Buttery, Sugary Sea Salt

Salted caramel started somewhere, and now it’s at Stateside Bakery.


Stateside Bakery puts sweet and savory together in cupcakes that use sea salt and creamy caramel combinations.

Lori Eanes

Is any caramel unsalted anymore?

Probably not. But what many salted-caramel cravers don’t realize is that this ubiquitous treat is regional.

Salt is as ancient and basic as the earth and sea. Caramel, by contrast, is a butter-sugar work of art. Where else but France—in its northwestern corner, Brittany, whose sea salt and salted butter are legendary—could these two, combined, become a local favorite that’s now a global craze?

After apprenticing in his father’s famous pastry shop, Henri Le Roux studied candymaking in Switzerland. Launching his own chocolaterie in 1977 and striving to invent a new type of candy using local ingredients, Le Roux came up with salted caramels. Showered with awards in France, they went worldwide.

At Stateside Bakery in Berkeley’s Elmwood district, executive pastry chef Erica Land makes salted-caramel cupcakes using Clover organic unsalted butter and Maldon sea salt.

“There’s nothing more enticing to a pastry chef than harmonizing sweet and savory together,” Land muses. “I religiously use salt in all of my creations to enhance the flavors, but making the salt the star of the show is a completely different ballgame.”

After buying the popular Cupkates food truck last year from its founder, Kate McEachern, local entrepreneur Angel Cruzado posted a Craigslist ad seeking someone to help him transform the truck into an ice-cream-taco cart. Land answered that ad.

“By the time we met up a few weeks later, he had already expanded this cart idea” and decided to also buy McEachern’s brick-and-mortar bakery, Land says. “It didn’t take long for either of us to realize that we had a similar vision and passion for nostalgic treats.”

Those salted-caramel cupcakes share Stateside’s shelves with nouveau versions of childhood favorites such as fudgy brownies, peanut-butter-sea-salt cookies, cream-filled sponge-cake “Twinkles” and jam-filled, butter-crusted, sprinkly-frosted “Tart Pops.”

“It can be easy to over- or under-do the salt if you’re not careful, so finding that perfect balance is challenging,” Land warnes. “Once you do, it’s only fair to share it with the world.”

Stateside Bakery, 3001 Telegraph Ave., Berkeley,  510-647-9919, www.StatesideBakery.com.


Published online on Nov. 30, 2016 at 8:00 a.m.

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