Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Getting Sweet on Amy's Bread

Approximately once a month, the James Beard Foundation hosts an event called Beard on Books. These events bring in authors of culinary books to read from their works and answer questions from the audience. Many food world luminaries have graced the dais here: Danny Meyer, Alex Prudhomme, David Kamp, and Barbara Fairchild just to name a few. Today Amy Scherber and Toy Kim Dupree of the beloved Amy's Bread read from their new cookbook.

Since the first loaf exited the Hell's Kitchen(the NYC neighborhood not the TV show) oven in 1992, Amy's Bread has become a NYC institution. Chef Scherber envisioned a neighborhood bakery where locals came in to literally pick up their daily bread. As the bakery became more popular, the public requested sweeter offerings. Initially reluctant, Amy's Bread began to offer cakes, cookies, pastries and more. Now, the bakery has a separate kitchen and bakers to prepare these sweet things. The growth of the this side of the business led Scherber and Dupree to write a cookbook of their recipes, "The Sweeter Side of Amy's Bread".

The event at the Beard House was fun as usual. A few treats are usually offered at these readings, but Chefs Scherber and Dupree went all out. A table was filled with two types of quiche, scones, cookies, chubbies and other delights. The reading itself was also delightful. Scherber and Dupree traded off regaling the audience with passages from the book. Besides the usual recipes, the book contains some historical tales of Amy's Bread and profiles of some of their customers and employees. A particularly fun story was the profile of one of their customers still going strong at 105! It appears that while an apple a day keeps the doctor away, a slice of cake a day keeps the Grim Reaper at bay.

After a Q and A session, I purchased a copy of the book and chatted briefly with Amy Scherber and Toy Kim Dupree. They graciously signed the book for me before I had to rush back to work.

I did not have a chance to go over the book in detail yet. It does have some amazing photos taken by Aimee Herring. Another feature I really like is that the recipes are given in both weights and volume. It certainly looks like this book will be seeing lots of action in the upcoming month.

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