Home News From Pop-up to Brick-and-Mortar: Mission Welcomes New Cookie Bakery, Christine’s

From Pop-up to Brick-and-Mortar: Mission Welcomes New Cookie Bakery, Christine’s

by Celia

Christine Liu’s work-from-home setup might differ from the typical ergonomic chairs and big monitors of remote workers. Instead, it consists of a wooden working bench, flour-filled buckets, and an industrial mixer capable of handling 50 pounds of dough.

Liu’s workspace, dubbed “microbakery” Christine’s, located at 2823 18th St., is set to open its doors to the public, with a soft opening scheduled for Saturday, April 27, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Situated in an alleyway linking Florida and Bryant streets near 18th Street, Christine’s specializes in homemade cookies, with half of its menu catering to vegans. From classic chocolate chip to salted peanut butter and inventive vegan flavors like black sesame Oreo, lemon Earl Grey, and the newly introduced matcha shortbread, the bakery aims to showcase the delectable side of plant-based eating.

“I want to show people that eating plant-based is still super delicious,” Liu explained. “There’s still sugar in it. There’s still chocolate. All the good things, right? You just have to know how to do it.”

Driven by a sustainability ethos, Liu emphasizes sourcing ingredients from local producers whenever possible, including chocolate chips from Guittard Chocolate Company in Burlingame, walnuts from the Old Dog Ranch in San Joaquin County, and organic butter from Sierra Nevada Cheese Company in Willows, Sacramento Valley.

Passionate about the science of baking, Liu enjoys experimenting with various techniques, such as browning butter, resting dough overnight, and crafting vegan butter in-house.

After years of self-teaching, Liu pursued a full-time baking program at the San Francisco Baking Institute last year. Beyond mastering technical skills, the experience reinforced Liu’s deep love for baking, even relishing the physical labor involved, such as handling 50-pound dough batches and maneuvering baking sheets throughout the day.

Despite never envisioning herself as a baker while growing up in an Asian-American household, Liu found herself drawn to the craft, recalling a childhood aspiration documented in her pre-school yearbook: “when I grow up I want to be a baker.”

Four years ago, Liu and her husband transformed their shared joke of starting a small business into reality, capitalizing on the baking trend that swept through quarantine. Initially operating as a pop-up bakery, Christine’s operated from community kitchens in San Jose, often shared with other culinary professionals, which proved challenging due to space constraints and early morning overcrowding.

Inspired by others converting their garages into bakeries, Liu sought a permanent storefront solution. Now nestled in a brick building alleyway adjacent to a pan dulce bakery, Christine’s embodies a cozy “baker alley” ambiance, serving both as a baking kitchen and Liu’s residence.

Transitioning from the nomadic pop-up lifestyle, Liu eagerly anticipates the stability of a physical storefront, eager for customers to savor the experience of freshly baked cookies straight from the oven.

Christine’s, located at 2823 18th St. Unit 107, accessible from Florida Street or Bryant Street, welcomes visitors on Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Pre-orders will be available within 1-2 weeks.

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