Before I began writing this blog, I had never heard of Flour Bakery. Almost immediately after subscribing to local and not-so-local baking blogs, however, I learned a lot about Joanne Chang and her famous bakery chain.
I’ve read many blog posts about visits to the bakery, which has three total locations in Boston and Cambridge, and seen myriad baked goods made from Chang’s very popular cookbook, Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston’s Flour Bakery + Cafe.
I finally got my chance to go to the bakery’s original location in the South End on Monday evening before covering an event. I walked in not knowing what to expect, and luckily had a few minutes to wait in line to ponder the extensive sandwich menu, which is on a large blackboard behind the counter. Then, I realized I also had to choose a dessert from their massive bakery cases. I definitely didn’t have time to inspect everything that was available, but I ended up choosing what was right in front of me, the Belgian Chocolate Brownie.
Though the approximately 8 tables were full when I arrived, I was able to find a seat by the time I ordered and paid, probably because I was there on an off-time – 6:30 on a Monday night. I’ve heard this place can be extremely chaotic and crowded on weekend mornings.
I only had to wait about five minutes for my food to be ready. I ordered the grilled portobello melt, which had big portobello mushrooms, fresh mozzarella cheese, roasted tomatoes and basil pesto. I believe it came on wheat bread, though I’m not entirely sure.
What a great choice! No one ingredient overpowered another, the tomatoes weren’t too messy, and the mozzarella had the perfect amount of melt. My only issue was that some of the mushrooms were so big that I couldn’t fully bite into them, making the process a little messy and unrefined. The sandwich was completely filling, though. After not having eaten since a late-morning breakfast, I probably ate it a little too fast but I was stuffed after just the sandwich alone.
I attempted to eat my giant brownie, which seemed like it was the size of a quarter of a regular 8 x 8 inch pan, but only made it a few bites in before I needed to leave.
I put the brownie in a box to save for when I got home. I’m glad I did this because I was able to savor the rich, fudgy flavor of the brownie at home, instead of rushing to eat it in the bakery. What I liked most about this brownie was that it had a crusty exterior but was still most on the inside.
I have no idea how many calories one of these massive desserts is, but I’m sure there was enough sugar and saturated fat in one to last me a whole day, if not two. But this was definitely an indulgence! I’m glad I don’t live closer, or my arteries would be in trouble.
I would love to go back soon and try some of their other treats, like the double chocolate cookies, homemade oreos (only $ .75 each, and they’re big) or famous sticky buns.
Interested in trying to do some Flour-type baking yourself? Some bakers have posted a few of their own attempts at Chang’s recipes to their blogs.
Over at Sweetly Serendipity, there are the recipes for and pictures of the Apple Snacking Cake and Lemon Ginger Scones. For the more pastry-minded, experienced bakers, The Kitchn has a step-by-step guide to making the bakery’s Homemade Pop-Tarts.