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Ring the bell for vegan pastries at Split Bakehouse

Pop tarts headline a playful take-out menu at the mall

A berry "pop tart" with edible gold spray, which happens to be vegan
A berry "pop tart" with edible gold spray, which happens to be vegan

The past couple years have brought plenty of changes to Split Bakehouse. When Vanessa Corrales launched the brand in 2018 with acclaimed pastry chef Kristianna Zabala, the idea was to offer a wholesale pastry menu that was half traditional, half vegan — hence the name Split.

Place

Split Bakehouse

5500 Grossmont Center Drive #219, San Diego

The bakery quickly grew from an East Village commercial kitchen into its own space, just outside the food court of La Mesa’s Grossmont Center mall. Zabala moved on to other things in 2019, yet Split continued to grow its customer base, providing both types of baked goods to coffee shops and other such food counters. Despite a colorful storefront, the bakery wasn’t open for retail.

Sponsored
Sponsored

That is, until the pandemic put a wrench in all things. To stay afloat, Split ventured into retail, first by offering home deliveries, direct to consumers. Then, in February of this year, it finally made pick-up and take-out orders available through a small service window. It will most likely look empty when you arrive, but ring a bell, and someone — likely Corrales or new pastry chef Pablo Mendez — will appear to take your order.

However, this wasn’t the only change to take place in the past year. Somewhere along the way, Split ceased to be a “split” concept bakery. Since the new year, its products have transitioned to 100 percent vegan.

A small bakehouse inside the Grossmont Center mall

Which is tough to believe when you sink your teeth into the shop’s berry pop tart. Though inspired by the famously toaster-thin breakfast treat, the Split pop tart is more of a puff pastry. The airy and flaky hand pie is filled with a strawberry raspberry jam, and glazed with a drizzle of raspberry icing. To glam it up a bit, there’s even a touch of edible gold sprayed across the top. I hope it goes without saying, this is way better than any pop tart you might get out of a box. Yes, even Toaster Strudels.

A "cruffin," or croissant-muffin, filled with vanilla custard

One of the trickier accomplishments of any bakery is to produce a sufficiently flaky pastry from laminated dough, and doing so usually involves a lot of butter. Which makes Split’s basic croissant something of a marvel, loaded with fine, well separated layers. The texture is mostly right on, meaning the only thing I could possible miss was the taste of butter itself. That’s less apparent in Split’s chocolate and almond croissant offerings.

And in a recent special I found: the vanilla bean “cruffin”. This tall muffin, fashioned from that croissant dough, is filled with a bourbon vanilla custard that shows a surprising creaminess for something without dairy.

An Oreo concha, reminding us the famous cookie sandwich is also technically vegan

However serious Split may be about vegan pastries, the cruffin exemplifies the playful side of Split Bakehouse that shows up again and again. Another weekly special offered a twist on the traditional Mexican sweet bread known as a concha, shaping its seashell-shaped crust with crumbled Oreos. Rather notoriously, Oreos are considered vegan, so the cookies motif shows up here from time to time.

The "jalapeño cheese galette," featuring everything bagel toppings

Outside the pop tart, my favorite would have to be savory offering, a “jalapeño cheeze” galette. It would be tasty enough with a peppery, nondairy cream cheese wrapped into a sort of puff pastry hand pie, but it’s made inarguably better thanks to an everything bagel treatment: it’s topped with poppy seeds, sesame seeds, and dried onion and garlic. I don’t recall ordering a pastry quite like this anywhere else, but it’s definitely makes ringing that bell worthwhile.

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A berry "pop tart" with edible gold spray, which happens to be vegan
A berry "pop tart" with edible gold spray, which happens to be vegan

The past couple years have brought plenty of changes to Split Bakehouse. When Vanessa Corrales launched the brand in 2018 with acclaimed pastry chef Kristianna Zabala, the idea was to offer a wholesale pastry menu that was half traditional, half vegan — hence the name Split.

Place

Split Bakehouse

5500 Grossmont Center Drive #219, San Diego

The bakery quickly grew from an East Village commercial kitchen into its own space, just outside the food court of La Mesa’s Grossmont Center mall. Zabala moved on to other things in 2019, yet Split continued to grow its customer base, providing both types of baked goods to coffee shops and other such food counters. Despite a colorful storefront, the bakery wasn’t open for retail.

Sponsored
Sponsored

That is, until the pandemic put a wrench in all things. To stay afloat, Split ventured into retail, first by offering home deliveries, direct to consumers. Then, in February of this year, it finally made pick-up and take-out orders available through a small service window. It will most likely look empty when you arrive, but ring a bell, and someone — likely Corrales or new pastry chef Pablo Mendez — will appear to take your order.

However, this wasn’t the only change to take place in the past year. Somewhere along the way, Split ceased to be a “split” concept bakery. Since the new year, its products have transitioned to 100 percent vegan.

A small bakehouse inside the Grossmont Center mall

Which is tough to believe when you sink your teeth into the shop’s berry pop tart. Though inspired by the famously toaster-thin breakfast treat, the Split pop tart is more of a puff pastry. The airy and flaky hand pie is filled with a strawberry raspberry jam, and glazed with a drizzle of raspberry icing. To glam it up a bit, there’s even a touch of edible gold sprayed across the top. I hope it goes without saying, this is way better than any pop tart you might get out of a box. Yes, even Toaster Strudels.

A "cruffin," or croissant-muffin, filled with vanilla custard

One of the trickier accomplishments of any bakery is to produce a sufficiently flaky pastry from laminated dough, and doing so usually involves a lot of butter. Which makes Split’s basic croissant something of a marvel, loaded with fine, well separated layers. The texture is mostly right on, meaning the only thing I could possible miss was the taste of butter itself. That’s less apparent in Split’s chocolate and almond croissant offerings.

And in a recent special I found: the vanilla bean “cruffin”. This tall muffin, fashioned from that croissant dough, is filled with a bourbon vanilla custard that shows a surprising creaminess for something without dairy.

An Oreo concha, reminding us the famous cookie sandwich is also technically vegan

However serious Split may be about vegan pastries, the cruffin exemplifies the playful side of Split Bakehouse that shows up again and again. Another weekly special offered a twist on the traditional Mexican sweet bread known as a concha, shaping its seashell-shaped crust with crumbled Oreos. Rather notoriously, Oreos are considered vegan, so the cookies motif shows up here from time to time.

The "jalapeño cheese galette," featuring everything bagel toppings

Outside the pop tart, my favorite would have to be savory offering, a “jalapeño cheeze” galette. It would be tasty enough with a peppery, nondairy cream cheese wrapped into a sort of puff pastry hand pie, but it’s made inarguably better thanks to an everything bagel treatment: it’s topped with poppy seeds, sesame seeds, and dried onion and garlic. I don’t recall ordering a pastry quite like this anywhere else, but it’s definitely makes ringing that bell worthwhile.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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