In order to celebrate the season, SCRATCHbread, one of the city's most creative bakeries, has concocted a Mesquite Pork Sourdough with Maple loaf ($6.50) that captures its essence in bread form.
New York's baguette bakers like to play with their bread: Prosciutto, Parmesan and picholine baguettes! Kosher baguettes! Buckwheat baguettes! Big, soft, and crappy baguettes! So last summer, Keith Cohen of Orwasher's had a radical concept. What about making the best possible real French baguettes?
Bakers work notoriously long and irregular hours, with their days frequently beginning or ending in the wee hours of the morning. The question is, how to keep healthy? For Eric Kayser, globe-trotting founder of the Maison Kayser empire, and Yann Ledoux, overseer of his New York ovens, the answer is running.
Harvest time is a slippery slope leading directly to holiday feasting. In Central Europe, any fruit that isn't consumed fresh or canned is dried, to be turned into all kind of dishes that presage the holidays. In Switzerland and Southern Germany, dried pears are saved for Hutzelbrot—dried pear bread—which is now available at Runner & Stone.
My general bread-buying rule of thumb is the darker the better. Dark breads tend to have more flavor a more pleasing chew and a better nutritional profile. So here's a roundup of some of my favorite dark breads, both old and new.
The most famous Georgian bread in New York right now is khachapuri, a heavy, cheese-stuffed gut bomb that may send you in search of a nap. If you're looking for something lighter from one of Brooklyn's talented Georgian bakeries, seek out shoti, a lean bread that's something like the Georgian baguette, made in a much cooler oven.
One of the best places to see New York's bounty of dark, dense Russian breads is Brighton Bazaar, arguably the city's best Russian market. There you can buy aromatic, freshly-baked, glistening brown loaves coming straight from...Germany!?
SCRATCHbread is an "evolved fast food joint" according to Matt Tilden, guiding spirit of the Bed-Stuy bakery/restaurant. This week, the joint's menu evolved once again with the introduction of a new loaf and a takeout supper menu that's filled with typically SCRATCH, rich, multi-layered, and delicious options.
Wherever the Armenian diaspora travels, it brings its baking traditions, particularly the flatbread staple called lavash. You can get it at Brooklyn Bread House, the sole source for fresh, local Armenian bread in New York.
"I was bummed out," Karen Freer tells us, "Because I missed bread. I didn't like the gluten-free breads out there, so I started making my own bread. My friends said they'd buy it, gluten-free or not. That's when I started Free Bread."
A half dozen of our most talented bakers descended on the New Amsterdam Market last Sunday. The occasion was the third annual Bread Pavilion, featuring loaves made from local grains.
Brooklyn is filled with Italian bakeries, but sadly only a few of them devote themselves to making great bread. Il Fornaretto is one of them, and its coal-fired oven has been producing classic, well-made loaves for decades, including what may be the best semolina bread in town.
When you serve cheese, you need bread. Over a dozen years ago, that simple imperative led Bobolink Dairy, already renowned for its artisan cheeses, to build a wood-fired oven to bake rustic breads to go with their rustic cheeses. Today, Boblink's oven produces 17 varieties of bread made from largely local and organic grains. Thanks to the bakers' commitment to small batch, naturally leavened doughs, these loaves have a richness of flavor and texture that stands out in the city's crowded bread market.
If you open a brasserie these days, you have to take bread seriously. Case in point is Lafayette, the new French restaurant in the old Chinatown Brasserie space on Lafayette Street. Walk in the door and the first thing you're greeted with is a counter displaying racks of brown loaves and glistening pastries that are an immediate sign of the eatery's ambition.
For decades, the Hudson Valley has been a breadbasket for New York. Back in the 1970's and 80's—when the artisan back-to-the-bakery movement was at its peak—idealistic young bakers fled the city determined to hone their craft in a less stressful environment that was closer to the soil. Rock Hill Bakehouse, which sells at the Union Square Greenmarket, is one of those efforts.
The re-opening of Smorgasburg has brought a dizzying array of new vendors selling food products you didn't know you wanted: Teriyaki balls! Chicken burgers! Bite-size cheesecakes! Amid them all, it's great to discover a vendor offering something that we really need: great bagels made by a top-flight baker.
After suffering extensive damage from Hurricane Sandy, Almondine is back open in Dumbo. Once again we can enjoy Almondine's excellent patisserie and, more importantly, some of the best baguettes in New York.
The approach of spring has given New York's bread bakers a burst of creativity. Here are five must-eat loaves to mark the end of winter.
Pain d'Avignon is the great New York City bakery hiding in plain sight. It doesn't advertise or otherwise toot its horn. Yet its delicate, crispy rolls fill the breadbaskets at many of the city's top hotels and white tablecloth restaurants. Not bad for three guys from Belgrade who arrived here a little over 20 years ago with only a few dollars in their pockets.
Uri Scheft, the head man at Breads Bakery, arrives in New York with a distinguished baking pedigree that spans from Israel to Denmark. His Union Square bakery is already drawing regulars, and his northern European-style breads definitely warrant the attention.
In Lisbon, Alfama is the name of the historic center of the city, built around a medieval castle. In New York, Alfama is the name of little Portuguese restaurant in Midtown that makes some special bread.
Per Se's former head baker, Peter Endress—whose breads you could find weekly at Smorgasburg—have settled into the Gowanus at Runner & Stone Bakery and Restaurant. And in a couple respects, they're better than ever.
New York has only been baking sourdough for about 40 years, but in that time the artisan bread revolution has given us some wonderful loaves.
Here are ten breads—lean and nutty as well as rich and sweet—perfect for holiday tables, all from some of New York's best bakers.
For New York's German community, the rarest holiday tree on the market this December isn't a plant but a cake. In Germany, baumkuchen, or "tree cake," is a Yuletide fixation ubiquitous in bakeries and holiday markets. It's made by coating a spit with layers of batter and baking them layer by layer in a special oven, and you can find it at Stork's Bakery in Whitestone.
The Ironbound district of Newark is a pancake-flat trapezoid hemmed in between the city's downtown, the Passaic River, and the highway. For almost a century, it's been home to a thriving Portuguese community, rivaled in size only by Massachusetts communities like Fall River and New Bedford. The Ironbound's main drag, Ferry Street, is lined with Portuguese, Spanish, and Brazilian restaurants selling platters of paella, barbecue, and the like. If you want a bite of something just as Iberian but not so gut-busting, head to Teixeira's Bakery, with two stores in the Ironbound. The line to the counter is often forty deep, but it's worth the wait.
If you want to judge the state of bread in New York, a good place to start is the bread counter at Dean & DeLuca's main store at Broadway and Prince Street. Here you find a wide selection of great loaves both haute and earthy, from the latest Manhattan artisan sensation to old school breads from the farthest reaches of the outer boroughs.
Talk about crust. That's the first thing you notice about Sullivan Street Bakery's breads. Here's bakery founder and owner Jim Lahey: "The crust of bread has to do with how bread is cooked. The crust is something that forms during the cooling process. I like cooking things to their highest expression. I like the contrast of soft and crunchy. I like to taste the by-products of lacto-fermentation in dough. That's what gives a unique flavor to the crust."
The yeasty heart of the Daniel Boulud empire is hidden at the end of an East Village alley, through an unmarked door, and down a long, brightly-lit corridor. There, amid a phalanx of stainless steel ovens, mixers, and other machines, genial master baker Mark Fiorentino and his team of assistants turn out a dizzying array of breads for Boulud's half dozen restaurants.
There's a trio of cartoon skeletons dancing on the window of a bakery on Brooklyn's 4th Avenue. Just inside the door, you find an elaborate altar decorated with sugar skulls, comic skeleton figures, bottles of tequila, photographs of deceased relatives, candles, crosses, and round loaves of sweet bread decorated with bone designs. This is how the family that owns Don Paco Lopez, maybe the city's oldest and certainly its best known Mexican bakery, celebrates the lives of its ancestors.
[Photos: Andrew Coe} In the Guyanese bakeries of Brooklyn, every bread is linked with a specific food. At Tota's Bakery in Crown Heights, the platt or plait bread is a big, braided white loaf that looks like challah without...
The rest of the country knows Hoboken for the sculpted sheet cakes that come from its most famous bakery. They're swathed in sheets of Satin Ice brand fondant tinted a rainbow of hues not found in nature. Even on the coldest days, the line for Carlo's Bakery, of reality show fame, stretches for blocks down toward the train tracks. Hobokenites know their city for the good bread produced by the bakeries that aren't featured on TV.
The Japanese like their bread soft and fine-grained. This is partly due to the baleful influence of American culture, post-World War II, when the taste for Wonder-style white loaves spread with American food rations into Japanese society. Today, Japanese may eat more bread than rice, mainly as breakfast toast and quick-lunch sandwiches. Most of this is shokupan, a big, white Pullman loaf that's sold in crinkly cellophane bags. Like any bread, it can be ruined by adding preservatives and too many cheap ingredients. In New York, the place to buy your shokupan is Tribeca's Takahachi Bakery, where the cooks are committed to quality, freshness, and wacky invention.