It was 9:30 in the morning on what promised to be a typically hot July day last summer in Denver. Marczyk was already sweating a bit in his white chef’s jacket and black-checked pants, instant-read thermometer hanging from his neck, dusted with flour from eyebrows to black shoes. He had started the dough for the day’s supply of baguettes; customers would begin demanding them for dinner about 4 p.m. The temperature in the kitchen was 77 degrees, a bit warmer than the 72 degrees Paul would have preferred for fermenting his dough, but the back sliding door was opened to accommodate the morning’s shipment of goods and a breeze was damping the heat. There was a long, hot day in the kitchen ahead.
Brothers Peter and Paul Marczyk run Marczyk Fine Foods, a gourmet grocery, delicatessen and, recently, bakery, that has been an institution in Denver’s Capital Hill neighborhood since 2002. The bakery operation, however, was brand-new last summer, so new that Paul himself was the baker. Since then, the operation has blossomed into four full-time bakers and one part-timer. Paul’s 70 hours a week have eased back to something less strenuous, at least in the bakery.
The brothers said in an interview that breadmaking for them grew initially out of a need to supply their popular Capital Hill delicatessen and the timeworn adage that, if you want something done right, you must do it yourself.
“Peter and I are very hands-on people,” Paul said. “I think we like to do things in a certain way to achieve quality.” It turned out, Peter said, that the market was spending a certain amount every week on bread from outside suppliers, “but we were really not getting the quality of product that we desired.” They they began brainstorming. Paul has a background in brewing, so he was familiar with the biological and gastronomic processes of fermentation. Peter and Paul took a few classes in baking, but they didn’t think they’d learned enough. Finally, the two signed up for the King Arthur Flour Company classes in Vermont, classes for professionals. The experience was eye-opening.
“It makes you realize how much time I wasted in school,” Paul said, explaining that the pace in the King Arthur classes was so brisk that there was no opportunity for dawdling. Peter described it as a “master class.”
“It was like being young Jedis and having Yoda hand you the light saber,” Peter said, grinning, adding that students were expected to already have solid kitchen skills.
Paul’s first batch of sticky, fragrant baguette dough was ready to come out of the big floor-standing mixer and transfer to several plastic bins where it would ferment for a few hours. This is how bread made in the French style attains its best flavor, so it’s a step that is not to be skimped upon. There’s a lot of hurry-up-and-wait to making bread; this was the waiting part for the afternoon’s baguettes. But there was no rest for the baker - a batch of pan bread, oatmeal loaves and what the brothers call “Sonnenblumenbrot,” whole-wheat loaves stuffed with sunflower seeds, needed to be put up and baked.
“In all candor,” Peter said, “Paul and I are Polish New Englanders who grew up with an attitude that if you want something done, just go do it.” After the King Arthur classes, that’s precisely what they did. “The decision was made,” Peter said. “We got back Saturday night from class and Monday morning we were making bread.
They’ve been doing it at least five days a week since then.
The Marczyk brothers are dedicated food enthusiasts - they wouldn’t blush at the term “foodie” - and their markets reflect that attitude. Accordingly, their bread ingredients are all organic, locally sourced and they eschew any but the most traditional preservatives. Honey, for example, is what sweetens their whole-wheat pan loaves because, Peter said, it extends the fresh life of the bread. Paul said it’s all about following traditional, proven formulas. He draws on his experience as a brewer for this.
“There are no new beer formulas,” he said. The same is true of bread - both bread and beer have been made by following the same basic guidelines for thousands of years. “Within those broad guidelines, we tweak [the recipes] ourselves and adapt to our equipment.”
Such as it is. Paul and his crew make each loaf by hand; the only machine involved is the big standing mixer, ubiquitous in every bakery. “We’ve tried to apply some modern-ness, some production savvy, to the process,” he said. “But at the same time, it’s not my vision to have a machine bakery.”
It was time for Paul to dust himself with more flour. The baguette dough had been fermenting for three hours and it was ready to be shaped into loaves, proofed and baked. He floured his hands so the sticky dough could be manipulated into the characteristic skinny torpedo shape of a baguette. The loaves were carefully set aside to raise again for an hour before they were slid into the oven.
Even now, the baguette production alone can barely keep up with the demand. Paul started out making 16 baguettes every day, with 10 going to the delicatessen and six out to the market floor. The six were so hastily snapped up, and the unlucky customers who didn’t get one so vociferous in their complaints, that he was forced to increase production.
Now, they’re making 120 baguettes every day and sometimes running out of them in a couple of hours, between supplying the delis in the two stores and putting the rest out for sale.
The baguettes were proofed and carefully scored. They baked for about 30 minutes, then went straight, and hot, into white paper baguette bags stamped with the Marczyk’s “M.” Some of them were dropped into a basket next to the cash registers. It’s even harder to resist a fresh, hot baguette at the market checkout than it is to forgo a candy bar. Peter Marczyk says a baguette is an ephemeral thing.
“You gotta come back and get another one,” he said, smiling.
Tags: fresh baguettes, Marczyk Fine Foods, market made bread | Post Your Comments »
Brought to you by Stonefire (and, well, us!) The extremely high heat produces the big bubbles, airy texture and delicious smoky flavor of an authentic Indian naan. Hand stretched and made with all natural ingredients including traditional, fresh buttermilk and ghee (clarified butter), naan can be used to create any meal. Pizzas, paninis, naanwiches or as the perfect bread accompaniment to dinner. We’ve got the Original & Garlic. These will be replacing the Tandoori brand…because as we say ‘Fresh is best!’
Post Your Comments »
Yup, they’re made from real sugar cane. Try these in a cocktail, iced tea, or even as a coffee stirrer. Why not as shish-kabobs for grilling shrimp? Or perhaps a fun alternative to chopsticks? Popsicle sticks? Maybe just munch on them for a healthy snack? They’re fun, fresh, and funky!
Try them out and let us know what uses you’ve come up with…we’d love to hear! $5.99
Post Your Comments »
Lots of room for the chickens
Denver, CO - Fresh, free range, antibiotic free chicken is one of the most desirable products in today’s foodie world. The texture is firm, and the taste is, well, chickeny. Boulder Natural Meats, a Colorado company since 1985, has had a difficult time finding Colorado farmers who will raise birds to their standards: antibiotic free and plenty of room to roam. They have been working for 2 years to find a Colorado chicken provider, and have finally found one. The farmers, who are about 7 miles east of Ft. Collins, took over a Butterball turkey barn and refurbished it so the airflow is excellent and natural light shines in. The wood shavings are fresh, and the barn is kept at about 90 degrees to keep the chicks warm. Vegetarian feed, of course.
Marczyk’s is one of only 3 Colorado grocers to carry these all-natural fresh birds.
“Our customers kept asking us, so we kept asking them” explains Pete Marczyk. “Sometimes it just takes a while.” In addition to providing our customers with something they’ve been clamoring for, it also created 75 Colorado jobs!
Antibiotics in chickens
Most chickens are given antibiotics prophylactically. This has 2 effects: it keeps chickens raised in cramped quarters from being sick, and it makes them grow faster and larger.* (Ever had a freakishly large chicken breast? Now you know.) And despite the fact that 80% of all antibiotics used in the US are used for livestock, this makes our meat no safer. **
What about the taste and texture?
We cooked a whole bird, and the meat was firm and the taste was excellent. (These are Cobb, or Blue Foot chickens, an American variety of the French Pullet de Breese.) Try Marczyk’s sticky lip chicken recipe http://www.marczykfinefoods.com/recipes/archives/sticky-lip-chicken/ or simply roast them.
Chicken braising in garlic and lemon
* “Both a 2008 USDA study and a 2007 study in Public Health Reports, a journal that focuses on emerging public health issues, found that the nontherapeutic use of antibiotics in broiler chickens boosted feed efficiency enough to make the animals grow faster”.
** “But preventive health measures don’t guarantee safe food, according to environmental health scientist Ellen Silbergeld, who told News21 that thousands of ranchers…have ’squandered the use of antibiotics’ by feeding and injecting healthy cows, pigs, chickens and turkeys with the same drugs used to cure human infections. The result is bacteria that can no longer be killed by antibiotics and are still present in animals when they go to slaughter, said Silbergeld, a professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The bacteria end up in consumer meat products sold at grocery stores across the country. The journal Clinical Infectious Diseases reported this year that nearly half of all beef, pork, chicken and turkey purchased from 26 retail stores in Chicago, Washington, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Los Angeles and Flagstaff, Ariz., contained drug-resistant bacteria. While thorough cooking may kill even resistant pathogens, Silbergeld said the risk of infection from cross-contamination is too high when handling raw meat and poultry. ‘Antibiotic resistance is an immediate health risk,’ she said. ‘This is the thing that will kill you.’” http://foodsafety.news21.com/2011/risks/antibiotics
Post Your Comments »