Almost a month ago I set out to discover new bakeries in New York City. It took me awhile, but I was finally able to visit several great places that I hadn’t been to before. I started my journey in Brooklyn, where the number of bakeries is starting to rival Manhattan’s. Since I rarely get out of the kitchen, let alone Manhattan, I decided to dedicate an entire day to one walkable area in Brooklyn (it’s a big borough!), visiting as many places as possible. Brooklyn bakeries on my list included Baked, Sweet Melissa, One Girl Cookies, Chocolate Room and Cheeks. Two Amai bakers, Lara and Elisabeth, and Andrew joined me on the tour. We were hungry, we were committed, and we were crazy to think we could handle more than three places in one day.
The retro-style bakery, Baked, was the starting point for our tour. I have been reading about Baked for years, but have never found myself in the Red Hook neighborhood where it is located. Getting to Baked from Harlem, where I live, is no easy feat. We rode the #2 train for an hour, transferred to the G subway line, and exited at the Smith/9 stop. If you haven’t been to the Smith/9 subway station before, it has a great view of Manhattan and is worth taking a minute to enjoy. Outside of the subway stop, we hopped on the B77 bus which took us on another 10 minute ride to Baked.
After stepping off the bus, I thought this long journey to Red Hook would be a once in a lifetime event. I could say I saw Baked, and probably never feel the need to return again. Although I really wanted to visit the shop, my expectations were low. It is the sister shop of the Chocolate Bar in Manhattan, which I have never been overly impressed by. Judging by the websites and the former relationship of the owners, I assumed they would be very similar stores. Once I arrived at Baked, my mindset began to change immediately. For starters, Baked actually has a bakery in it. Unlike Chocolate Bar, you can smell and see the pastries being made in the back. The atmosphere is bright, sunny and very relaxed. It doesn’t feel too trendy or hip like I had imagined. Before I had one bite of cake I liked it, and wished I lived closer to it.
What we bought:
Elisabeth had the “Red Hook Red Hot” cake – red velvet cake topped with cinnamon buttercream, chocolate and candied red hots. The cinnamon buttercream was nice and light, but it would be better on a different cake. Nothing beats cream cheese frosting on red velvet cake in our opinion.
Lara tried the mixed berry and chocolate chip scone. This is a choice she would not repeat, since the scone was marginal at best. It was very heavy and felt like a brick.
The winner of the day was the Peanut Butter and Jelly bar I ordered. It had a shortbread crust and was topped with a peanut butter filling and raspberry jam. It didn’t pretend to be anything fancy. It was just a nice, sweet, crunchy bar that did this classic combination justice.
Cost: $4.00 for slice of cake, $2.50 for the bars. A small coffee is $1.50.
Wait: No wait. On a Sunday afternoon at 1pm, we walked right up to the counter and took our time ordering. The tables were a bit scarce, as people were “parked” with thier laptops or reading a book. We were able to pull together 4 chairs from different tables and sit in the back.
Atmosphere: The interior is bright and sunny, with touches of orange (Baked’s color) everywhere you look. They even use orange grout between white tiles in the kitchen and bathroom. The retro look is softened by a wood wall and chandeliers, giving the shop a hip, yet comfortable feeling. The chairs are orange wrought iron, which add to the style but certainly not the comfort of the shop.
Uniqueness: Baked specializes in classic American desserts, but manages to bring in interesting flavors and keep the menu fresh. While we were there they had an almond green tea cake, topped with fortune cookies.
The bakery’s style is also a bit unusual. For example, they have cast of a deer’s head on the wall and the logo is wrapped in horns. I’m not sure about the meaning behind that for a bakery, but I have to say it is unique.
Clientele: Young artists who have recently taken up residence in Red Hook seem to be the regular customers here. No tourists to be found, just locals looking for a good bakery.
Location: The bakery is in the “up and coming” Red Hook area of Brooklyn. If coming by the F or G Subway, get off at Smith/9th and get on the B77 bus (just outside the subway entrance to your right) which will take you into Red Hook and drop you off at VanBrunt and Dikeman (1/2 block south of Baked).
Staff: Nice. They gave us free water and lots of Baked stickers. They also got our group of 4 people’s order right, and that’s all we really ask.
Final Verdict: A trendy bakery that lives up to the hype. Good pastries, relaxed atmosphere and friendly staff. Worth going to, even if it is a bit out of the way.
You also can see more pictures and details about the Brooklyn Bakery tour at Triptie.com >
359 VanBrunt Street
Brooklyn , New York , 11231