SFoodie Advent Calendar, Day 16: Tartine's Soft Glazed Gingerbread

A.J. Bates
Tartine's springerle-mold gingerbread, $3.75: Pretty enough to mount on your wall.
The SFoodie Advent Calendar counts down the days before Christmas/Nondenominationalwinterholiday, one treat at a time.

Sure, there's always a line at Tartine Bakery. Everybody knows that, San Franciscans as well as foodie tourists from around the world ― no wonder the bread sells out in 15 minutes. But glance through the pastry case and it's the unassuming soft glazed gingerbread ($3.75) that manages to stand out, even sitting next to the decadent chocolate friand and tart lemon bars. Beautifully formed in traditional springerle molds, the gingerbread looks more like a glazed tile meant to hang on a kitchen wall, even more than the plate it sits on. But this is a treat designed to be eaten, not admired for its decorative qualities. Take a bite and you encounter an ever-so-slight molasses bitterness and lingering ginger bite beneath the sweet, paper-thin glaze. Drier and crumblier than gingerbread (the cake) and softer and moister than gingerbread (the cookie), Tartine's hits a balance between Old World nostalgia and San Francisco tasty ― a delightful recovery from that long wait in line, only to see the shaggy-haired worker put the dreaded sign on the window: "Sold Out of Bread."

Tartine Bakery and Cafe: 600 Guerrero (at 18th St.), 487-2600.

Previous days:
Dec. 1: Fruitcake from Schubert's Bakery
Dec. 2: Vegan Peppermint Joe-Joes
Dec. 3: Coconut snowball from Sweet Adeline
Dec. 6: Cranberry linzer verrine from Citizen Cake
Dec. 7: Panettone from Dianda's
Dec. 8: Clarine's Florentines
Dec. 9: Boccalone's truffled mortadella
Dec. 10: Plum pudding from John Campbell's
Dec. 13: Buche de Noel from Les Elements
Dec. 14: Thorough Bread's gibassier
Dec. 15: Charles Chocolates' edible box
Dec. 16: Drinkwell Softers' wassail
Dec. 17: Cookies and more cookies!
Dec. 20: Hungarian poppyseed roll from Crixa
Dec. 21: Sweet tamales from La Espiga de Oro

Read more from baking blogger Irvin Lin at Eat the Love, and on Twitter at @jackhonky. Follow SFoodie: @sfoodie

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