Savory Treats And A New Demo Kitchen at Amy's Bread
Markets of New York City
March 29, 2013

Since I moved to New York City, Amy’s Bread has been everywhere I need it to be. Our first apartment in the city was near the Hell’s Kitchen location, where we first fell in love with Amy’s white bean purée sandwich. We often do our food shopping on Bleecker Street, stopping for a pick-me-up chocolate twist and a cup of tea at Amy’s on the corner with Leroy. Most often, however, we pick up a baguette or cupcakes for Sunday Family Dinner at Amy’s Chelsea Market location.

Late last year, Founder Amy Scherber spearheaded a significant reorganization of her business, which has yielded some delightful innovations for the rest of us. She moved her commercial kitchen to Long Island City after housing it for 17 years in Chelsea Market. They simply needed more space to make the extensive range of products the bakery offers. Amy took advantage of the opportunity to expand the Chelsea Market storefront and create a smaller kitchen for baking demos and classes. The new space has more counter seating, and there is much more room behind the displays for the staff to move and serve their customers even faster.

I spoke with Amy last week, and it was exciting to learn about all the innovations that have sprung up from the new configuration of her facilities. Founded in 1992, Amy’s Bread has long been known for luscious cakes, cupcakes, scones, and other sweet treats. Now we can also enjoy small savory snacks in the bakery.

The managers of Chelsea Market encouraged her to start selling pizzas, which had been absent from the overall mix of foods at the venerable food market. She was not fully convinced until she moved a smaller oven out of storage and into the new demo kitchen. After much testing, she and her bakers developed a wonderful formula for a pizza dough that cooked beautifully in the bread oven (normally a pizza oven is much hotter). They have been experimenting with toppings too. I tried a small pizza topped with caramelized onions and roasted red pepper strips, and a mushroom and kale pizza, both piping hot out of the over. The combinations were deep and rich, and the sauce was a perfect, tangy foil to the comforting melted mozzarella.

“We use as many local ingredients as we possibly can,” Amy said. She and her bakers love to scour the farmers markets for seasonal fruits for her baked goods. “Now we excited to try new vegetable combinations on our pizzas.”
Spring is a particularly fun time at Amy’s Bread. Easter and Passover provide Amy and her team ample opportunity to make special holiday treats. Hot cross buns and bunny shaped breads fill baskets in the bakeries. Amy employs two cookie decorators during the season to make beautiful Easter cookies. Amy’s almond and chocolate macaroons, along with a flourless chocolate nut torte, are gobbled up during Passover. And the best part is that everyone can enjoy all of these freshly made products regardless of our religious beliefs.
Amy’s Bread will be offering cooking demos in the Chelsea Market kitchen. I recently had a discussion with a dear friend about the merits of learning to bake vs. simply going to a great bakery because they already know what they are doing. I fell into the former category. I have only made bread once as an adult, although we made it all the time in elementary school (but that’s another story). Sinking my hands into the dough, watching it rise and transform into something completely different, and then enjoying the smells coming out of my oven were all very enjoyable experiences. To my friend’s credit, however, my bread was tasty but tough as a brick.

“Making bread is a fascinating process,” Amy said. “So while you may not want to bake bread every day, there is something very wonderful about learning how it is made and being able to feed your family and friends with something you made with your own hands.” This reason is the very idea behind the Amy’s Bread demo kitchen and bread making classes. The lucky part is that if your bread turns out like mine, you can just bring home a loaf from Amy’s, and your friends and family, none the wiser, will be mightily impressed by your new found skill.

Visit Amy’s Bread this weekend to pick up seasonal favorites, and any other time for fresh artisanal breads, pastries and savory snacks.