by Jeffrey Embleton
St. Patrick’s Day is here, offering whatever excuse one might need to drink green beer while wearing a green plastic derby hat. If you’d like to pair that beer with something hearty and festive, consider the shamrock-shaped Shortbread, or Irish soda bread from Baker’s Bounty, one of the New York City Greenmarket program’s original vendors, and a weekly mainstay at the Borough Hall, Grand Army Plaza, Fort Green and McCarren Park Greenmarkets.
Baker’s Bounty features a wide variety of breads, pastries and seasonal holiday treats. Browsing for something sweet and local at the Borough Hall Greenmarket on a recent weekend, I stopped to chat with Megan Stone, as assistant manager at Baker’s Bounty and an ardent advocate of enjoying good bread with a good meal.
Baker’s Bounty’s Irish soda bread is an annual treat. Baker Kim LaPrete estimates that she bakes and sells more than 500 loaves of the soda bread every March, in the run-up to St. Patrick’s Day. Kim’s husband is of Irish stock, but that’s not why they bake the Soda Bread. “We try to hit every holiday,” says Kim, “We’re an international bakery. Growing up in a bakery you know all the holidays. At the New York City Greenmarkets, we have customers of just about every nationality and religion.”
When asked about any secret ingredients in her version of the Irish classic, Kim laughs and sayd, “Oh I can’t give you my recipe!”
Baker’s Bounty was started in 1978 by Jim LaPrete with the simply started goal of making, “fresh, sweet and savory treats for people to enjoy.” The LaPrete family has been selling at the Union Square Greenmarket since the market was launched, over thirty years ago. The business is a family affair, with Kim now handling the baking with old-fashioned recipes that were old-fashioned when her father began using them decades ago.
Baker’s Bounty sells almost exclusively at farmers markets in New York and New Jersey. Based in Union County, New Jersey, the bakery exclusively uses locally grown and milled flours, dairy, herbs, fruit and vegetables.
Kim says that fall is the peak season for variety in the number of breads they bake, but every season has its specialties. She’s looking forward to the diversity that comes with warming weather. “We do whatever is in season,” she says.
Perhaps more than any of its ingredients, Baker’s Bounty sources its herbs as locally as you can get – from their backyard. Kim’s starter plants are sourced from Greenmarket comrades Evolutionary Organics. Kim planted garlic for the first time this year, and once the thirty-foot patch has matured, that backyard garlic will find its way into all kinds of seasonal breads.
Megan says her top-selling bread is the Whole Wheat Walnut Raisin bread, which is always baked on market mornings. Her favorite way to eat it? Smeared with goat cheese and drizzled with honey from other Greenmarket farmers.
You can find Baker’s Bounty in Brooklyn at the Grand Army Plaza, Borough Hall, Fort Greene and Greenpoint McCarren Park Greenmarkets each week, year-round.