Now, it is well established in the 518 blogosphere that All Good Bakers is delicious. We've got derryX, the From Scratch Club gals, Albany Jane, Jen is Green, DelSo, Capital to Capital - just to name a handful. Scott and I also tried their foods before at the Albany Wine & Dine Festival.
From my point of view, I'm not so much in the market for baked goods as I am usually looking for friends who I can drop off rugelach or cakepops at their houses because I have made too many of something that sounded interesting. It is funny that baking things has pretty much become my hobby considering that I'd probably be fine with a diet of oatmeal, chicken noodle soup, penne alla vodka and BLTs. Most nights I'd rather have a small bit of sherry before bed than a slice of anything sweet. But, my interest in baking has grown so much in recent years that I have a couple of times read Dorie Greenspan in the bathtub. I think that says it all right there. Baking things makes your house smell amazing. It is a cheap hobby because most of the time you pretty much need butter, flour, sugar, eggs, and not much else. It isn't that I necessarily want to eat it all, it is that I want to know how it is made. Also, despite the efforts of Edible Arrangements and Harry & David's with their pears, showing up to a meeting with a plate of cookies makes you a whole lot more popular than showing up with healthier options. Who doesn't love a friend or coworker who shows up with cookies? So for me, buying baked goods would be a ruined chance to have a little fun in the kitchen. Especially with bread, once you realize how easy and cheap it is to make yourself and how much better it is fresh right out of the oven, why would you ever purchase baked goods?
Well. We do not live a on ranch somewhere, and we all actually have modern lives where we get out and do things. Making bread yourself may be cheap and easy, but it is also time consuming. If I am going to pay for baked goods though, I definitely don't want it to be worse than what I could have made. There is a little market near my work that literally takes cookies right out of the oven and puts them on a cooling rack next to the cash register (very sneaky). Those cookies taste almost exactly like ones I would make if I were at home (and I mean that as a total compliment), but of course I'm not because I am working at a computer in an office all day. The more you get used to really fresh baked goods, the more you are disappointed by lesser products. I am here to tell you, along with everyone else in this town, that All Good Bakers does not disappoint.
Last Saturday, I woke up late after hosting my Hawaiian themed party the night before. We had some tropical chicken salad left and not a carb in the house. My husband got up and ran over to Delaware Ave., and came back with a wheat loaf as good as the one I could have spent all morning making had I not been sleeping. It was the best sandwich ever (with a little avocado and watercress slipped in there).
Look at that beautiful wheat loaf. It has a great structure - the perfect balance between tender and firm. It is not dried out, and is obviously very, very fresh. It smells amazing. It has a great flavor and the right firmness on the crust. To me, it tastes very, very similar to my wheat loaf recipe from Baking with Julia. I remember when I first started baking bread being so impressed with what you could do at home compared to supermarket loaves, but this wheat loaf is something very special. It is as good as anything anyone could hope to make themselves or buy anywhere.
We are lucky to have these folks around! Not just because of the amazing baked goods, but because they are adorable. Did you read this post? Adorable. We saw the Papa Baker walking around Oliver's Beverage Center with his little daughter while he was picking out the Vermont organic beer (of course he was), and the little girl was trying to climb up the shelves. In the calmest, sweetest voice he said "Now, sweetie, that is dangerous. You should not do that. You are going to break all the bottles." And she stopped. Totally adorable. That I thought this was a noteworthy event totally adds to my friend Jessica's point that since we don't have actual celebrities in Albany, we make our own little local celebrities. How can you not love these people? Apparently, they also remember my husband's name. I'll just have to make it in for some actual lunch sometime soon, but I definitely enjoy their wheat loaf despite having all my own baking obsessions.