Let’s Get Baked

Written by Amre Klimchak on . Posted in Eat & Drink, Posts.


 

Young, heavily
tattooed bike aficionados Brad Baker and Megan Blackburn have managed
to craft an old-school, homespun feeling at Champs Family Bakery, their
new vegan treat outpost in Williamsburg. And they aim to build the same
sort of high-quality, familystyle business that’s made Boneshakers,
their vegetarian, bike-themed café on Kingsland Avenue, thrive.

Champs,
like Boneshakers, is a throwback to the days when pluck, elbow grease
and some hard-earned cash were the main ingredients for a successful
business. Baker and Blackburn opened Boneshakers in November 2008 with
very little money, and started Champs in August on a similar
shoe-string budget. But by offering some of the tastiest vegetarian
food in Williamsburg, they have already drawn a steady stream of loyal
customers, many of whom they know on a first-name basis.

“I
don’t know if people know…everything we have, every upgrade, it’s
only because they kept coming,” Blackburn says. “We don’t have any
backing investors, we have no loans, we don’t use credit cards. We’re
just flying by the seat of our pants.”

The
seed for Champs was planted when their homemade vegan goodies began
selling out at Boneshakers, and they realized that they couldn’t meet
the demand in the tiny kitchen there. When the storefront at the corner
of Ainslie and Leonard streets that they had originally wanted for
Boneshakers opened up, they seized the opportunity.

Now
they’ve converted what used to be Pat’s Grocery Store into a spacious
sphere for egg- and dairy-free baked goods that not only supplies
Boneshakers, but also serves the neighborhood. The simple interior,
with its red quarry tile floors, white wood and red brick walls and a
trio of vintage tables with brightly colored chairs, gives it the
feeling of an old-time bakery.

Using
mostly organic ingredients, non-hydrogenated oils and, of course, no
trans fats, they create a rotating assortment of baked goods, some of
which are also gluten free. Fabulous chocolate chip, oatmeal fudge,
peanut butter and snickerdoodle cookies make regular appearances
alongside a variety of luscious fruit-stuffed pies, cakes, scones,
muffins, biscuits, brownies and danishes, with Gimme! Coffee and sodas
on hand, and soy ice cream for pie a la mode.

Using
vegan alternatives to some traditional ingredients, from non-dairy
margarine to tofu cream cheese, they churn out dynamite treats like the
soft, chocolatey Rocky Road cookies ($2.75), packed with walnuts and
vegan marshmallows, and the moist carrot cupcake ($2.75), loaded with shredded carrots and topped with a smooth, rich frosting that has just the perfect amount of sugar. The whole-grain, protein-rich
Superman muffin ($2.75), with quinoa and raisins, is a dense, healthy
snack, and in the peach cream cheese danish ($4), with its ample fruit
atop a sweet creamy layer, it’s clear that dairy and eggs are
superfluous when it comes to baking a delicious pastry.

Though
some are attracted to Champs because they know its pastries are vegan,
Blackburn says they purposely play down the vegan angle in an attempt
to broaden the appeal.

“There
may be a lot of people who buy stuff who don’t even know that it’s
vegan,” she says. “I didn’t want to scream ‘vegan’ because I figured
that might isolate us and scare people off… But just by being a
bakery, everyone comes in.”

>> Champs Family Bakery 176 Ainslie St. (betw. Lorimer & Leonard Sts.), Brooklyn, 718-599-2743.

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