Most of us at Catbird cannot at all resist a sweet treat, so of course Maureen and I jumped at the chance to have a cupcake-and-jewels breakfast with the ladies of Ovenly. Tucked at the end of an industrial waterfront row in Greenpoint is where you'll find their bakery. A tall vase of fresh-cut flowers and farm eggs greeted us when we walked in, but their centered glass case is what really grabs you. Tray by tray sits their trademark treats: Brooklyn Blackout cupcakes, pistachio agave cookies, and mustard seed cheddar scones.
Founders Erin and Agatha opened their bakery in 2012, following a whirlwind wholesale success seen in the brand’s first year.
Tell us how Ovenly came to be.
A week after we first met in a food-focused book club, we sat down for coffee to start talking about beginning a business together. We chatted for about a year and decided to found a bar snack company; by a twist of fate, our first client's company was a bar/cafe and she asked us to both make her bar snacks AND her morning pastries. We said yes and Ovenly was officially born. For the first 1.5 years we wholesaled our baked goods, and then in spring 2012 opened our bakeshop on Greenpoint Avenue. We are definitely accidental entrepreneurs--we had no idea that just mere months after we started with our first client we would quit our desk jobs to run our own business full-time.
What are your favorite picks from Ovenly's current menu?
Our vegan salted-chocolate chip cookie and our currant-rosemary scone are our all-time favorites on the menu.
We have to ask, sweet or savory?
Erin: Sweet. Agatha: Savory
How do you go about experimenting with new recipes? Are there any ingredients you're curious to try next?
We usually start by buying a bottle of wine and thinking of flavor combinations that sound delicious. After that, we brainstorm the type of baked good that would be perfect for those combos, then we go to the kitchen to experiment. One of our next experiments will be roasted rhubarb shortcakes with citrus-infused whipped cream.
Baking can sometimes feel like it requires a lot of precision. Can you give us a beginner's recipe for those of us who haven't quite mastered the art of concentration?
Our gluten-free peanut butter cookie from the Ovenly cookbook is the easiest thing on the planet. All you need is five ingredients, a mixing bowl, and a spatula (and maybe a spoon or a scoop, too).
1 3/4 cups (packed) light brown sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups peanut butter*
Coarse-grained sea salt, for garnish
*While the all-natural stuff works just fine for this cookie, Skippy is our peanut butter brand of choice for this recipe as we’ve found the dough retains its shape best with it.
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper.
2. In a medium bowl, vigorously whisk together the light brown sugar and eggs until incorporated. Whisk in the vanilla extract. Add the peanut butter and mix with a spatula until smooth and completely incorporated, and until no ribbons of peanut butter can be seen. You know the dough is ready when it has the consistency of Play-Doh.
3. Using a scoop or a spoon, form the dough into 12 approximately 2-inch (2- to 2 1/4-ounce) balls and place them on the prepared rimmed sheet pan. For smaller cookies, use a heaping tablespoon.
4. Sprinkle the dough balls lightly with coarse-grained sea salt just before baking. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes, turning the rimmed sheet pan once halfway through baking (for smaller cookies, bake for 16 to 18 minutes). When finished, the cookies will be lightly golden and cracked on top. Let cool completely before serving.
5. You can bake these cookies as soon as the dough is prepared, but they will retain their shape better if you freeze them for 15 minutes before baking.
Makes 12 large cookies; 24 small cookies
|Recipe excerpted from Ovenly by Agatha Kulaga & Erin Patinkin (Harlequin). Copyright © 2014.
SPOILER ALERT FOR OUR NYC KITTENS: A rather large Ovenly treat might be making its way over to our Bedford Avenue storefront in the coming weeks. After all, it is our 10th birthday and we must blow out our candles! Follow @catbirdnyc to stay in the loop.
All photos by Maureen Peabody