Brooklyn's Star Bakers in Austin

Ovenly owners talk entrepreneurship, teach baking class

Kulaga (l) and Patinkin (Photo by www.ovenly.com)

Passionate self-taught bakers Erin Patinkin and Agatha Kulaga met in a food-focused Brooklyn book club in 2009 and immediately recognized each other as kindred spirits. They launched Ovenly as a wholesale business in 2010 and grew it into a wildly popular bakery in Brooklyn's Greenpoint neighborhood by 2012.

The local leg of their tour of the Central Market Cooking Schools brings the Ovenly founders to Austin today. They'll pay a visit to former New Yorker Jill Bradshaw at her chic Eastside boutique and cafe, Friends and Neighbors, in the early afternoon. Patinkin and Kulaga will chat with customers about their successful entrepreneurial endeavor while signing copies of their first cookbook, Ovenly: Sweet and Salty Recipes From New York's Most Creative Bakery (Harlequin Non-Fiction, $29.95, 217pp.). The cafe will serve Ovenly's signature Stumptown Shorties, an espresso-enhanced cookie recipe featured in the book, as well as brewed Stumptown coffee.

After the reception at Friends and Neighbors, Patinkin and Kulaga will move on to Central Market where they'll present an evening class based on both sweet and savory recipes. The ladies will share insights about about how they built a business that was named "Best New Bakery in New York in 2013" by Time Out New York and heralded everywhere from The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal to The Chew and the Huffington Post. Some spaces are still available for tonight's class and copies of the book will be for sale; Patinkin and Kulaga will be glad to sign them afterwards.

I've had some fun with Ovenly's book, discovering that the recipes ably demonstrate the authors' fondness for both sweet treats and savory snacks, and sometimes a mixture of the two at once, as in the mustard spice cookies or salted dark chocolate pudding. I've already got my eye on the eggnog sandwich cookies for a new holiday treat this year. The authors lovingly recount stories of shared family recipes, offering a few treasures that represent their shared Eastern European heritage, like packi (Polish doughnuts) and hamantaschen (fruit-filled pastries). And in keeping with Brooklyn's hip culinary renaissance, Patinkin and Kulaga have also incorporated flavors from other prominent Brooklyn neighbors, such as beer from the Brooklyn Brewery in the spicy bacon caramel corn.

Because the book was written by self-taught home bakers, the recipe instructions are well thought out and accessible to home cooks. It's also helpful that many of the recipes come complete with photographs of the process necessary for success – things like weaving a lattice top for pie, assembling the popular hot tarts, or frosting layer cakes. The chapter on quick breads offers a basic recipe with a host of tasty variations while many other recipes include notes on proper execution or suggestions on how to "get creative" with changes. The chapter introductions and recipe headnotes are chock full of anecdotes about the birth and growth of the business, frankly discussing successes and failures alike. It's a good read for anyone interested in culinary entrepreneurship and a tasty addition to the baking section of any cookbook collection.

Book signing
Friends and Neighbors
Tuesday, Dec. 2, 1-3pm
2614 E. Cesar Chavez, 512/524-1271
www.friendsaustin.com

Cooking class
Central Market Cooking School
Tuesday, Dec. 2, 6:30-9pm
4001 N. Lamar, 512/206-1014
www.centralmarket.com

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