Adding a Sweet Touch to the Holidays
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With the countdown to Thanksgiving Day now in the single digits, you are one of two things: cool as a cucumber or running around like a chicken without a head, scrambling to finalize last-minute Turkey Day details.
Come Nov. 27, you will stuff yourself silly with turkey, ham, stuffing, mashed potatoes — the works — but the meal isn’t complete without a grand finale full of desserts. With this in mind, Napoleon’s Bakery is whipping up the sweetest pumpkin delights all month long in the form of pies, cakes and so much more.
Locally owned and operated, Napoleon’s Bakery has been providing loyal patrons with European-style baked goods with local nuances for more than three decades. According to general manager Jan Tsukazaki, “We strive for quick and friendly service at the bakery counter, and all of Zippy’s Restaurants serve Napoleon’s products if you wish to dine in.”
Most recently, Tsukazaki took Dining Out on a behind-the-scenes look into the days leading up to the holidays, where indulging in Napoleon’s classic confections has become tradition.
DO: How did the grand idea to open the bakery come about?
JT: Owners Francis and Charlie Higa recognized that a bakery was a natural expansion for Zippy’s Restaurants. After dining in the restaurant or picking up a meal to take home, customers could also get a cake, pie or other pastries for dessert, a snack, or perhaps stop by to pick up a cake to take to a gathering.
DO: As an award-winning establishment, what makes Napoleon’s Bakery stand out in Hawaii’s dining scene?
JT: Napoleon’s Bakery brings the flavors of the neighborhood bakery to many communities, now including Hilo and Kahului. Dobash cake, custard pie, long johns, cornbread and many other items are sweet treats we all remember from our childhood. Our offerings are not fancy or so expensive that you need to think twice, or consider buying it only for the most special occasions. Our baked goods can be enjoyed every day, and by everyone.
DO: What are your thoughts on the bakery’s growth through the years?
JT: Being a part of the growth of the bakery since the very first day, I am grateful to our customers, and extremely proud that we are able to maintain our quality and consistency for more than 30 years. We are cognizant of the trends and changing tastes of each generation, while staying true to our original recipes and what our customers expect from us.
DO: Have there been any new offerings recently?
JT: In the past few years we have introduced Malasadas, which are gaining a following, especially on Maui. More recently, we introduced a smaller 6-inch Dobash Cake ($8.65). There has been very positive feedback, so we will be adding more flavors in the near future.
DO: There is so much history behind Napoleon’s Bakery. Who is the lead baker?
JT: We don’t have a lead baker, per se. I was the first manager at Napoleon’s Bakery. I had an early interest in baking as a child … I remember being mesmerized as my mother made fresh apple pie from scratch, which was, and still is, my dad’s favorite dessert. It amazed me how flour, shortening and water could make such a tasty, flaky crust, and when combined with apples, cinnamon and sugar, became this delicious pie. I graduated from the culinary program at Kapiolani Community College, and attended a baking school in Switzerland.
The current bakery manager, Hidetsugu Hontake, who was trained and attended baking school in Japan, had worked for several well-known Japanese bread shops in Japan, San Francisco and Honolulu. Over the years we have been fortunate to have some very talented bakers work for us, who bring their skill, talents and ideas to the team.
DO: Now that fall is in full swing, November seems to be the month for all things pumpkin. How is Napoleon’s Bakery getting into the spirit of the season?
JT: The holidays are a time for gatherings and special treats, so we are much busier. Our specials for the month include:
Pumpkin Coffee Cake Squares ($1.75 each), a moist coffee cake with pumpkin puree infused in the batter. Streusel is placed atop the cake prior to baking, and drizzles of sweetened cream cheese are added across the top, and streusel also is sprinkled on the top before baking.
Pumpkin Cheesecake ($18.75), traditional cheesecake with pumpkin and spice added into the mix, is one of my favorites.
Pumpkin Pie with Equal Sweetener ($11.85) features our best pumpkin pie filling made with Equal Sweetener in place of sugar. The pie is baked, and topped with sugar-free whipped topping — it’s a perfect choice for those who are watching their sugar intake.
Pumpkin Chiffon Pie ($9.90) is a lighter version of our classic baked pumpkin pie. This pie was created 25 years ago, and it still is very popular until this day.
Pumpkin Delight Cake ($15.55) is another choice for our customers who are watching their sugar intake, as this moist cake is 100 percent sugar-free, made with pumpkin puree and traditional spices.
DO: How many pies are sold on average during the holidays? Have you seen an increase in production value over the years?
JT: Thanksgiving in particular is a pie holiday. We will bake about 15,000 pies of all flavors, but mostly Pumpkin, during the week of Thanksgiving. Christmas is the holiday for cakes, especially for all the office lunches and special desserts at dinner parties. As life’s many stresses make demands on our time, more people are buying baked goods. Thankfully, Napoleon’s Bakery is here to fill the need.
On average, we bake about 500 to 600 pies per day. Our ovens are huge. We have seven ovens to take care of all the different items we bake daily.
DO: What has driven the success of Napoleon’s Bakery’s popularity with its clientele?
JT: Primarily it is our consistency and attention to quality, from the ingredients we use to the skills and techniques our bakers and cake decorators have developed over the years. Also the convenience of our locations in neighborhoods all over the Islands.
DO: What are some of Napoleon’s classic treats?
JT: Our signature Apple Napples are a must — actually all of the Napples are fabulous. Dobash Cake, Cream Cheese Squares, Reese’s Ultimate Doughnut, Flaky Glazed Doughnut, Apple Pie, Lemon Bar, Guava Danish, Cornbread, Long Johns, Chantilly Puffs, Malasadas and the list goes on. We have many choices available all day. A few of our longtime best-sellers are Chantilly Cake, Chocolate Dream Cake and Chocolate Haupia.
DO: What do you foresee in the near future for Napoleon’s Bakery?
JT: In the near future, we will be expanding our doughnut offerings, adding to the variety of 6-inch cakes, and hopefully expanding our Hot N’ Fresh malasada locations to more stores. I hope our customers continue to support us because they love our flavors, quality and friendly service. When you crave something, you remember exactly what it tastes like. Hopefully people find that satisfaction when they bite into our products.