If the heart of a bakery is its oven, then Proof Bakery's is ginormous. Really. It's a gas-powered Dalton with double doors and revolving shelves that can fit 18 sheet trays — or 72 pies — at a time. The oven, about the size of a 10-foot U-Haul truck, is 50 years old, inherited with the space, and its quirks provide the cult Atwater bakery its pulse.
"When someone first showed me how to light it, you had to fill a basin with gas, light a newspaper and throw it in," says owner Na Young Ma. "It was like 'Backdraft.'
"But I have learned to love it." (She also has since installed a modern igniter.)
Proof Bakery in Atwater Village has become a neighborhood hit since opening in November 2010. But it is still a tiny operation awkwardly outfitted with large-scale kitchen equipment, much of it from the original bakery, the Rollin' Pin Bake Shop (which opened in 1962).