Friday afternoon at 3:30, and it’s quiet at The Kneaded Bread; the bakery is experiencing its late-afternoon lull. In the display case, a backward-facing label signals that there are no more fat loaves of Provolone bread with a skirt of cheese crisped by the oven. Owners Jennifer and Jeffrey Kohn are busy brushing crumbs off counters and debating the need for better signage about gluten-free sandwich options.
(Above) Owners of The Kneaded Bread, Jeffrey and Jennifer Kohn; (Below) An 18th-century Parisian bread rack (a gift from Jennifer’s father) displays what’s left of the day’s selection.
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It’s been a long road to becoming the county’s best-regarded bread bakery. When they opened nearly 19 years ago, the business was just the couple and one baker (they now have more than 20 employees). “We put up a sign ‘Coming Soon Fresh Baked Artisan Bread,’ and people were like, ‘What is artisan?’” says Jennifer. For three years, they’d wake up at 4 a.m. and work well into the night. “We got married six months after opening, and we couldn’t wait for the honeymoon, just to sleep,” she recollects. Two expansions grew the bakery to its current size, which includes desserts, soups, sandwiches, and a gourmet salad bar.
Everything, from a complex braided challah to croutons, is made from scratch. “With today’s technology, you could own a bakery and buy everything proof-and-bake,” says Jeffrey. “We make everything every day. It’s probably only four hours a day that somebody isn’t here.” In the back, two ovens (including a five-ton behemoth imported from Germany) churn out brioche, potato-rosemary loaves, and seasonal pumpkin rounds. North Dakota stone-ground whole-wheat flour is stacked high among blocks of chocolate, sacks of seeds for their multigrain, and cinnamon sugar just waiting to be swirled into dough. A walk-in fridge is full of poppy-onion bread, crusty country rounds, and raisin-walnut loaves, doing a two-day cold rise before being baked this weekend.
Back in front, Jennifer pauses to bag up the day’s leftovers to donate to Bronx-based Part of the Solution. “At seven in the morning, we get working-class people coming in for a muffin or a coffee,” says Jeffrey. “If you come at lunchtime, everyone’s coming from SoulCycle.”
Working here is “a feel-good thing,” Jennifer adds. “We’ve seen people who were pregnant when we opened, whose kids are now in college. It’s their favorite place.”