As this is the week that kicks off the best time of the year with the best holiday of the year (A huge amount of delicious food surrounded by ones you love remembering what you have to be thankful for? Along with a killer color pallet associated with it? Anyone who doesn’t love Thanksgiving can have a long conversation with me), I thought it only appropriate that I take this week to discuss a bakery that has become something of a home to me. Amy’s Bread (which has multiple locations, the one I visit being the Hell’s Kitchen location) won a place in my heart from my very first visit, and I have been back at least four times since. It distinguishes itself upon sight, with a bright blue wooden exterior and golden script reading “Amy’s Bread” with a golden loaf in the center. In the hectic, bright, big industry center of midtown, Amy’s sticks out as a place more down to earth and personable. Inside you are instantly greeted by a whole counter full of cakes (both cupcake and full), muffins, sticky buns, doughnuts (which I would more readily call mini-bunt cakes, but I’ll not quibble with Amy), Challah knots, croissants, and more. Behind this counter is a wall of bread: plain white, whole grain, olive, challah, sourdough, and any other type they have made that day. At the end of all this is the register, behind which lies a cozy seating area, always accompanied with a lovely, soothing music choice.
My first venture to Amy’s Bread was with a group of friends before seeing the production of The Ferryman that is currently on Broadway. What I most wanted to try from them was their Brooklyn Blackout cake and some of their titular bread. However, upon entering I was taken aback with the beautiful sight and smell of all the assorted pastries. I was also starving. Luckily, the other friends I had come with ordered a wide variety of products and graciously allowed me to try some of theirs. I personally did end up ordering a slice of their Brooklyn Blackout, and accompanied that with a dinner roll.
I started with the cake – the star of the show. The Brooklyn Blackout, as the name might suggest, is three layers of chocolate cake with a chocolate pudding between each layer, and chocolate icing coating the outside edge and the top. As a life-long chocolate lover, I had high expectations of this chocolate-crazy cake. The first taste delivered on all fronts. The cake was moist and thick and full of chocolaty goodness. This is not the light and fluffy cake you might expect from your typical supermarket bakery, but a cake of substance. To be honest, I can see someone not loving this cake texturally and find it to be too closely textured. I personally love it. As an avid icing lover, I was skeptical of the pudding filling. Why go taking away some of what is arguably the best part of cake? But I was won over by the silky pudding. It worked as a lighter, softer foil to the cake. The icing itself was also ultra-thick. When it comes to icing I typically like something that is more of an in between; think Betty Crocker canned icing. I strive after that texture in my own icing making and desire it on every cake. This icing seemed to have far more butter. There is more substance to it, so thick it is almost fork breaking. Again, not a texture I would normally strive for, but in the context of this cake I loved it. If you love chocolate – and I mean deep, rich, nothing-but-chocolate chocolate time, ultimate chocolate celebration chocolate loving chocolate – then you will love this cake.
If not, then I would direct you to any of their other cakes that I have tried. Something to note is that the texture of both their cake and icing differs depending on the cake. Want a really classic cake with a lighter icing almost like I was talking about earlier? I highly recommend their yellow cake with pink icing! It’s just the cutest darn thing as well as the tastiest. If you love a carrot cake, Amy’s carrot cake is a hearty slice of its kind. A chocolate lover who is maybe not looking for Blackout levels of chocolate would definitely enjoy their devil’s food. I have even tried some of their German chocolate cake and absolutely loved it. As opposed to the German chocolate cake which was the subject of my first post, this slice was moist and chocolaty and lived in perfect harmony with its tasty caramelly, coconut layers. I actually craved it days afterward. German chocolate cake is definitely redeemed in my eyes, and I am excited to continue on my journey of exploring it now that Amy’s has given me hope with it.
Once my cake slice was eaten in full, it was time to tackle the dinner roll. Small, light, golden brown, and shiny, it was the kind of dinner roll I imagine a food stylist would dream of getting to photograph. The inside was just as beautiful as its exterior. This is the kind of bread that all restaurants should serve in their complimentary bread baskets. This is the bread that all Thanksgiving tables should house. This is quintessential bread. Flavorful on its own, but I also see visions of this roll warmed up with a couple pads of garlic butter. I found this to be true of the other types of bread I have sampled from them as well – sourdough, and a plain white loaf. The sourdough was eaten plain, a bite borrowed from my friend who ordered it. The white loaf, however, was eaten with lilikoi jelly compliments of the same Nick mentioned in my previous post. Two high quality ingredients coming together to create a sumptuous meal. If you are one who finds themselves eating bread fairly regularly, I would recommend getting a loaf from Amy’s rather than a prepackaged one from the supermarket. They are all available at a pretty affordable price, and far higher quality then the air-filled sandwich bread found in most households.
Another item of note that I would recommend to anyone is the cinnamon challah knot. About the size of my hand, this challah knot is light, springy, moist, and full of a light cinnamon taste throughout all its knotty goodness. It is a lovely cinnamon treat if you are craving something of the spice but do not want the huge sugary explosion of a cinnamon bun.
Two other goods I was able to taste on that first visit compliments of my friends was a wonderful pumpkin cheesecake, and a pumpkin maple pastry if some sort that I cannot remember the exact nature of, but was also pleasant. One item of theirs that I have not yet been able to try is their sticky bun, which is supposed to be amazing, and will definitely be my next purchase.
All towns have (or at least should have) their local bakery or pastry shop that is home for the locals. Readers hailing from my hometown in Merrimack, NH may think of Buckley’s. Those in the region of Northampton, MA would think of The Roost (which will be getting its own post, being my cake savior this summer). Amy’s is this bakery for New York City. It’s a bakery that’s there for you, before or after a show, available to hang in on a cold day and do a bit of reading with a hot cider or hot chocolate, to have a good conversation with a friend. It’s casual, it’s comfortable, and it’s tasty as heck.