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Baking Bread

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The Not-so-daily Bread

We all seem to be missing the smell of the crunchy, country bread. In the nowadays era of steam powered bakeries, which are baking bread from the ready made dough, and the toast bread and other bakery products prepared by machines – it really is hard to get the real thing, a loaf baked in the traditional way and with no artificial additives nor preservatives. This real bread has its own history and special meaning, especially in the Mazovia region. Some of the ladies here still bake their own, homemade bread.

The bread baking had been one of the key activities in the traditional communities. However, unlike in the popular saying, the bread was not really quite daily – as there was not enough of it for all. Flour was by no means the cheapest product. And the bread baking had been considered a sacred process. The bread, being a food, had also had certain hallmarks of a sacrum. During the bread baking procedure a set of rules had to be observed, so the dough would rise properly and the bread could be eaten during the whole next week. The finished loaf had to be treated with due respect. Before the first slice was cut out, a sign of cross had to be made above the bread. And one was never allowed to put the bread upside down. Even today, there is the belief that bread should never be thrown away, and when a piece of bread falls off the table one must pick it up and kiss it with respect.

In the Kurpie region the loafs had been formed round, then put on a leaf of horseradish, cabbage or calamus – with the sign of a cross always made above them. Sometimes the loafs were decorated with a linear ornament. Then they would go to the bread oven.

In the years after the world word two, the baking of homemade bread became a vanishing tradition. Such bread was being replaced by the breadstuffs coming for the commercial private, state and cooperative owned bakeries. For some years now, on the wave of a come back to the homemade food products, the bread baking at home becomes more and more popular again. It can also become the added attraction on holiday farms, like the one being run by the Prusaczyk family. The bread baking here is deeply submerged in tradition. Historic equipment and household utensils are being used – like the old kneading trough called “kopańka”. Only the top quality bread baking ingredients are being added: rye flour, pure or with some addition of wheat, comes straight from a mill and fresh milk comes directly from a cow, this way the bread remains fresh for much longer. “The sourdough works up all the time” – says Elżbieta. She bakes the bread for herself, her holiday farm guests, and per individual request for various occasions. The bread tastes invariably delicious and brings back the old Times.

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Gospodarstwo Agroturystyczne "Pod Lipkami"
Tatary 44, 07-420 Kadzidło
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Ms Elżbieta Prusaczyk prepares a variety of regional dishes, including the traditional country bread, as part of her holiday farm operation. She also does the off-farm workshops.