Łukasz Stafiej (www.lukaszstafiej.pl)

Artisan bread in pomorskie – tradition and modernity

Genuine craft of baking, uncontaminated by chemistry and industry, has not been taken up by many in Pomorskie. However, all those who know where to look, will find natural, smelling bread that brings back memories of the old days.

When in the 1970s, father of Richard Majchrowski was opening his bakery at Dolna Brama (the Lower Gate), small bakery plants, which based on the strength of master bakers’ hands, operated in every district of the city. Economic change in the 1990s and, above all, the fact that machine-produced bread was becoming more and more popular, forced almost all old craftsmen to close their business. Ryszard Majchrowski has survived, however.

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Here,in the old building at Dolna Brama 12 street, bread is still being baked according to the same recipes  It is the old school of Polish bakery. Traditional bread, resistant to modern trends, devoid of chemicals and prepared exclusively on natural flours and sourdough.

Majchrowski, together with two bakers, begins his work in the evening and finishes early in the morning. For five days a week, traditional wheat and wheat and rye bread is available for purchase in the store. You can also buy traditional rye bread, rolls, or bagels. All hand-made and baked in a large-scale coal-fired tile furnace. It is the soul of Majchrowski’s bakery, and a unique place of historical value. You won’t find such bread come out of such a furnace anywhere in Gdańsk.

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Another  person to continue their family tradition is Zosia Brunka, who several years ago founded “Sztuka Chleba” manufacture in Gdynia-Orłowo. Although her family never owned a bakery, Sunday home bread baking was a family tradition. After she graduated from university, she decided to share her family’s secret with others by opening a manufacture bakery.

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Sztuka Chleba” is a combination of tradition and modernity. Its signature product is low-gluten bread with bran, flaxseed, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, and a small amount of different kinds of flour: rye, wheat, and  spelt. Recently, Zosia Brunka has started to bake different kinds of bread: with rosemary and sun-dried tomatoes, and cranberries and walnuts. Only a small amount of sourdough is used in baking process. The bread rises for several hours and is baked every morning, to be later delivered to points of sale, including  the outlet store in Riviera shopping centre in Gdynia, which also offers a variety of vegan-friendly products.

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Micro-bakery “Nowy Chleb” offers quite different type of “bread experience”. Still, their bread is also baked using sourdough and by the owner himself, who is a passionate and a home-grown craftsman-baker. The specialty here is wheat bread that owe their unique taste and appearance to long, cold fermentation. Bread from “Nowy Chleb” is sold in limited quantities in selected stores in the Tri-City on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays only. People say that these go like hot cakes.

Kaszuby region also offers a plethora of excellent bread. For example, a small village of Lipusz is home to Karola Bober, a housewife and local baking master, who bakes bread using a hundred years old recipes that she finds in old, Kashubian cookbooks. Some recipes are modified so they meet the expectations of today’s consumers, some – she invents herself.

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Among her specialties are: buckwheat bread, spelt bread, buttermilk bread, and many others. One of them even received an award during St. Dominic’s Fair a couple of years ago. In her work, she uses molds that date back to previous centuries. Her collection consists of almost five hundred pieces.

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Interestingly, she is more than happy to share her knowledge, and anyone can learn her baking secrets at workshops that are organised regularly in Lipusz. One session is about three hours, and all participants – children and adults alike – learn from scratch how the excellent, Kashubian bread is made.

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