Faster, cheaper bread was once hailed as a great American innovation. These days, Western New Yorkers who want loaves made the old-fashioned way have to search for their daily bread.
There are places using natural starters, which harness the power of wild yeast to unlock the nutritional value of grain and improve digestibility, and places making bread free of chemicals like dough conditioners and preservatives. There’s even one that uses only wheat grown in Hamburg, milled into flour at the bakery.
Here’s an introduction to a few places making bread the old way, even if they’re new themselves.
3-seed sourdough from Elm Street Bakery
72 Elm St., East Aurora, 652-4720
All but three of this bakery’s 28 breads use natural starters, building flavor and nutrition in the multi-day process before baking in its
wood-fired oven. Its best-selling loaf has toasted sunflower and sesame seeds, plus soaked flax seeds, adding to its crusty character. $6.
Elm Street Bakery head baker Mark Notarpole has been making bread for 40 years. Most of his bread uses a long, slow rise that lets the dough ferment, for a more nutritious bread that's easier to digest. In the morning, Notarpole sweeps the ashes from the bakery's wood-fired oven before baking the day's bread.
Extra sharp cheddar from Five Points Bakery
44 Brayton St., 884-8888
This bakery uses only Hamburg wheat milled in-house. That flour is soaked for a day before use to help it release nutrients and aid digestion. This loaf packs a half-pound of McCadam extra sharp cheddar and a little apple cider, too. $6.50.
Dill pickle sourdough from BreadHive
123 Baynes St., 980-5623
When pickle emporium Barrel + Brine opened, baker Allison Ewing finally had a convenient source for dill pickle brine. It’s used in place of water to flavor a hearty sourdough rye loaf with a distinct tang. $6.
Wheatberry sourdough from Wheatberry Bake Shop
3985 Harlem Road, Amherst, 839-3500
Among the bakery’s sourdough efforts is a part-sourdough loaf with whole wheat flour, fortified with cracked wheat. The grains are allowed to ferment with sourdough starter, to help start the digestion process. $5.49.
New York rye from Mazurek’s Bakery
543 South Park Ave., 853-7833
On Fridays and Saturdays, regular customers make their trip to South Park Avenue for a traditional rye bread made from sourdough starter, made in the same steam-fired oven, with the same recipe, since the 1930s. 2-pound loaf $5.35.
Baguette from BreadHive
123 Baynes St., 980-5623
All of this bakery’s breads, bagels and pretzels are based on wild yeast sourdough starter. After doughs are mixed, a day of slow fermentation aids flavor and digestibility. The hand-rolled baguette emerges from the oven crackly-crusted. $3.25.
The wheat-stalk-like version, called an epi, is currently made for bread service at Buffalo Proper, 333 Franklin St., and is not available for retail sale.
Email Andrew Galarneau at email@example.com