Everything tastes great with bacon, so set your sights for Ann Arbor, Michigan as Zingerman’s Bakery and their community of businesses sponsor their ninth annual 5 days of Camp Bacon from May 30 to June 3. Zingerman’s has been around since they opened a deli in 1992, known for making great sandwiches from around the world. They went on to add their fresh baked goods two years later. What does this all have to do with bacon?
I had the opportunity to interview co-partners Frank Carollo and Amy Emberling after receiving a recipe book titled Zingerman’s Bakehouse as their 25th Anniversary. I also received samples of their delicious goodies, most of which the book includes these recipes. There are no hidden ingredients, these are the real things.
Zingerman’s originally started by Paul Saginaw and Ari Weinzweig in a historic building near the Ann Arbor Farmers' Market. They featured huge corned beef sandwiches, an exceptional array of farmhouse cheeses, estate-bottled olive oils, varietal vinegars, smoked fish, salami, coffee, tea and much, much more. Now there are 10 separate entities that include a Creamery, mail order, the original deli, a coffee company, candy company, restaurant, and a Korean restaurant called Miss Kim.
One of their signature sellers is their sour cream coffee cake with walnuts. Probably even more popular (not in the cook book and not always available) is the Apple Bacon Coffee Cake. Perfect breakfast start as you get your protein, fruit, and grain in one fell swoop. “Not your classic Jewish coffee cake,” said Emberling.
Man cannot live by Roadhouse Bread, alone. “If you want a great sandwich, you have to make a great bread,” said Carollo. This hearty dark crusty loaf is made with rye flour, cornmeal, wheat and a bit of molasses. I think it would be a great vehicle for a bowl of their cheddar ale soup. Roadhouse Bread is just one of a huge line of breads from all over the world.
Along with baking breads, they decided to include pastries as well leading them into non-stop progress adding a baking school as well.
Let us turn to something savory like their line of Hungarian foods of which I sampled the rétes (ray-tesh), better known as strudel. They take their own fresh dough and hand-stretch it over an 8 ft. table until it's thin enough to see through. It is then folded and layered with melted butter and a sprinkle of bread crumbs, wrapped around fresh fillings. I chose one stuffed with cabbage arriving with the raw dough so that I could bake it golden brown. Here were my thoughts. Although delicious by itself I prepared a sauce made from crushed tomatoes, chopped beef and raisins. Now I would have the tastings of stuffed cabbage! Oh yeah, they have a traditional Hungarian potato with bacon. Bacon…!
“We started to research other parts of the world and happened upon Hungary with a developed cuisine,” Emberley said. “There is a large Jewish population of Ashkanazi immigrants and we decided to educate people about the food. Aside from the retes, we have many pastries such as our great torta cakes.”
The Creamery produces soft cheeses such as a spicy Pimento Cheese made with cheddar and a Cream Cheese like no other. It is minus the additives. I experienced it as a cross between a whipped cream cheese and crème fraiche. Milk comes locally from Calder Farms and Guernsey Dairy.
“Our cherries come from Northern Michigan, mainly Traverse City at Cherry Central,” said Emberley. “Michigan is said to be the largest producers of chestnuts. In fact, we make chestnut baguettes from the flour coming from the Michigan Chestnut Association.”
Bakehouse Cookbook also features a baker’s dozen of their favorites: Just Rhubarb Rhubarb Pie; Dinkelbrot German Spelt Bread; Bakehouse Bagels; Sicilian Sesame Semolina Bread; Focaccia with Gorgonzola and Caramelized Onions; Somodi Kalacs Transylvania Cinnamon Swirl Bread; Bakehouse Brownies: Black Magic, Magic, and Buenos Aires; Hunka Burnin’ Love Cake; Detroit Style Pizza; Tunisian Orange and Olive Oil Cake; Walnut and Current Rugelach; French Crullers; and Bakehouse Blondies.
Incidentally, along with the recipes, the book includes essays and brief stories on how they work together. I do not use cook books when I prepare food, but in this case the science of baking makes it necessary if I want to produce the absolute best and delicious goodies. The bakery is located at 3711 Plaza Drive, 734-761 2095. www.zingermansbakehouse.com