I arrived at The Blue Stove on a Saturday—only to be greeted by closed doors and a sign noting they were closed for vacation. Dejected, I walked along Graham Avenue in Williamsburg and turned into a clothing shop. I chatted with the owner. "It's a slow day," she said.
"I have to confess," I told her, "I came to Brooklyn for pies, and not clothing."
"Oh! The Blue Stove! Yes, they're closed till next week." And then she bubbled on about the pie crusts I would find there, and one addicting chocolate cake doused in bourbon. Mouth watering, I hurried home to the East Village, and tucked away a pint of ice cream. It was the only way to make my cravings disappear.
I returned to The Blue Stove on Thursday, and this time around, was greeted by the scent of baking pies, chocolate cakes, and cookies. Owned by Rachel McBride, the shop is quite spacious, as far as bakeries go—window seating to the right of the entrance, a long table to the left, and more tables in the back. Regulars were lounging about during the noon hour, most with newspapers or laptops at hand. Rachel's bakery is named after an actual blue stove, passed down from her grandmother. The stove occupies a proud place in the center of the bakery, a cheerful and warming welcome for the sweets to come.
Pies are the house specialty, and wonderful they are. Behind a set of glass cases, I spotted Apple and Plum Pies, sold by the slice or as mini single-serving pies. And behind yet another I was welcomed by the sight of Chocolate Cream, Blackberry, and Key Lime.
The Plum Pie nestles plump slices of the stone fruit deep into a crisp, golden baked crust. The crust is delicate, yet firm, flaking apart in all the right ways with each forkful.
The typical graham cracker crust that accompanies your standard Key Lime Pie is replaced with a flaky traditional crust in Rachel's version. Soft in the mouth, this was an oh-so-tart and creamy cut—refreshing and rich all at the same time. Pie selections change frequently, so there's no set menu in place. Odds are that you'll encounter at least one or two flavors to your liking.
The Crumb Cake was gorgeous on sight, but less so in flavor, somewhat dry and erring on the sweet side...
...but a generously cut wedge of Chocolate-Bourbon Cake proved intoxicating. Moist and bold in flavor, every pore of the bundt was booze-soaked through and through. It was a deep dark Brooklyn Blackout, minus the custard, plus the bourbon. I loved this cake when served chilled at home, pillows of fresh whipped cream on the side.
Chocolate brownies tower high in this bakery, walnut-studded, with a crackly sweet surface. What it lacks in flavor intensity, it makes up in sheer size. And sometimes, size is immensely satisfying. Whereas the Chocolate-Bourbon Cake oozed bourbon in each bite, this brownie takes the chocolate path, notes of cocoa in a cakey concoction.
A selection of cookie jars line the front counter, housing a rainbow of brownie-esque chocolate crinkles and golden snickerdoodles. My favorite is the Ranger Cookie, the kitchen sink of the family, coupling chocolate chips, oatmeal, and nuts into one creation—crunchy from outside to the middle, crisp through and through.
Bottom line? You can't go wrong with the pies!
The Blue Stove
415 Graham Avenue, Brooklyn NY 11211 (map)