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.
Mani’s Pineapple Upside Down Cake
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- For the fruit layer, melt the butter in a 9- or 10-inch cast iron skillet. Add the organic blue agave syrup and pineapple. Bring to a low boil for about 8 minutes. Make sure the pineapple is evenly distributed over the surface and set aside to cool.
- Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Slowly pour in the agave and beat to shiny peaks. Whisk the egg yolks until pale yellow then stir in the melted butter and vanilla. Gently stir the yolk mixture into the egg whites and fold the flour mixture in 4 equal parts.
- Drop the batter in lumps evenly over the pineapple (which tends to rise into the batter otherwise) and smooth the top. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool on a rack for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pan and invert the cake onto a serving platter. Let stand for a few minutes for the cake to absorb the juices. Remove the skillet, cool and serve.
- Pineapple Layer:
- 4 tbsp unsalted organic butter
- 1/2 cup Wholesome Organic Blue Agave
- 2 1/2 cups pineapple chunks,
- preferably fresh
- 1 cup organic unbleached flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 4 cage-free organic egg whites
- 3/4 cup Wholesome Organic Blue Agave
- 4 large cage-free organic egg yolks
- 3 tbsp unsalted organic butter, melted
- 1 tsp organic vanilla