that. While there are other daily pastries and thick, salted pretzels on the menu, the array of cakes she makes is astounding. At the moment, I count 29 different cakes available to pre-order.
My favorite is the Prinzregententorte, which is a many-layered chocolate and sponge cake, made for “people who just want a chocolate fix.” Do’s version of a Blackforest Cake, or Schwarzwaelder Kirschtorte, is made traditionally, with a chocolate sponge “soaked liberally in Kirschwasser,” or cherry brandy.
Do and her husband Christian first started selling her baked goods at Bay Area farmers markets. They persisted in doing so for three years before finding a commercial kitchen and storefront. Do explained that the most efficient way to succeed at a farmers market is to come up with one recipe and then make several variations of it. But that’s not how she approached it. She made approximately 18 products at any one time. This inefficient approach ended up being successful in the long run and Hahdough earned a loyal following.
When they eventually opened on Fell Street, it was a big deal for the couple. There was a line a block long and they immediately sold out. “I had to close the store for a couple of hours while they frantically made more in the kitchen,” Christian recalled.
After you taste one of Do’s jelly doughnuts, you’ll find yourself licking the jam and powdered sugar from your lips before declaring, “Ich Bin Eine Berliner!”
1221 Fell St., San Francisco