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  • Flour Power

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  • An Appeal to America to Vote Pecan Blondie as Favorite Brownie

    One day while driving to visit one of our wholesale customers, this year being an election year, I started thinking about if each one of our bread, pastries & cakes were to run for office, just which one would have my vote. I didn’t need to debate long; Pecan Blondie was, without a doubt, the frontrunner. I then started thinking about what my campaign to make Zingerman’s Bakehouse Pecan Blondies America’s favorite brownie would look like…

    Why I am Endorsing the Pecan Blondie

    When I first started working at Zingerman’s Bakehouse, my top priority was to try as many baked goods as possible as quickly as I could. One particular pastry escaped my initial quest; until my co-worker, Katie Frank, happened to mention that she thought Pecan Blondies were our most underrated brownie and I absolutely had to try them. One small nibble and I was hooked! It’s been ten years since I enjoyed my first bite and I keep coming back for more.

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  • Experts Guide to French Toast

    It’s said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. French toast is a commonly enjoyed choice, maybe seen as a reward on the weekend. Since French toast is more or less all about the bread itself, bread is the one ingredient that can really make or break that meal. Here at the Bakehouse, we offer a daily selection of bread that is over 25 varieties. That doesn’t includ versions of breads that share a common base with tasty add-ins like chocolate, nuts or seeds or any of our “Special Bake” breads that only show up on occasion. With all of these choices, how does one select just the right loaf with French toast in mind?

    At Zingerman’s Bakehouse, we are very serious about our bread. We take special care in the selection of ingredients, the way we mix our dough, and the processes we use in handling, proofing and baking our bread. We are especially particular about the way we eat our bread. With that in mind, I consulted the experts as to which Bakehouse bread is their favorite when making French toast. Clearly by experts I mean the staff of the Bakehouse, who make, bake, sell and basically live this bread everyday.

    After polling the Bakehouse staff, there were some clear winners in terms of favorite breads to make this classic American breakfast item. With 66% of staff selecting a variety of this bread as their favorite French toast loaf, Challah comes out on top. Our plain version of Challah was the top pick, with our special bake variety called Kálac (cinnamon swirl egg bread) coming in a close second. Although now on vacation, Chocolate Challah rounds out the top three. (“on vacation” means we're not making it right now). Next on the list of top picks is our Rustic Italian bread. Breads with even more flavor that made the list included Cinnamon Raisin, Pecan Raisin, Cranberry Pecan, Farm, Country Wheat and Challah Turbans with rum raisins.

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  • Langós – Hungary’s Most Popular Street Food

    Langós, deep-fried flat bread eaten with a variety of toppings like sour cream and dill or cheese and ham is Hungary’s most popular street food.

    Who doesn’t love fried dough? Hungarians certainly do. There are langós stands in many food markets and they are regular features at street fairs and public events. It’s common to see people standing at counters eating hot fried dough mounded with an amazing combination of meat, cheese and vegetables. Some langós dough is very simple: water, flour, salt and yeast. A slightly more complicated version includes mashed potatoes and sometimes even chopped cabbage. Ours is made with potatoes.

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  • The Mystery of Fondant

    Many of our guests wonder and worry about fondant.

    What is it? Doesn’t it taste bad? Why is it used?

    Fondant is a confection made primarily with sugar and sometimes a flavoring. Often it has guar gum in it, which gives it the elasticity it needs to be rolled out and placed over a cake. If you read the packages of some candies like After Eight Mints® you’ll even see that fondant is named as a component. It’s the white minty filling. 

    One of the biggest concerns our guests have is that fondant tastes bad. Many fondants do, but since we make our own and don’t use any chemicals or preservatives the flavor is primarily sweet with a touch of vanilla. (I will dare to say that it tastes like the inside of an Oreo® cookie. Even the longest standing foodies among us will still probably remember what that tastes like.) The other mistake often made with fondant is that cake decorators use too much of it. It should be a very thin layer covering a thin layer of great tasting buttercream. Essentially the fondant shouldn’t really be noticed when we eat the cake. 

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  • Why Rye?

    Rye bread occupies two very different parts of my life—the professional world of artisan baking where we have baked Jewish rye bread and pumpernickel at Zingerman’s Bakehouse daily for the last 21 years along and often bake German and French rye loaves; and my personal ethnic identity and family culture which includes Jewish cuisine.

    I was born in Sydney, Nova Scotia, a former coal mining and steel town of 35,000 or so (it’s been a diminishing population for as long as I can remember), on the beautiful and relatively remote island of Cape Breton in far eastern Canada. Go ahead and ask, everyone does: Were there really Jewish families there? Yes, there were. A community started there in the 19th century and continues to this day. During my early childhood the synagogue was thriving and the center of religious and community life for about one hundred families. By the time I was a teenager, the 1980s, however, the community was clearly struggling and is now significantly diminished. My generation left for more promising opportunities mainly in Halifax, the capital of the province, and Toronto.

    My family ate traditional Ashkenazi Jewish foods mostly during the Jewish holidays. Gefilte fish, chopped liver, matzah ball soup, brisket, tsimmes, and mandelbread were all familiar fare. At non-holiday times, a guest would know our ethnicity from the bagels, lox and pickled herring we ate at every Sunday brunch, the Montreal smoked meat we warmed for Saturday lunch and ate on the fresh rye and pumpernickel we’d picked up after Saturday services. The prevalence of pickles and horseradish may have also been a clue that we weren’t Irish or Scottish, the primary heritage of most of the rest of the community.

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