Joanne Chang's Flour Power
By Victoria Abbott Riccardi
Mention the name Joanne Chang and the word “sweet” comes to mind, not only for her disposition, but also her role as pastry chef and owner of three Flour Bakery + Cafés (two in Boston and one in Cambridge). It doesn’t hurt that ice cream is her favorite food.
But there is a savory side to this culinary entrepreneur: She’s the chef and co-owner of Myers + Chang restaurant with her husband, Christopher Myers, and her second-favorite food is pizza.
“I love strong, pure flavors,” says Chang, who describes her culinary style as “punchy and craveable.” For savory cooking, this means using plenty of soy sauce, toasted sesame oil, rice vinegar, sriracha and Asian herbs. For pastry she likes to keep things simple, highlighting ripe fruit or high-quality chocolate as the sweet’s main flavor, as with her chocolate cupcakes and sticky buns, the most popular pastries she sells by far. “I’m not into desserts that are too sweet or have things piled on like caramel or frosting,” she says. Her perfect pastry is one that “when I try a bite, I can’t stop eating it.”
When asked what inspires her, she immediately mentions her staff. “They are so passionate about making the best food they can, and they’re always inspiring me to come up with ways we can make Flour and Myers + Chang better.” Traveling also fuels her creativity, as evidenced by a recent trip to Istanbul.
“I adored the Turkish delight we saw everywhere, especially the pistachio ones. The meze style of eating was really fun too,” she says, noting how the small plates style is similar to her menu at Myers + Chang. “We had delicious manti, an itty-bitty meat-filled ravioli, and Christopher and I thought how fun it would be to make Chinese manti and fill them with ground pork and maybe float them in a hot-and-sour broth.”
As if Chang’s life isn’t busy enough, she’s currently working on another cookbook, a follow-up to Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston’s Flour Bakery + Café. Available in Spring 2013, it will be called Flour Power: Recipes from Our Kitchen and contain breakfast, lunch and dinner recipes— including one for her killer BLT, the top sandwich seller because “we use incredibly good bacon, fresh vine-ripe tomatoes, baby arugula and our homemade toasted bread,” says Chang.
Speaking of bread, that’s the one item Chang still aims to perfect. “It’s ever changing, and while we’ve been making our own bread for 11 years, there are still days when it acts like it was made by a first timer and we have to throw it out. The weather, the humidity, the flour, the hands of the baker —all influence the outcome, and every day it’s a challenge. I love it.”
In the Kitchen
Cook like Chang with this advance recipe, exclusive to Flour Power.
Famous Applewood-Smoked BLT
8 slices applewood-smoked bacon, thick cut
4 slices good-quality white or wheat bread
6 Tbsp. mayonnaise
2 cups baby arugula
2 vine-ripe tomatoes
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinaigrette
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or foil and preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place bacon on the cookie sheet and bake for 12–15 minutes, until half is crispy and half is still a little bendy. Remove from oven. Lightly toast bread. Spread each slice with mayo. Top two slices with baby arugula, sliced tomatoes, a drizzle of vinaigrette and bacon. Top with second slice of bread. Cut in half and serve.