This past Sunday, Local Pickins made a pilgrimage to Brooklyn, New York’s own Scratchbread in search of fresh loaves of bread to stock the pantry for the busy week ahead, and a delicious breakfast to start the day. The locally owned, community-oriented Scratchbread occupies a big storefront on the bustling Bedford Avenue in BedStuy, Brooklyn, and sells bread and to-go food offerings out of a walk-up window on the side of the building.
Peer into the window, and you can see the vast stone ovens where Scratchbread bakes bread, as well as row after delicious-smelling row of freshly baked loaves, rolls, muffins, scones and brownies, each creatively named after a local landmark or seasonal ingredient. Although we were intrigued by all the artisan offerings, which ranged from huge loaves of ‘Stuyvesantsour’ sourdough and ‘Brownstone’ focaccia to hazelnut bars studded with spicy tamarind currants, we were unable to resist the ‘Bourbon Wheat’, a crusty, still-warm, whole-wheat loaf riddled with bourbon-soaked currants and raisins, sprouted spelt, and toasted pecans. With this loaf, wrapped tightly in brown paper and passed over the counter, tucked under our arm, we ordered cups of steaming Stumptown Coffee and a mashed, garlicky potato, which came stuffed with cheddar, collard greens, tomato, day-old bread chunks, and topped with a soft-boiled egg. The result, something like a mixture between a baked, stuffed potato and savory bread pudding, was a perfect, filling brunch, leaving us happy, sleepy, and warm, and filling us up for most of day.
When we got hungry again, we toasted up thick slices of the Bourbon wheat bread, spread them thick with mustard and avocado, and made hearty sandwiches of sweet potato, cheddar, sprouts, cucumber, and rosemary caramelized onions. Feasting throughout the week on more slices of the Bourbon Wheat, usually simply toasted and buttered for breakfast or for a snack, we couldn’t stop thinking about what a perfect pickin’ it was: locally made, fresh, unusual, and, most of all, delicious. Currently, Scratchbread is open Monday-Sunday, with its counter often run by volunteers from the community, and soon will be offering bread-making and cooking classes.