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Chelsea (Manhattan, New York)
A quirky bakery where stellar croissants come from
A quirky bakery where stellar croissants come from

If the heart of a bakery is its oven, then Proof Bakery's is ginormous. Really. It's a gas-powered Dalton with double doors and revolving shelves that can fit 18 sheet trays — or 72 pies — at a time. The oven, about the size of a 10-foot U-Haul truck, is 50 years old, inherited with the space, and its quirks provide the cult Atwater bakery its pulse. "When someone first showed me how to light it, you had to fill a basin with gas, light a newspaper and throw it in," says owner Na Young Ma. "It was like 'Backdraft.' "But I have learned to love it." (She also has since installed a modern igniter.) Proof Bakery in Atwater Village has...

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