Last week, a friend of ours was almost operatic in her praise of Shandaken Bake, a Catskills-area pastry concern whose wares she’d sampled at last Sunday’s New Amsterdam Market. So we were more than a bit excited to find the bakery’s table amid the crush of pre-Thanksgiving shoppers at yesterday’s market.
Craig Thompson, Shandaken’s proprietor, was manning the table alongside a gentleman outfitted in an extremely dapper red hunter’s jacket, and gave us generous samples of cranberry and trail bars, the latter of which will be making its way into Fat Pants Friday sooner rather than later.
But the thing that most knocked our collective socks off was this fat morsel of maple-parsnip bread. Although we’d never before encountered the root vegetable in loaf form, Shandaken has convinced us that it deserves a pride of place in the quick-bread pantheon. Parsnip’s inherent sweetness makes it as natural a fit for baked goods as carrots, pumpkin, or sweet potatoes; here, combined with maple syrup, it creates a bread that’s unbelievably moist and tender.
The bread’s sweetness seems to rely almost entirely on its eponymous ingredients, so while it’s certainly on the sweeter end of the spectrum, it’s far from cloying — the maple syrup in particular imparts depth and body. Overall, the flavor is as big and generous as the portion it’s served in, and would work well with a morning dose of coffee or dunked in a cup of tea. Or, as we can attest, just scarfed down on its lonesome
Thompson expects to return to the market until the end of the season on December 19, and we certainly plan to be there to eat whatever he has to sell.