UPPER WEST SIDE — The babka that put Breads Bakery "on the map," in the words of owner Gadi Peleg, will bake continually throughout the day at its new Lincoln Square location — as will a decades-old neighborhood classic that inspired him from a young age.
Peleg is opening a second Breads Bakery at 1890 Broadway near West 63rd Street on Wednesday — the original opened three years ago in Union Square — with a nod to his favorite childhood bakery, Soutine.
The little French bakery on West 70th Street, operated by local resident Madge Rosenberg for more than three decades, closed in 2012 to the dismay of her many loyal customers.
Soutine's decadent Concord Cake, chocolate mousse covered by a layer of meringue and pieces of chocolate, was the "birthday cake of my childhood," said Peleg, who grew up a few blocks south of the bakery in the 1980s.
He wanted to offer the cake again at his new location in order to "pay homage" to the neighborhood, he said.
Peleg thought it would be a "one in a million shot" to track Rosenberg down, but she still lives in the neighborhood and was game to share the recipe for her famous cake with him. She even came to Breads Bakery's Union Square location to oversee the execution, he said.
In a strange twist of fate, the Union Square bakery at 18 E. 16th St. is where Rosenberg's father once worked at a factory making American flags, Peleg explained.
Rosenberg could not immediately be reached for comment.
The "very chocolaty" Concord Cake is available in a small size for two people to share for $12 or in a larger size for $38, Peleg said.
Although he tried to compensate Rosenberg for her contribution, she refused, he said. Instead, a portion of the cake's sales will go toward the nearby YMCA, where she's a board member, Peleg noted. The exact percentage of those sales has not yet been finalized.
Soutine may have led to Peleg's love of baked goods, but he further developed it during his travels in Europe. In each city he visits, he likes to wake up and get a fresh loaf of bread, he said.
But back home in New York City, a place that "should have the best of everything," he found that "the bread and pastries were not the best."
"I saw an opportunity to do that," Peleg said.
Not a baker himself, Peleg assembled baking specialists for each of his many products — from focaccia to croissants to rugelach, all of which are baked continually throughout the day.
That freshness is what sets the bakery apart and contributes to why its babka sells so well, Peleg believes.
When you pick up a loaf from the "babka tower," which will stand near the entrance of the new 1,100-square-foot space, "it's going to still have oven warmth," he said.
And it's made with Nutella, which will "remind people of their childhood."
Breads Bakery — which will stay open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. and feature 20 seats inside and as many outside as soon as spring arrives — will also serve sandwiches, soups, quiches, salads and spreads.
Peleg thinks the neighborhood is "starving" for a good cup of joe and that the bakery's "coffee program" is a significant addition to the area.
"Superstar" baristas — who take coffee seriously but "are not latte artists" — will use Italian Moak coffee beans in the bakery's brews, Peleg said.
"If you get the best beans on the planet and you get a mediocre barista, it's not going to be good," he explained.
Peleg, who now lives two blocks from the new location, said Breads Bakery is filling an unmet need in the neighborhood.
"The number one request we got [at Union Square] was, 'When are you opening on the Upper West Side?'" he said.