The holiday season at Baked, Brooklyn's best and hippest bakery, is relentless. Owners Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito go through approximately two tons of sugar (and that's just the granulated kind) in a month and work crazy hours to fill orders. but on christmas day, the two business partners take a break from all that manic baking to host a potluck dinner for staffers who are too busy to go home, a meal featuring all types of savory foods in addition to the sweet kind. "Roasting pork becomes really appealing when you've been baking brownies nonstop," Poliafito says.
© Ditte Isager
That isn't to dismiss their commitment to brownies. "When we opened Baked in 2005, there were plenty of cupcake specialists," says Lewis. "We had a vision of the ultimate brownie." Indeed, in addition to its amazing layer cakes, whoopie pies and other brilliantly updated retro-American desserts, Baked sells 15 kinds of brownies and bar cookies, including one with brewer's malt, Baked's signature flavor. "I knew malt existed before I met Matt," says Poliafito. "I just didn't know you could put it in everything." The modern, streamlined look of Baked matches its food sensibility. "Lace curtains drive me bananas," says Poliafito.
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Lewis and Poliafito have been friends since they met at the advertising firm Deutsch in Manhattan in 2001. Lewis, an avid baker since his teen years, took evening confectionery classes and eventually opened one of America's first serious chocolate stores, Chocolate Bar; Poliafito designed the website. Then the two debuted Baked. An offshoot in Charleston, South Carolina, and a cookbook, Baked, followed; next fall, they'll release Baked Explorations.