Editor's note: In honor of Serious Eats Bakery Week, we asked our "Good Bread" writer Andrew Coe to share his favorites in the city. Have at it, Andrew!
I can't get through the day unless I have a couple of slabs of good bread, toasted and smeared with cream cheese and jam, along with my morning coffee. For me, "good bread" has to be fresh, with a great aroma; I have a great appreciation of all the dense breads out there. One of my long-time favorite dense breads is Bobolink Dairy's plain "Medieval Rye," sold at the Greenmarket. A whole loaf is so heavy that if it fell on you it might kill you. It's made from whole wheat, rye, and oat flour, all of which give a lovely flavor to the moist and chewy crumb. I don't know how close it is to real medieval bread, but it is good.
I'm not a huge fan of baguettes, mainly because there are so many bad examples of the bread floating around the city. However, sometimes my teeth need to bite into some crisply crackling crust. Then I look for those loaves that avoid the flavorless crumb with the texture of cotton candy. They usually do this by adding a twist to the classic baguette formula, like the Blue Duck Bakery's "poolish" baguette (available at Union Market) made from liquid leavening rather than yeast. Closer to home, I stop by Almondine Bakery for its Almondine baguette, made with whole wheat flour added to the white. It has the crisp crust of their excellent regular baguette with a more fragrant interior. You don't need cheese.
One of the newer dense breads to hit the city's bread shelves is Orwasher's Ultimate Whole Wheat, which is sold in their store and at the Cayuga Pure Organics stand at the Greenmarket. It's made from whole wheat flour grown upstate and milled by the Cayuga Pure people near Ithaca. New York State was once the center of country's wheat-growing district, and the Greenmarket people are encouraging a revival of the crop by asking their baked good purveyors to use local wheat. With its Ultimate Whole Wheat, Orwasher's shows them how it's done, producing a perfect balance of flavor and texture.
Not all my bread is eaten at breakfast. The last few years have seen a boomlet of good hummus restaurants opening around the city. The best of these, like Mimi's Hummus in Brooklyn, use pita bread from Pita Express. This is Israeli-style pita bread, its fluffy, porous crumb designed for dipping and mopping. My favorite is the whole wheat, which makes the perfect compliment to a plate of unctuous hummus. Pita Express breads are sold at Corrado Bread & Pastry stores, and you can also try them at the bakery's Pita Express restaurant near City Hall.
Another loaf I keep coming back to is Bouley Studio's miche. This bread bucks the tide of artisan miches in the city, which mostly are all crust (usually burnt) and nothing going on inside. Bouley's version has a chewy crust and a dense, aromatic crumb that goes well with jam, cheese, cured meat, and just about anything else. I could live on it.
Finally, there's the bread I grab when the larder is bare and I don't have time for a bakery run: oat bran bagels from Zaro's. I don't know how much oatbran they have (and don't really care), but they have whole oats plastered to the crust, good flavor, and a nice chewy texture. They'll keep me until tomorrow.
The Rest of Bakery Week...
The Best Bakeries in New York: American-Style »
The Best Bakeries in New York: French-Style »
My Top 10 Bakery Sweets in NYC »
The Best Baguette in New York »
Where To Get The Best Pies in New York (Our Top 5) »
Greenmarket schedule: Thursdays, Tucker Square near Lincoln Center; Fridays, Union Square
15 Ann Street, New York NY 10038 (map) 212-571-2999
Grand Central Station
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