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Blackberry Gingerbread

Mani Niall, dubbed Baker to the Stars by Eating Well magazine in 1992, owned and operated a very successful bakery with a 20 year run. As the founder of Manis Bakery in Los Angeles in 1989, Niall created and refined a style of baking which has never been repeated in a retail bakery format.

He learned his craft alongside Chef Akasha Richmond (of Los Angeles celebrated Akasha restaurant), at the Golden Temple, a classic old school vegetarian restaurant. They revamped the restaurant, making a name for themselves as innovative chefs and attracting an eclectic Hollywood clientele. Michael Jackson, a restaurant regular while he was recording Thriller in a nearby studio, whisked Niall off to become his first private chef.

After several years as a private chef and caterer, Niall noticed a lack of great baked goods within the natural and organic foods sphere. Most places were devoted to one culinary idea, such as whole grain, low fat or vegan. Niall decided first and foremost he would open a great bakery with an all-inclusive menu celebrating good food
no matter what your dietary choices you would find something in the bakery case. With this credo he opened Manis Bakery, an organic, artisan venture located on Fairfax in Los Angeles. The bakery has been profiled in Food & Wine, Details, LA Times, the Hollywood Reporter, People, Vogue, Pastry Arts, Shape, Elle, Longevity and Vegetarian Times.

Since then he has written three cookbooks, which reveal the world of baking with natural and organic ingredients - Sweet & Natural Baking (the Manis Bakery cookbook), Covered in Honey (exploring the world of varietal honeys) and Sweet! (discovering how to bake with sugars from around the globe). The fourth cookbook, Good Morning Baking, is on the way spring 2013.

Niall built a gingerbread country estate for a San Francisco Millennium party, developed heirloom tomato pasta sauces and vegetarian entrees for food manufacturers and is on the chef panel at the Center for Culinary Development. Mani's newest venture, Sweet Bar Bakery is located in Oakland, California. His deliciously sweet bakery is located in the former home of Historic MacFarlanes Candy and Ice Cream and serves up unique and artisan pastries.


  1. Prepare a 9 x 13 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray or brush with oil.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  3. Sift together the dry ingredients. Set aside.
  4. Whisk together the eggs, organic blue agave and organic molasses. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add the egg mixture. Using a hand held whisk, begin blending together and add the boiling water as you go. Stir in the lemon zest and the crystallized ginger. Mix until fully incorporated, do not over mix.
  5. Toss the berries evenly in the prepared pan and pour in the batter. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until the center springs back when pressed lightly with your finger.


  • 2 1/2 cups whole-grain spelt flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 large cage-free organic eggs
  • 3/4 cup Wholesome! Organic Blue Agave
    Organic Blue Agave
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  • 3/4 cup Wholesome! Organic Molasses
    Organic Molasses
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  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil such as canola
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • Zest of one organic lemon
  • 1/2 cup crystallized ginger, finely diced
  • 2 – 6 oz baskets blackberries or 12 oz frozen blackberries un-thawed