After more than two years of planning, Justine Hernandez’s homespun vegan bakery has its own brick-and-mortar shop—and it’s just as bright and comforting as its popular pastries.
Just What I Kneaded first launched on Instagram, evolving to a wholesale operation run out of the L.A. native’s home kitchen that filled the pastry cases of coffee shops such as Glassell Park’s Little Ripper and Highland Park’s Kindness & Mischief. Now, after a Kickstarter campaign, a delayed start and a partnership with one of Los Feliz’s favorite restaurants, Hernandez is finally opening her sunny plant-based bakery in Frogtown.
Just What I Kneaded is still, at its core, a pared-down operation: There is only one baker and only one fridge, and the latter necessitates shopping for fresh produce daily. It makes the menu ever-changing and limited, so from morning into early afternoon you might find slices of stone fruit pie, cookies, hand pies, “galaxy” scones (dotted with a stellar-looking mix of blueberries, raspberries and blackberries), tomato galettes and, available every day until she sells out, Hernandez’s signature cinnamon rolls slathered with a lemon-zest cream cheese frosting.
“When we sell out, we sell out,” she says. “It’s so funny how you can go to Paris and appreciate what they do, but in L.A. everyone wants things and wants it to be endless. If it’s one person making a bunch of things, I don’t know, it kind of makes it special. Hopefully people get that and are stoked that they got something that was handmade.”
From Wednesday to Sunday Hernandez takes the morning shift at the space, a 1,000-square-foot former machine shop that’s now home to both Just What I Kneaded and the new, fledgling outpost of Los Feliz’s il Capriccio. At 5pm her longtime friend, chef Ermanno Neiviller, takes over and while il Capriccio’s Frogtown pizzeria is still in its soft-opening phase, guests can walk up and call ahead for Neapolitan-style pies in classic varieties: white pies, margheritas, marinaras and more. Hernandez is even developing a vegan cheese for a collab pizza.
You’ll find the shared space just around the corner from popular sandwich shop Wax Paper, complete with patio and a menu board that declares the day’s baked goods and, in the evening, the pizza varieties.
Eventually, Hernandez says, she would love to see the patio full of people, plants and dogs, but for now they’re just enjoying what she and Neiviller can offer. “For now, I think it’s cool that it’s a little semblance of normalcy: You can come in and still afford a coffee and a cinnamon roll and get the vibe of a coffee shop,” she says. “I think that’s important right now because it’s obviously terrifying—we all have to wear masks and everything’s crazy—so it’s nice to offer that little bit of hope. We’re still doing things!"
Expect a few more savory items down the line—a breakfast sandwich featuring avocado and roasted tomatoes, maybe, and a breakfast burrito wrapped in fresh, handmade tortillas Hernandez is still developing—plus a full coffee bar offering Sightglass beans in the form of iced coffee, drip, espresso and lattes, with a couple house drinks to follow.
It’s an unexpected time to launch any operation, but it was a strange time, too, when Just What I Kneaded initially began. “Trump was just elected and the EPA was being dismantled and basically the world was ending and I said, ‘OK, if I’m going to open a business, it’s going to be vegan,’” Hernandez says, wanting to make an impact that both helps the environment and fights food waste. “I feel like I’m not a judgy vegan, in the sense that I went to school for nutrition and I understand people need different things, but as a business owner it felt super important now: If I’m going to feed hundreds of people, I want it to be vegan.”
Take a peek inside Frogtown’s new Just What I Kneaded with our photos, below, and a bonus video tour from L.A. food blog Jessie Eats.
Just What I Kneaded is now open at 2029 Blake Ave, with hours of 8am to 2pm Wednesday to Sunday.
Most popular on Time Out
– Here’s how to see the NEOWISE comet from Los Angeles
– Gyms, barbershops and malls need to close indoor spaces again in Los Angeles
– You can dine on closed streets in these L.A. neighborhoods
– Is L.A. on the verge of a shutdown again? Here’s what Mayor Garcetti actually said.
– Communal pantries and fridges are sprouting up in L.A.