by Eliza Sullivan
Photography courtesy of Flour Bakery & Cafe Instagram
The first location of Joanne Chang’s Flour Bakery and Cafe opened in 2000 in the South End on Washington Street. That first bakery fulfilled Chang’s mission of becoming a neighborhood eatery and she expanded to continue opening locations over the last 18 years. The second location opened in 2007 and the newest location opened just last year.
Chang began her career first as a management consultant after graduating with honors from Harvard University. A few years later, she followed her passion, choosing to take a year off from the 9-5 to pursue her passion for pastry—and she never went back.
Now with seven bakeries, plus the South End restaurant Myers and Chang, it’s clear that her choice to head into the kitchen has worked out. Across Boston and Cambridge, Flour has fans of all ages.
In 2007, Chang beat Food Network Chef Bobby Flay on his televised “Throwdown” with her Sticky Bun, which has now become Flour’s signature pastry. Made by rolling buttery brioche dough around cinnamon, brown sugar, and pecans, the rolls treats are then topped with caramel “goo,” which truly lives up to its name. That win put Flour on a national map, with people coming into the bakery just to try the pastry that beat Bobby Flay.
Flour’s reach across Boston isn’t limited only to the pastries and coffee in store. From the beginning, becoming a part of the Boston community was a part of the plan for Chang. Through participation in charitable and community efforts, the brand has continued to do so, with everyone from Chang herself, to store managers, to counter staff heading out to events and fundraisers. The emphasis on community also extends to the staff, with each bakery functioning as a close knit team.
The bakery’s banana bread may seem simple, but the careful attention to detail makes this a great option for any college student looking to add to their usual breakfast or afternoon snack routine.
One and two-thirds cups all-purpose flour
One teaspoon baking soda
A quarter teaspoon ground cinnamon
Half a teaspoon salt
One cup plus two tablespoons sugar
Half a cup oil
Three and a half bananas, overripe, mashed
Two tablespoons creme fraiche or sour cream
One teaspoons vanilla extract
Two-third of a cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
Set oven to 350 degrees F.
Line the bottom of a loaf pan with parchment paper.
Sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.
Beat sugar and eggs with a whisk until light and fluffy, about 10 minutes.
Drizzle in oil.
Add mashed bananas, creme fraiche and vanilla.
Fold in dry ingredients and nuts.
Pour into a lined loaf pan and bake for about 45 minutes to 1 hour.