02_05_baked_cakes.jpgThis weekend Gothamist got the chance to attend the grand opening of Baked, the most recent in a long line of upscale, nostalgia-driven, classic-Americana dessert bakeries. If Magnolia is the bakery that launched a thousand cupcakes, then Baked is the latest in that line.

And if New York's cupcake obsession can be accurately measured in internet chatter on the subject, then yet another new take on the old-fashioned American sweet tooth will be at no risk of being redundant.

While our previous culinary experiences in Red Hook have been of a distinctly Latino variety, we were curious to try Baked's baked goods and see if they measured up.

We sampled a variety of their "juniors" (cupcake versions of their signature cakes--$2 each)--Red Hook red hot, malted chocolate cake, and dreamy coconut cream cake--as well as their homemade marshmallows and spicy brownie.

The verdict? Baked measures up to the competition and carves out its own little niche: these desserts may be reminders of childhood, yet they're not-too-sweet, complex flavors make them grown-up enough for adult palates.

Take the Red Hook red hot (their take on the Southern red-velvet-cake tradition) with its less-traditional cocoa addition, and lightly cinnamony frosting with a sprinkle of red hot candies for added punch. The cake base itself is flavorful, dense, distinct. And that cinammon infusion in the frosting provides a great counterpoint to the tender crumb of the cake.

Meanwhile, the malted chocolate cake "junior" transforms memories of malted milk shakes--the frosting is fluffy and light, more creamy than sugary, and topped with a malt ball as both decoration and added crunch.

But Gothamist was particularly fond of the coconut "junior" cake, which offered a dense, moist white cake base and a frosting that provided just enough coconut to satisfy, instead of the "blizzard" of flakes that some cakes wear.

The homemade marshmallows come in both traditional vanilla and the less common chocolate, and like other bakery marshmallows, put supermarket marshmallows to shame. Certainly worth a purchase to keep on hand for homemade hot chocolate or fondue. (50 cents each or $6 for a 12-count tin.)

The spicy brownie tasted much like our favorite spicy hot chocolate (MarieBelle and Jacques Torres); a level of spice that is judicious yet undeniably there. You can't miss it. (Other brownie flavors include deep dark, peanut butter, pecan and lime. $2.50 each or $22.00 for an 8-count box set.)

Other treats on the menu (that we didn't get a chance to taste) include cheesecake, icebox cake, tarts, pies, cookies, biscotti, lemon bars, Gorilla coffee, and teas from Serendipitea. There is also talk of adding a few lunchtime menu options (sandwiches and the like), although that hasn't happened quite yet.

Finally, we have to offer praise for the fact that Baked has studiously avoided the 1950s-Americana design style that far too many Magnolia clones have embraced. Clearly that look has been done to death by now, and so Gothamist welcomed the wacky ski-lodge-meets-Louis-XIV look that Baked goes for. The juxtaposition may seem a bit strange at first, but quickly grows on you--especially after you've eaten a cupcake or two.


For more photos of Baked, see Gothamist's Flickr slide show.

Baked, 359 Van Brunt Street, Red Hook Brooklyn, (718) 222-0345