15 Minutes With a Brooklyn Baking Duo

caramel bacon hot tarts recipe
Co-Founders of the Brooklyn bakery Ovenly Agatha Kulaga and Erin Patinkin talk about their new cookbook and more.

Ever wonder what it's like to own one of the hottest bakeries in the business? (We're speaking figuratively, of course.) Ever since opening Ovenly in 2010, Brooklyn-based bakers Agatha Kulaga and Erin Patinkin have learned a thing or two about the business of making dough. We spoke with the duo about everything from their fave kitchen finds to their current cravings:

What's your typical breakfast?

Agatha Kulaga: My regular breakfast routine is soft scrambled eggs from the farmer's market with whole grain toast and cream cheese or full fat yogurt with Ovenly granola (which happens to be gluten free) and a drizzle of hot honey, always with a cup (or two) of Stumptown coffee.

Erin Patinkin: One soft boiled (or soft scrambled depending on my mood) egg and a piece of buttered toast (preferably from the miche break from She Wolf bakery.

Any guilty pleasure foods?

AK: I have many guilty pleasures (some that would make me a little nervous to disclose). At the moment, they are buffalo wings and Friday Night Lights. I have a major crush on Coach Taylor.

EP: Any sort of gummy candy. Swedish fish, sour gummy worms, black licorice, red licorice, Laffy Taffy, orange slice, peach rings, and, my favorite, Starburst.

One kitchen utensil you can't live without:

AK: I cannot live without my bench scraper (great for cutting and portioning dough and for cleaning up) and my stainless steel kitchen ruler (for making perfectly sized pastries). Both are extremely versatile and useful tools in the kitchen. I guess that counts as two tools, both of which I feel pretty attached to.

EP: A bench scraper. You can cut soft doughs, transfer ingredients, clean your bench, and fold pastry with it. It's my most versatile tool.

Foods you won't eat:

AK: I will try anything once! The weirder the texture, the better. I don't dislike any foods except for warm carrots, which I can live without.

EP: Brains. Any kind. I'm a really adventurous eater, but animal brains are my limit.

Indulgence you're currently craving:

AK: Various green and black teas that I brought back from Japan the last time Erin and I were there. I have no idea what some of them are, but I have been experimenting with steeping them in cream for scones, adding them to shortbread, and making tea infused caramel. I adore everything about Japan and am dying to go back!

EP: I've been adding stone-ground spelt flour into a lot of my kitchen experiments. It adds a nutty, savory flavor to pie crusts, quickbreads, cakes, and even homemade pastas.

What would be your last meal on earth:

AK: My last meal on earth would undoubtedly be a plate of sea urchin, goose barnacles, and oysters, eaten on the beach with a Budweiser.

EP: Thinly slices radishes sprinkled with coarse grained sea salt on a hunk of freshly baked, buttered, crust bread with a side of a dozen oysters (West Coast -- maybe a mix of Kumamotos and Olympias) with homemade mignotte sauce and a bottle of ice-cold R. Lopez de Heredia Viña Gravonia Blanco Crianza, Roja. Perfection.

One recipe you cherish:

AK: I cherish my great aunt's Paczki with Prune Butter recipe, which makes an appearance in our cookbook. I never had the chance to meet her and it was the only recipe that was passed down from my father's side of the family. At first, it seemed complicated to make but it is actually a surprisingly straightforward and fun recipe, and ridiculously good when eaten warm. I can usually eat about 3-4 paczki in one sitting (that's a lot).

EP: Chocolate Sour-Cream Cheesecake; it's sweet and sour, cheesy, chocolatey, crunchy, and creamy. This cake not only hits all my favorite flavor points and textures, it also reminds me of my childhood. There are so many moments that I can tie to that recipe (birthdays, holidays, potlucks at the homes of our relatives and family friends) that I cherish.

The one recipe from Ovenly that you're most excited for readers to make:

AK: I think I'm most eager for our readers to make our two recipes that contain mustard (our Mustard Spice Cookies and Cheddar Mustard Scones), just because people are often hesitant to try them when they find out they contain mustard, yet they cannot stop eating them once they take their first bit. The looks on some peoples' faces when they find out the secret ingredient are priceless.

EP: The black caraway-smoked sea salt-dark chocolate variation of our shortbread recipe base is one of my favorites to eat at the bakery. It's not too sweet, super buttery, simple to make, and really unique.

Recipe in Ovenly that best reflects your personality:

AK: The Salted Dark Chocolate Pudding. Both salty and sweet, straightforward yet complex, can stand on its own but is adaptable to any occasion, and squishy. Ohhhhh Yeaaaaaaaah.

EP: Salted caramel sauce. I've been making this recipe for years and I love it. Perfect on caked, ice creams, pies, or just plain eaten with a spoon. Plus is sweet and salty, which is uniquely Ovenly and uniquely me (and Agatha).

Erin Patinkin and Agatha Kulaga-250

Photo: Winona Barton-Ballentine.

Pick up Agatha and Erin's book, Ovenly, here.

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