The goods that come out of the Scratch Bread ovens are the baked equivalent of one of those Robert Rauschenberg paintings that combines found objects with carefully haphazard splashes of color. Bite into one of their sweet and greasy plantain bread cakes, and you could discover surprises like a whole dried chili pepper or a coffee bean.
When I first heard about SCRATCHbread's "brunch in a cup," I have to admit that my brain did a few rather skeptical somersaults. But then again, it didn't hurt that the weather has been particularly fine, or that founder Matthew Tilden named this novel concept STOOPbrunch, implying that his creations are meant to be consumed while sitting outside, basking in the sun. At $5, it certainly seemed well worth investigating. I picked up all three daily specials at the bakery's window in Bed-Stuy this Sunday (for roughly the same amount of money that I would normally spend on a single sit-down brunch), and I can confidently report that these messy paper cup-fulls of hearty brunch servings are not only a steal—they kind of blew my mind.
The rich, mustardy egg salad tops a leaf of raw kale and a thick piece of crusty bread, with kale pesto on top and breadcrumbs for crunch. A little sprinkle of chile flakes adds heat. Nothing too complicated, but certainly more interesting than most egg salads out there.
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.
In order to celebrate the season, SCRATCHbread, one of the city's most creative bakeries, has concocted a Mesquite Pork Sourdough with Maple loaf ($6.50) that captures its essence in bread form.
The end of the year is a time of excess in the bread world. Bakers who spent 11 months tending their levains and sourcing locally-grown, organic rye flour suddenly pull out the white flour, sugar, booze, butter, and more sugar. But the city's bakers are an inventive bunch, so this year's crop of holiday breads offers incredible variety, both sweet and savory.
The Peasant Sourdough comes out the oven looking like some crusty rye loaf, but it's actually on the soft and thin-crusted side. As in many SCRATCH products, the bakers build the ingredients for this bread out of a small group of building blocks that are also used for other loaves. First comes the sourdough starter, made from oat mash, rice, and wheatberries. To this they add cane sugar, a bran mix of wheat bran, flax seed, and oats, and then a mixture of dark rye, whole wheat, regular wheat, and spelt flours.
Brooklyn's SCRATCHbread isn't like any other bakery in the city. Time after time, its ovens have produced many of New York's most original loaves—breads with utterly original flavors layered with serious technique. Here's how they do it.