“A loaf of bread, a jug of wine and thou, Beside me singing in the wilderness -- And Wilderness is Paradise enow.”
In past issues, I have visited some of the nearest and best wineries in the Kerr and Gillespie counties area. Texas made reds, whites, and pinks, all enjoyable with food and people. This month, I began an adventurous journey about the Hill Country, in search of true artisan breads to accompany those wines. Even small villages like Comfort boast of bakeries that can close for the weekend due to the demand for birthday cakes, yet I want for a source of assorted local, hard crusted, chewy, artisan boule.
In my journeys through the Hill Country, I visited many great bakers of traditional and delicious European sweets like the Old German Bakery in Fredericksburg, Haby’s Alsatian Bakery in Castroville, and Texas’s oldest bakery, since 1868, Naegelin’s in New Braunfels. Naegelin’s makes the world’s greatest apple, peach, or cherry strudels. All of these bakeries do make an excellent loaf of Pullman style breads that are typically sliced for sandwiches.
Staying on the sweet side is easy. There are nearly 100 hundred professional bakers in a 60 mile radius of Kerrville that boast of birthday, anniversary, and wedding cakes, and others that specialize in delicious pies. A good example of a pie maker is the publicly traded Tootie’s Pies based in Boerne with an absolute killer apple pie weighing in at over six pounds.
A good source of my sought after savory baked goods can be found at my ole standby of gourmet delights, the Pearl Farmer’s Market. An assortment of excellent bakeries from San Antonio can be found there. Sol y Luna is usually present at this Saturday morning event, which has become a necessary requirement for a planned gourmet dinner at our home.
While you are in San Antonio, the two Whole Foods Markets and the gourmet’s mecca of HEB’s Central Market both produce a wide assortment of true artisan breads. Many can be tasted, and some can be sliced, if you wish, for sandwiches.
A true find, in the frozen bread section of both of our Kerrville HEB stores, was the Central Market brand of frozen artisan breads. These loaves and buns are half baked and then frozen. You simply thaw them for about the same time it takes to get your oven heated to 400 degrees. Then you bake them for about 15 minutes. Then cool for about five minutes before slicing or ripping apart. A rich Italian olive oil dip or some unsalted butter completes the treat.
The Ciabatta bread and rolls are our family favorites. The Central Market French and multi-grain products are also top drawer. The HEB on Main also has a selection of locally baked artisan bread in their bakery.
With this article you would expect a great recipe for crusty bread. Until I return from a bread baking course in 2014 at a Tuscan artisan bread school, you will have to do with my favorite biscuit and smoked sausage gravy recipes.