About

I grew up in a bakery, worked in several, and learned a lot about life and baked goods in the process. I habitually visit bakeries wherever I go and have explored hundreds of them in my career as a journalist and travel writer. This blog shares tasty and telling experiences and leads to favorite bakeries you won’t want to miss if your travels take you nearby. Cookie anyone?

– Bakery Boy 

24 responses to “About

  1. Did you say cookies? Tell us where to find the best cookie-makers in the South and I will follow you anywhere. Extra points for the chocolate kind.

  2. Bakeryboy, I lived in Brussels as a girl, and every since moving back to the States my family has been looking for a replica of a bread we loved there. Our neighborhood bakery called it a “sugar bread,” and it was a thick loaf studded with crystalized sugar. probably Belgian pearl sugar. The dough itself was not sweet, but the sugar made little melty pockets of sweetness with a crunch in the center. Have you run across such a loaf anywhere? (I’ve recently found pearl sugar and am going to make my own attempt, too.)

    • Teresa: I recently found something that might fit your description of Belgian Sugar Bread, although I’d say it leans more toward the coffeecake family than a typical yeast-raised bread. It’s called Moravian Sugar Cake and it’s made the old-fashioned Eastern European way in a wood-fired oven at Winkler Bakery in the historic village of Old Salem in Winston-Salem, NC. See the July 31, 2010, Bakery Boy Blog post about Winkler Bakery (https://bakeryboyblog.wordpress.com/2010/07/31/winkler-bakery-winston-salem-nc). And find a photo of the Sugar Cake at the Old Salem website (http://www.oldsalem.com/product/200/fresh_baked_items). If you like what you see, you can get a taste by mail ordering a trio of 7-inch x 10-inch pieces for about $17. If that’s not what you’re looking for, slip me another clue and I’ll be on the lookout for other sources. – Bakery Boy

    • I think I found what you are looking for: http://www.applepiepatispate.com/bread/sukerbolle-suikerbrood/

      Sounds delicious!

    • I also have very happy memories of pain sucree from our nearby bakery in Brussels in Uxelles. Have never found it here in the states. Did you find a recipe or a source? I realize your post was from 2 1/2 years ago. I”m pretty sure that Moravian bread is nothing like it.

      • You’re the second person I’ve heard from who has raved about pain sucree (or “sugar bread”) from Belgium. Alas, I have not found a source for it here in the United States. I sure hope to taste some someday, and then maybe try to replicate it in my own oven. Suggestions (and recipes) would certainly be welcome! — Bakery Boy

      • Okay, Bakery Boy, you’re on. I have found a recipe in a breakfast cookbook from a woman who grew up in Belgium, and we can get the pearl sugar from Amazon. (I had some and a random, unnamed college student stole it for Belgian sugar waffles.) If it works, maybe you can get the author to give you rights to publish the recipe – or perhaps feature her in the blog. I’ll bring the ingredients if you’ll supply the skill – it’s been years since I’ve baked a yeast bread…

      • Sounds like a good plan, Teresa. I’ve been baking yeast breads twice a week since I started the Bakery Boy Blog a few years ago (and I used to bake bread daily when I was a full-time baker) so I’m comfortable with the feel of a good dough. Can you send me the recipe to study (or to try out) even before we land the precious pearl sugar? –Bakery Boy

  3. Found you on Stick Boy Bread Co. newsletter. Ollie’s Bakery on S. Marshall St. in Winston-Salem is great and has a cult following!

  4. Pingback: Brick Street Cafe, Greenville, SC | Bakery Boy Blog

  5. Cookies? Do you have an opinion as to whose recipe for chocolate chip cookies results in tastier rounds: Laura Bush’s or Hillary Clinton’s? That was a long time ago, but I’ve always wondered…

    • Rita Elizabeth: In chasing my bakery muse, I try to stay out of politics and reach out to everyone who likes cookies, which is, I guess, just about everyone. If you made both First Wives’ recipes, mixed up the cookies, and put them in front of me, chances are I’d happily eat them all even if one batch was slightly better. You could call it a case of, as they say, “voting early and often.” – Bakery Boy

  6. this is the best blog ever. i love bread and i too grew up in a bakery and know exactly what you are talking about when you described the twinkie trade in primary school. i must admit, twinkies are good though 🙂

    • Thanks for the encouragement, Viv. Being raised in a bakery, you likely also experienced frequent pressure to bring goodies to school bake sales, right? I was always glad to comply, even if I did sometimes pull from the day-old discount shelf to satisfy the demands of class fund-raiser types. – Bakery Boy

  7. Definitely know the bake sale feeling. But i’m ashamed to say that i was embarrassed and did not want to draw attention to myself so would always ask my parents to donate chocolate biscuits bought from the supermarket instead. i just didn’t have the sensibility to know that a tray full of French vanilla slices and apple turnovers with cream and jam totally trumps boring, mass-produced chocolate chip biscuits. what a fool i was.

  8. I had the opportunity to visit Sweet Life Patisserie in Eugene, Oregon. Wow! This charming little patisserie hit my senses from every corner. I felt like I was back in France. Unfortunately, I couldn’t try most of the pastry since I have some food allergies. However, I did have the macaroons. They are the best ever, crispy outside and moist, almost creamy inside. I have since tried many recipes but have never come close a delightful replica. Do you happen to have their recipe for the macaroons? If so, are you willing to share? Thank you, cynergy@cox.net

    • I’m sorry to hear that your allergies are holding you back from trying so many great treats, Cynthia, but I’m glad you enjoyed the Sweet Life Patisserie macaroons! The owners, Catherine & Cheryl, strike me as very helpful and understanding women, so I suggest you simply ask them for the recipe sometime. They kindly allowed me to publish the recipe for their Fig Hazelnut Frangipane Tart, and that post still gets a steady stream of hits nearly a year later. Either way, I’m sure they’ll be glad to know how much you like their macaroons – Bakery Boy

  9. Hello Bakery Boy! Do you know what is the oldest bakery in America? I haven’t been able to figure it out and thought you might know.

    • I think Winkler Bakery in Old Salem, North Carolina, at which Moravian settlers first put crusts on loaves in 1800, has a good claim to being America’s oldest bakery, especially since it still operates as one. See my post about it at https://bakeryboyblog.wordpress.com/2010/07/31/winkler-bakery-winston-salem-nc.

      In that other historic Salem (Massachusetts) an attraction conspicuously called “The Old Bakery” and subtitled “America’s Oldest Bakery” has, I believe, been reduced to souvenir postcards but no actual rising dough. If anyone knows any different, please fill me in. A pastry shop in New York’s East Village dates to 1894, to which I say, 1894, is that all you got?

      There might be a really old bakery somewhere in South America or Central America, where the Spanish colonized and where old-style beehive-shaped horno ovens proliferate to this day. But if there’s one older than Winkler, I’m guessing its owners haven’t mastered the art of publicity or I’d have heard about it by now. I came across some long-lived bakeries in the historic Old San Juan district of Puerto Rico’s capital on a recent trip there, but nothing rivaling Old Salem’s roots in 1800.

      I think of California laying claim to many “oldests,” also because of early Spanish influences. Still, the famous sourdough bread in San Francisco didn’t get going until 1849, in the wake of the Gold Rush that brought members of the Boudin family over from France to launch Boudin Bakery. It’s still in operation along The Wharf and well worth a visit when you’re out there.

      America can’t compete with Europe much when it comes to ancient history, of course, but just as a reference point and FYI there’s apparently a baking company in Germany that has been in operation since 1586, though not necessarily in the same building.

      One factor working against bakeries getting really old is that bakeries do tend to burn down from time to time, especially if the baker maintains a sideline as a brewer, which is not uncommon. Bread and beer contain similar ingredients, though the goals of the yeast spores enlisted are very different and the end products have vastly different effects on the body, bread going primarily to the belly and grog veering quickly toward the noggin. Whether such bakery fires are accidents involving alcohol burning faster and hotter than, say, pies and cookies, or because bakers-cum-brewers sometimes fall into drunken stupors while their cakes incinerate and spread flames first to the woodpile and then the roof, I could only speculate.

      If anyone reading this knows of a functioning bakery that’s older than the 1800-vintage Winkler Bakery in Old Salem, NC, please let me know.

      — Bakery Boy

  10. This one might have Winkler Bakery beat, they claim it’s been in operation since 1774, in Lititz, PA. It still is a bakery, but switched from a general bakery to a pretzel bakery in 1861: http://articles.latimes.com/1989-08-25/business/fi-1029_1_oat-bran-pretzels

  11. Bakery Boy, I live in Pigeon Forge and of all the restaurants available, with my limited funds, the ONLY restaurant i go to is Pottery House. And I do mean ONLY!! I don’t do fast food or anything. We do it the old fashioned way. WE COOK. My question is this. With all the loaves of sour dough you cook, I know you can’t possibly be building your own sour dough starter. Is there a sour dough product you use for starter? And is it available anywhere for us to try at home? Thanks RobinC

    • Robin: I bake bread in small batches at least once a week at home, sometimes twice, and yes I do keep my sour dough going. I use the “old dough” method of saving a bit of dough, usually half a pound or so, from each batch, refrigerating it in a sealed container, and adding it to the next batch for two or three loaves. It’s not intensely sour, but I like it, and after years of continuity it gives my bread an interesting history and pedigree. If you want to try a sour dough starter product to get you started, check out what King Author Flour (www.kingarthurflour.com) has to offer via mail order. –Bakery Boy

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  13. Interesting blog you have there Bakery Boy. Would be great to have you on board Unique Bakes (see URL below) to get your perspective and reviews from bakeries you have known and loved. Cheers..

    http://www.uniquebakes.com

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