As far as hybrid foods go, there’s been a distinct dichotomy to the mashups we’ve seen around the city. We either love ‘em or we hate ‘em, desired or ditched soon after being Frankenstein-ed into existence. The successes, though, have gone on to make a real name for themselves. The obvious one here is the ever-popular cronut, whose fame continues to eclipse the other desserts at Dominique Ansel’s Soho bakery. The Ramen Burger, too, has become a household eat of late, garnering itself a permanent location inside the Brooklyn Flea’s new outpost, Berg’n, in Crown Heights. Now, the newest amalgam of the bunch has also earned some brick-and-mortar staying power, with not one, but two new spots slated to open soon. Yessir, the bruffin looks like it’s here to stay.
What is it exactly? “We truthfully see the bruffin almost as a new food category,” says co-creator Michael Bagley. “With its versatility, the bruffin offers options for breakfast, lunch, dinner or in between. It can be as a snack or part of a meal, or a meal in itself. It can also be a dessert.” No matter the sweet or savory elements, all bruffins are a unique combination of muffin-like density and shapeliness with the buttery lightness of a brioche. And it turns out New York digs it. After humble beginnings atop tables at the Brooklyn Flea and Smorgasburg, The Bruffin Café will open up its first locations in the Lower East Side and the Meatpacking District in mid-August. Over at 85 Delancey Street, the first Bruffin Café will be inside the lobby of The Yard, a new coworking space. The second, at 52 Gansevoort Street, will make up one of the 12 local vendors who’ve been selected to sell their wares at the Gansevoort Market.
What can we expect to see on the menu? In addition to a standard list of bruffins, the new cafes will offer salads, soups and additional pasties from the "tried & true" library of cookies, tarts and other confections that Medy Youcef, the baker behind the bruffin, has been developing over the past few years. (Bonus for the gluten intolerant: most will be free of the pesky protein.) They’ll also have mini-bruffins and seasonal dishes, like the Bruffin Bowl (a savory bruffin in a hot soup) in the winter or the BLT (Bruffin, Lettuce & Tomato) in the spring.
Unlike its predecessors, the bruffin’s main focus isn’t just on merging foodstuffs, but also on the pastry’s portability, versatility and, of course, stomach-filling-ability. “Honestly, I am always on the run, usually in the car and never take the time to eat properly,” Michael says. “As my partner, Medy, is a baker, I gave him the challenge to create a ‘meal-in-a-muffin.’” Tired of the same ‘ol doughnuts, sandwiches and pizza, Michael and Medy gravitated toward natural ingredients with a fun texture. “ So, [Medy] came up with something that initially was a breakfast muffin, with a pastry similar to a brioche,” Michael says. “I named it bruffin!” Then, Medy took it a few steps further, making the end result lighter and flakier, similar to a blend of croissant and brioche. Et voilà! The bruffin was born.
Next, like an empty canvas or plain ice cream sundae, it was time to get creative with toppings and fillings. “We thought that taking our inspiration for creating different flavors from various countries throughout the world would be interesting and fun,” Michael says. “And so began our research to do just that.”
Lucky for them, the process of creating the recipe was way more trial than error (which no doubt meant opportunities to eat each batch of said trial.) “Medy' s intrinsic knowledge of food chemistry and our combined sense of adventure made the process of determining which bruffins would make the initial cut to our International Collection a lot of fun,” Michael says. The biggest challenge, he remembers, was in finding the perfect balance of ingredients. Each one needed to be there both in taste and texture, while paying homage to the nation it represents. Nowadays each are differentiated with the bruffin’s signature tiny toothpick flags, creating a sort of mouthwatering United Nations. Ah, food harmony, it’s a beautiful thing.
So what’s Michael’s favorite of the bunch? He pledges allegiance to the Greek Bruffin. “It was very good in its first round, but I asked Medy to add Kalamata Olives to the recipe and for me, it pushed it to the head of the class!” he says. “I love Kalamata Olives.” Want to find your own favorite bruffin? The new locations will open soon, but for now, you can spot them in the wild at Smorgasburg, the Brooklyn Flea and, starting in a few weeks, in the deli section at 14 Fairway Markets around the city. And be sure to eat ‘em often. Michael says the future of bruffin has quite a bit on the horizon. “With 16 sweet and savory Bruffins in the current International Collection — and a growing list of ‘developing nations’ — we will be introducing new and special seasonal Bruffins for a long time to come,” Michael says. Consider our growling stomach a passport.