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Entries in bricohe (1)

Monday
Nov072011

Two Standouts from Levain Bakery

Lately, we have been feasting on a conglomeration of pumpkin-related foodstuffs. This will (may?) be the last pumpkin-related post until I post the PUMPKINS OF GLORY online magazine with bonus recipes.

Because who doesn't want bonus recipes? And pumpkins of glory?

But to eeeeease us back into normal food, I am going to report on a bakery. A bakery in my new neighborhood, the Upper West Side. A bakery called Levain Bakery.

"Levain" is a leavaning agent used in place of yeast to make dough rise. Do you remember when I experimented (and failed) in trying to grow my own? Levain is old school. This is what bakers did before they could buy mini packets of "Active Dry Yeast" on the shelves on Fairway. Thank goodness I was not one of those bakers. I'd have to find new employment as a blacksmith or a tallow maker. Although why I think I'd have better luck with tallow is beyond me.

Anyway! We were talking about a bakery named after a bacteria culture, so let's get back to it.

Old school bread making using levain seems like it should taste better. And bakeries that rely upon these techniques should in my opinion produce tastier bread. Levain Bakery is successful in this regard.

I walked into their tiny 74th Street location and was immediately overwhelmed by the appetizing selection. The kind attendant behind the counter asked if he could help me. My response, "I need a minute."

In fact, I needed a minute to wipe the tears of carbohydrate desire from my eyes as I perused the options behind the glass which included oversized puffy brioche, thickly sliced pumpkin bread, cinnamon rolls, chocolate stuffed brioche, powdered sugar thingies, and etc. Holy levain!

The attendant approached me apprehensively once more, "Do you need another minute?" I couldn't tell if he was making fun of me (likely), so I rattled off my request for two plain brioche and 2 slices of pumpkin bread.

These days I always get two: one for photographing and one for eating.

I thought the brioche would pair nicely with the pumpkin butter, and I was correct. The slightly sweet taste and ever so light and fluffy texture was a perfect match for the hearty sweet and spicy butter (you can read more about that here with recipes).

As for the pumpkin bread, I thought smearing pumpkin on pumpkin might be a little much - even for me. So I chose a cream and raspberry jam combination, which when you mush them together make a lovely pink color. This raspberry creaminess was an excellent topper for the the dense bread.

This pumpkin bread was thick – about an inch and a half. It was moist – no dry crumbling here! And it was spiced just right with a hint of clove (I'm guessing, but I think I'm correct) that I happened to love with pumpkin flavor.

I may have a new favorite bakery. But just to be sure, I'm going to have to eat through the rest of their admirable options. And of course, tell you about them. In the meantime, if you can, take the 1,2 or 3 train up to 72nd, and walk on over the Levain Bakery. I'll meet you there, but I might need a minute. Or two.

Levain Bakery
167 West 74th Street  New York, NY 10023
(212) 874-6080