Learn why we’re obsessed with Just What I Kneaded!
If you haven’t visited Just What I Kneaded yet, what are you doing? From pop-tarts and cinnamon rolls to cookies and cakes, this woman-owned Los Angeles vegan bakery is serving up delicious pastries with a drizzle of activism!
Baker and Owner Justine Hernandez
Baker and owner Justine Hernandez started Just What I Kneaded in 2017 as a cottage bakery out of her home. As an herbivore, Hernandez struggled to find vegan pastries with a satisfying texture and flavor profile. She felt determined to create great-tasting vegan baked goods and break the stereotype of vegan food not tasting as good as its non-vegan counterparts.
Hernandez perfected recipes for vegan cakes, pies, pop-tarts, scones, and her signature cinnamon rolls, as well as for potato galettes, breakfast burritos, biscuit sandwiches, and other savory bites. It wasn’t long until Just What I Kneaded took off, causing Hernandez to look for a brick-and-mortar to operate out of. After a lot of planning, building, and a few delays, Just What I Kneaded opened its doors to the public in Frogtown in July of 2020.
Getting Political with Vegan Pop-Tarts
Around the time of Just What I Kneaded’s opening, the US was experiencing extreme political and social unrest. With limited time to attend protests, Hernandez found another way to support the causes that mattered to her—by getting political with vegan pop-tarts! By that, we mean frosting politically and socially charged words, phrases, and images on pop-tarts. For example, during the presidential election of 2020, Just What I Kneaded sold pop-tarts frosted in the words “vote,” “I’m speaking,” etc. During the uproar of Asian American hate crimes last March, Just What I Kneaded frosted “stop Asian hate” on their pop-tarts. It became a subtle, yet powerful way for Hernandez to use her business and platform to speak out.
“I remember our first city-wide curfew and how there were BLM protests popping up throughout the city. It felt scary, but it also felt like the beginning of a revolution. It felt like maybe we could actually change and heal the country. I was working all day and all night. I was baking, and voicing my opinions on pop-tarts was my way of marching. Writing political messages on pastries or publicly taking a stance via Instagram on things that I feel are basic human rights is my way of protesting,” Hernandez told VegOut.
Vegan Women-Owned Businesses in LA
Although most customers love these political- and social-themed pastries, Hernandez experienced a lot of negativity as well. “People deleted me and sent me some interesting messages. A customer that used to come in often [said] he didn’t like how I used my ‘brand’ to voice my personal opinions, saying he would ‘no longer be giving me his business.’ I responded that my ‘brand’ is just me, and I speak my truth when I feel that my influence can support marginalized people. I welcomed him back any time, stating that regardless of our personal views, we could both agree that chocolate chunk cookies are delicious,” shared Hernandez.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the only time Hernandez has experienced negative treatment in the culinary world. Hernandez told us, “I’ve personally worked in kitchens where I have experienced unprofessional [behavior], outbursts of anger, and sexual harassment.” This is why it’s so important for Hernandez to create a positive, uplifting environment for her team. “We treat each other with respect, hear each other out, and work as a team.” When asked what her favorite part about owning her own business is, Hernandez told VegOut, “I get to make my own radical rules and no one can tell me ‘no.’ If I want to speak out about a social or political issue and use pop-tarts as a vessel, there is no boss telling me to censor myself. I feel free to be myself and share the love of baking with my community in my own unique way.”
In honor of Women’s History Month, Hernandez would like to shout out the following vegan women-owned businesses in LA: Sugar Taco, Cake Girl, and Pura Vita. She’s also offering pop-tarts this month in honor of some of her most favorite influential women.
To learn more about Just What I Kneaded, visit JustWhatIKneadedBakery.com.