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Scratch Baking: Focusing on the Delicious Side of Food

By Kelly Church

At Scratch Baking, the focus is always on delicious, according to owner Phoebe Lawless. Scratch is a Durham, NC bakery that supports "North Carolina's growing, vibrant food community" by providing brunch, lunch and a full bakery, hand made with locally sourced ingredients.

Lawless started as a baker and pastry chef in the Durham area. Thanks to the leadership of her former bosses, she developed a love for food and desired to understand the intricacies that came with being a pastry chef, including "the delicate balance of texture, temperature and taste necessary to produce complex desserts and cuisine." She was a semifinalist in 2013 for the James Beard Foundation's Outstanding Pastry Chef award and has been featured in Bon Appetit, Gourmet Magazine, Food and Wine Magazine, Saveur and the local Our State Magazine that focuses on North Carolina food, travel and culture. However, when Lawless first thought to open Scratch, it wasn't as a full-service daytime restaurant.

"Scratch first began selling at area farmer's markets, with all of the baking being done out [of] my house," Lawless says. "Demand grew and I had to make a decision to either quit the whole thing or find a space. We had quite different intentions when the shop first opened; we imagined a small retail bakery that served simple coffee and a spot that folks could grab a slice of pie or sandwich. Well, downtown demanded differently and now we serve breakfast and lunch, a full brunch menu on the weekends, not to mention the dozen or more different pie/cake/sweets."

Lawless says she is committed to the sustainable food culture, which is why she maintains healthy relationships with local farmers that serve the Durham area. She's part of the Southern Foodways Alliance and SlowFood USA. Because she is able to source from local farmers, Lawless uses the seasons as inspiration for her menu, focusing on what crops are in season.

Some favorites at Scratch include a fried duck egg sandwich (above) that features pickled onions, bacon jam, roasted garlic mayonnaise and cheddar on a bun; Tomato sandwich with thick-cut tomatoes on sourdough bread with mayo and celery salt; and their peach and blueberry crumb pie.

"We take a lot of pride in the effort we make to make really tasty, accessible, hand-crafted food," Lawless says. "Over the past five years we have developed strong relationships with local farmers and producers and that is reflected on our menu that changes quite frequently with the seasons, using the best local products we can get our hands on."

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