Serious Eats: New York
Scratch My Supper: New Buckwheat and Kale Breads, Pizzas, from SCRATCHbread
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. But first the bread, which is yet another brilliant creation of its bakers.
SCRATCH's Buckwheatsour ($6) is a chunky, dense, and dark Pullman loaf that comes out of the oven with salted sunflower seeds mashed against its sides. It's made from buckwheat, New York State high-gluten, and whole spelt flours, leavened with the bakery's own wholegrain sourdough mash, and very lightly sweetened with molasses and maple syrup. In their crudest form, buckwheat loaves can taste like a big block of kasha. In the Buckwheatsour, the delicious buckwheat flavor is balanced by a bit of spelt nuttiness and mellowed by the touch of sweeteners. The crunchy sunflower seeds add depth to the already rich texture. This is a loaf that so good that it doesn't need any accompaniments—the highest accolade in the Good Bread universe.
In the rarified world of American fast food pizza franchises, it has somehow become customary to offer pizza dough breadsticks with ranch dressing. Now SCRATCH has jumped onto the bandwagon and knocked the side into the stratosphere. Its Kale Breadsticks ($6) come out of the oven dusted with grated cheese, chili flakes, and chopped kale. For the dipping sauce, the chefs make a "Hipster Ranch Dressing" from Greek yogurt, dill, and Spanish Valdeon blue cheese. Together, the breadsticks and dressing make an explosion of savory taste sensations: addictive.
If you still have room for a main course, you should try one of the bakery's new Sourdough Grandma Pizzas ($3-4 slice, $22-27 whole pie). These are big square pies, thicker than a New York slice but thinner than a Sicilian. They're generally topped with SCRATCH's housemade cheese curd and then various options for toppings. These can include a version of a Margherita with chili flakes added to the tomato and basil and a spectacular heirloom tomato, broccoli rabe, and black olive pie. If you want a break from the pizza hegemony but still need the cheese curds, you can order the new pasta dish ($8.50) of corkscrew pasta tossed in tomato sauce and covered in melted curds and a big scoop of SCRATCH's spicy chicken meatballs, the whole decorate with red pepper flakes and big leaves of basil.
About the author: Andrew Coe is the only reporter covering the city's bread beat.