Breads Bakery is a New York institution dedicated to mouthwatering bread, pastries and, crucially, its world-famous, self-trademarked babka. But is something else threatening to take center stage? Breads Bakery’s newly-created strudel, the result of a whole lot of recipe tweaking, is the bakery’s newest pastry masterpiece. I spoke to Breads Pastry and Viennoiserie Manager Edan Leshnick about the process of creating a signature strudel.
“At this point we’re making hundreds of strudels a day,” he said. The bakery in the back of Breads is full of employees scurrying around its Union Square location, a pleasant, large room flooded with natural light and the smell of pastry.
On a food research trip to Paris, sponsored by Breads owner Gadi Peleg, Leshnick was struck by the chiffre d’affaires pomme (an apple turnover to us commoners). “What can we do that’s Breads Bakery, using that inspiration?” he asked himself. Thus the strudel was born. Breads Bakery uses an inverse puff on their strudel, meaning the butter is on the outside, engulfing the dough. “When you bite into it you feel the presence of the butter on the outside. It’s crispy, the layers are flaky, it creates a huge mess on the table when you eat it…”
One unexpected strudel surprise? “People are really keen on the sauerkraut,” said a smiling Leshnick. “We weren’t sure how it would be accepted, but people are really into it.” In fact, one of the strudel’s most unexpected fans was Martha Stewart, who had a Breads Bakery chef baking that strudel on an episode of “Martha Bakes.”
“I see it as [the babka’s] more mature, adult brother,” Leshnick says.
Customers have been queuing up for a taste of Breads Bakery’s pastry evolution. The strudels were as light, flaky and messy as Leshnick predicted they would be.
Shira Feder is a writer. She’s at firstname.lastname@example.org and @shirafeder