Brooklyn, New York is made up of a bunch of small neighborhoods, each with its own special character, and unique set of edible offerings. On a beautiful fall friday, I set out on a walk through the gorgeous Carroll Gardens neighborhood of Brooklyn, planning to visit some of the amazing bakeries that the area is famous for. My first stop was Bien Cuit Bakery, a fantastic artisan bakery specializing in unique pastries and breads, opened in 2011 by Oregon-born chef Zachary Golper and his wife Kate Wheatcroft.
Bien Cuit is a chic, airy bakery, perfect for hip laptop workers craving a delicate pastries or slices of freshly baked bread. The whole place is full of the comforting smell of yeast made bread, and the loaves themselves are beautiful. I could imagine bringing a stylishly wrapped-up loaf to a friend’s home as a housewarming gift, or to a dinner party.
However, since I knew I would be stopping at a number of bakeries that day, I decided to start with something a bit less substantial than an entire loaf of bread – a small but incredibly delicious looking salted buckwheat chocolate cookie. I ate it sitting outside on a sunny bench, and was super impressed by what a rich, chocolate flavor it had. Two big thumbs up!
A fifteen minute or so walk away from Bien Cuit (fitting in some walks make bakery tours a little less guilt-inducing!) is Mazzola Bakery and Cafe, a Brooklyn baked-goods institution since the 1930s. Mazzola has an old time vibe, with friendly but no-nonsense employees and shelves packed with bread, cake, and cookies.
At Mazzola, I was tempted by a New York classic: the one-and-only seven layer cookie. The very best seven layer cookies are dense, moist, chocolate-studded, almond-paste delights. I was not disappointed by Mazzola Bakery’s take on this classic cookie: it was colorful, dense with delicious almond paste, and chocolate. I got six of them, ate two right away, and enjoyed snacking on the rest over the course of the next few days. They stayed fresh-tasting and yummy, even a few days after I’d purchased them.
The next two stops on my tour were a bit away, down in the direction of the Hudson River and Brooklyn’s funky Redhook neighborhood. I enjoyed checking out interesting architecture, cool clothing stores, and enticing looking restaurants as I strolled through the brownstone-lined streets. Eventually, I reached Runner & Stone Bakery, home of some of Brooklyn’s most coveted breads and baked goods. I was feeling ready to make the plunge on purchasing a loaf of bread, and I was tempted by the wholesome-looking whole-wheat seeded loaf. I took it home, and served it toasted with butter at dinner that night. The bread was chewy, flavorful, and the perfect accompaniment to a warming fall soup!
My last stop was Four & Twenty Blackbirds, the best spot in Brooklyn for an entirely different type of baked good: pie! Four and Twenty Blackbirds has a cozy location, with the world’s tiniest and cutest bathroom, on a nice Brooklyn street. They serve up an impressive menu of whole pies and pies by the slice, as well as coffee, tea, and baked goods. I chose to sample rich-looking, molasses-filled blackbottomed oat pie, with a refreshing whipped-cream accompaniment. It was scrumptious, and every bit as decadent as it sounds!
Finally, feeling lazy and full of sweets, I had completed my bakery tour of the Carroll Gardens area. I can’t wait to continue my bakery-centric explorations of Brooklyn in other neighborhoods soon!