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Best Bets at Clear Flour Bakery

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  • bee Feb 27, 2007 12:03 PM
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My schedule has me passing Clear Flour nearly once a week now and I'd never been there before a few weeks ago. I'm in love! It's small and friendly and full of wonderful things. Such a good vibe. I've enjoyed the buckwheat walnut bread, the delicious raspberry pear tarts, the incredible croissants, and the wonderfully flakey and not sickeningly sweet nut rolls. What do you recommend?

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  1. Any of the plain ole breads are AMAZING there. Ciabatta, french loaves, rye. Their breads are true artisan quality!

    1. Pretty much everything - it's almost easier to say what's NOT outstanding. I've tried them regularly but never cared for their focaccia or their scali, for instance. I like their weekend special scones better than the daily cranberry-currant version, and think that they'd be better in general if they were about 2/3 the size that they make them.

      Both the regular French and the Ancienne are wonderful baguettes. And the olive rolls are delicious, although you should be warned that they are liberally seasoned with black pepper. (I like it that way, but I've known folks to be dismayed at the discovery.) Oh, and if they happen to have the gruyere cheese croissants, get them! So good...

      1. The morning buns rock.

        1. The deli rye is good. The focaccia are good for muffaletta's or pizzas but not for plain eating.

          1. The best thing at Clear Flour is the bostok: a thick slice of brioche, lightly toasted and covered in frangipane and sliced almonds.

            1. The chocolate macaroon, which is really more of a huge lump of solid chocolate with coconut in it, is amazing.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Luther

                Almond macaroons are awesome too. Very underrated cookie in general, but they do them right here. Oh, and the best oatmeal raisin cookies ever. Oddly, however, the chocolate chip cookies are kinda nasty.

                Although honestly, one of my favorite things to do is simply buy a couple of their French-style dinner rolls and a couple pats of butter and sit and eat them in front of the fountain at the park across the street (which is currently closed for construction) while watching the sparrows fight each other for the crumbs. One of the small pleasures of life in my neighborhood.

              2. On Saturdays they do a gorgonzola and walnut bread. Very nice, get there early.

                1. I love their seeded 7 grain bread, their morning buns, and their chocolate macaroons.

                  1. How are the cream puffs and miso buns these days?

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: limster

                      clear flour's not selling cream puffs or miso buns right now . . . (disclaimer: i'm an employee).

                    2. They are currently selling hamentashen. They are quite light and good, though of course pricey.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: lergnom

                        What flavors of hamantaschen are they selling? Poppyseed by chance?

                        1. re: gini

                          Much to my disappointment, they don't have poppyseed. (They have in past years, and a very good version, too. Oh, well.) They had raspberry and apricot. $1.50 each, on the small side but so good.

                          (They had canneles too, but the guy just ahead of me bought the last four.)

                          1. re: gini

                            Actually, they are doing poppyseed but they're selling out fast. Last night the guy in front of me bought the last two. (Feh. Seems to be my luck there this week, though.)

                            1. re: Allstonian

                              Thanks for the info. I'll try and get their early.

                        2. chocolate croissants as good as in paris....

                          1. My staples from Clear Flour:
                            Pain de Mie (literally crumb bread). This is white bread done right, fantastic for toasting and ideal when a bit stale for French toast. They make huge loaves but will sell you a half.
                            Deli rye, the real stuff.
                            Sourdough in various shapes and sizes.
                            Ancienne baguettes, made with less water than standard baguettes for a darker, crunchier crust.
                            The tarts, especially plain apple. Pricey but worth it.
                            And, once in a while, Paris Nights, a heavy, dark, slightly sweet bread loaded with raisins & nuts. So rich it makes a meal by itself!

                            The only thing I don't like of theirs is the challah, I find it a bit too hard-crusted for my taste.

                            1. Clear Flour also sells- in extremely limited quantities- the elusive and extraordinary cannele, a sweet speciality of Bordeaux. With a deeply caramelized, toothsome exterior giving way to a spongey, custardy interior redolent with vanilla and rum, stock up on these little delights at .75 cents apiece. I believe they are baking them more regularly now, but check their schedule, and grab as many as you can when you pop in!
                              (As an aside, one of their alumni runs the lovely Canto 6 bakery on Washington Street in JP, where she's serving up her own refinement of the cannele recipe as well.)

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: hungryi

                                True. They're great if you can appreciate the burnt flavor in the exterior.

                              2. Paris Night!!!!, with good rich french made butter!

                                1. I'm also a big fan of their flower loaves -- they are eight petals each of which has the crunch and texture of a baguette, with a central section holding them together in a pattern looking like a star or vaguely like a sunflower. They tend to sell out fairly early in the day.

                                  They also do a variety of killer seasonal treats, depending on what holiday is around the corner.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Dr.Jimbob

                                    Those are called epis. Oops, no, sorry, epis are a similar thing done in a long stick shape rather than a circle, like a baguette with buds coming off it on both sides. My bad.

                                  2. One thing I really enjoy about Clear Flour's bread is that with the aid of a good bread box (get one if you don't already own one!), you can hang onto their loaves for a few days and guarantee yourself excellent toast. Pop a slice of seven grain into the toaster and it's like the Platonic ideal of toast.
                                    Also, for those of us in Somerville, the Wine & Cheese Cask carries Clear Flour bread, though just the basic stuff...

                                    12 Replies
                                    1. re: hungrylady

                                      So does Capone Foods in Union Square, Somerville - and it's reciprocal, Clear Flour carries some of Capone's frozen pasta & sauces.

                                      1. re: BobB

                                        Do they sell the basic ones (baguette, olive rolls) or also some more interesting kinds too? (Pemberton Farms has the basic ones.)

                                        1. re: Aromatherapy

                                          As best I recall, just the basics, but I haven't been in in a while. You could give them a call.

                                      2. re: hungrylady

                                        thanks, that's interesting, i like that store. is the bread fresh each day?

                                        btw, clear flour's croissants are the best i've tried in boston (not that boston is a croissant mecca though).

                                        and i think formaggio kitchen carries clear flour baguettes sometimes, but i might be mistaken. (an aside...i've told this story before, but i'll tell it again. background info: fk makes their own baguettes, but sells other people's baguettes as well. i asked an fk employee which baguette i should buy, and she unabashedly said the other guy's baguettes were better than their own. it was either clear flour or sel de la terre.)

                                        1. re: fenian

                                          They sell Clear Flour baguettes at FK.

                                          1. re: fenian

                                            Have you had croissants at Cafe Vanille, Canto 6 or Blue Frog? I think they're all as good if not better. Well, CV is definitely better.

                                            1. re: Joanie

                                              nope. JP is very inconvenient for me, living in harvard square without a car. but i will check out Cafe Vanille, thanks for the rec.

                                              1. re: fenian

                                                The 66 bus connects with the 39, and service on both lines is good - I've done it from Allston regularly. Admittedly a long trek just for some croissants, but there's other good things to do while you're out there.

                                                1. re: Allstonian

                                                  And if you were going to Canto 6, it's just the orange line to Green St. and a 3 min walk. Altho less of the "happening" area than Blue Frog (but a short walk down Green St. gets you from one bakery to the other). I didn't have a car for years in JP, it's not that bad to go to and from Cambridge (altho i'll never give up my car now). Make an afternoon of it as Allstonian says.

                                                  1. re: Joanie

                                                    Yeah, I've done it before a few times. Thing is I'm pretty busy so I would want a coffee-shop base, preferably with wireless, any suggestions? Also a place to have dinner solo. Zon's?

                                                    1. re: fenian

                                                      Unfortunately, the two best JP bakeries have little or no seating. That would be Sweet Finnish and June Bug next to Zon's who don't hold a candle to C6 and BF. And yes, Zon's is great for solo dining as would be Cafe D and Alchemist. And a step below, Costello's and the Galway House. But not if you're still looking for wireless.

                                            2. re: fenian

                                              They do sell Clear Flour and Iggy's. But the best is B&R Bakery. The baker/owner used to be the baker from Sal de Terre.