Massachusetts 2012: Flour bakery and MIT

Get ready for a slew of sugar-filled posts because I’m going to write about all the sugar I had in Boston! The number of independent bakeries, cafes, froyo shops, ice cream shops in Massachusetts, Cambridge in particular, is mind-boggling. Most of the time they were shops I stumbled upon- usually it’s not a planned visit.

There is a bakery just a few blocks away from our hotel called Flour Bakery. Helmed by Joanne Chang (Harvard Graduate. And she’s not the only alumni who has struck it big in the food business! Another one of my favourite places is also run by Harvard and MIT grads ;))

Upon entering you’ll be hit by the sweet aromas of sugar and butter. Then in a few moments you’ll be faced with having to make a choice between a wide array of baked goods stacked in front of you. I’m not even talking about the menu above featuring the savories!

After much deliberation I got two things: A sticky bun and a slice of their banana bread

To think I was content with the sticky bun from Simply Bread. It doesn’t even come close! The broiche here is airy, light as a feather and as a result, so easy to tear apart. The unmistakable buttery fragrance is not masked despite of all the other rich flavours going on. You get a textural contrast with every bite from the chopped pecans rolled up within the bun. Then there is what Joanne Chang calls “goo”- a thick caramel with more pecans. The rolled up brioche dough is actually soaked overnight in this “goo” before it’s baked and overturned to give you the final, sticky product. I love the caramel because it’s not plain, sugary sweet. I get the muskiness of honey and I suppose salt was added to give it more depth of flavour.

Bobby Flay unrolls Joanne Chang’s sticky bun and calls it “a trail of deliciousness”. I can’t agree more.

Was watching him on Unique Eats just this morning as he waxed lyrical about her sticky buns. Well he better because she beat his sticky bun in Throwdown with Bobby Flay hehe.

This huge slab of banana bread may look unassuming, but just one bite and you’ll understand why I’m gushing about it. It’s incredibly soft and light, fine crumbed and so easy to eat. There is that occasional mushy chunk of banana or crunch from the walnuts. It’s not chunky- there is a good balance of chunks and batter such that you get a nice textural balance. I also like that it’s not overly sweet.

Portions are really big. If you think you’ll have difficulties finishing do a take-away instead. They store it in a paper box (above) so it’s easy to carry around and the pastries won’t be ruined so easily.

Their Central Square outlet is a few blocks away from the main campus of MIT. Download MIT’s app (MIT mobile) and self-guide. There is a route traced out for you and it can even track your position (strong WIFI within the campus) so it’s really not that difficult to walk around on your own. Directions are given to a T (pictures of the door you are supposed to see in front of you, no kidding) so no worries about getting lost.

Bottom far right photo: Building 7, entrance to MIT and where you’ll find the visitor centre

Infinite Corridor, Random doors, The Great Dome overlooking Killian Court

Ceiling of Lobby 7, part of the Stata Centre, quirky MIT Hack (read more about the “hack-ing” tradition here)

To avoid the crowds come early and self-guide. MIT is said to have 7 miles of connecting corridors and buildings and the best part is most places are open to the public. Don’t abuse this- leave the students alone and don’t make so much noise! It was great fun just wandering around in this labyrinth of corridors.

After your adventure, pop over to Flour Bakery for brunch ;)

Locations:

Central Square (near MIT) 190 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge MA 02139
617.225.2525 Mon-Fri 7a-8p; Sat 8a-6p; Sun 9a-5p

Fort Point Channel 12 Farnsworth St., Boston MA 02210
617.338.4333 Mon-Fri 7a-7p; Sat 8a-6p; Sun 9a-5p

South End 1595 Washington St., Boston MA 02118
617.267.4300 Mon-Fri 7a-9p; Sat 8a-6p; Sun 8a-5p

Note: I found Joanne Chang’s recipes for her banana bread and sticky bun. The former looks straightforward, will try it out soon!

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