It’s all about the hand-built, wood-fired brick oven inside this tiny Brimfield bakery. “I wanted people to see it, because it’s sort of the soul of the bakery,” says Jud Smith, who owns the 4-year-old place with his wife, Genevieve. Everything from yeasty hand-rolled German pretzels to flaky napoleons to crusty loaves of European breads and even chocolate chip cookies get their start in the 54-square-foot vessel that reaches up to 600 degrees. Smith appreciates the crisp crust the wood fire imparts — and others have taken notice. In just a few short years, Brimfield Bread Oven has turned into something the locals support and appreciate, with customers stopping in for coffee and a pastry on their way to work. On weekends, they return with their families for wood-fired pizza, beer and wine, and to play some records or peruse the books and magazines in the seating area. “Wood-fire baking is the way everything used to be done,” Smith says. “But it’s not so common anymore, except in parts of Europe, because heating an oven evenly with wood is a skilled job in itself.” 3956 state Route 43, Kent, 330-474-7800, brimfieldbreadoven.com
Our Pick: Smith cures sprouted grains overnight for his vollkornbrot ($8), a German rye bread that’s naturally leavened. The grains develop a rich, malty flavor that pairs well with cured meats or strong cheese.
“The way we designed the recipe out over a couple of days is convenient. You don’t have to wait around for little more than an hour on each given day for any processing. It’s a long process, but the amount of work time is relatively short.” — Jud Smith, co-owner of
Brimfield Bread Oven
6¾ cups all-purpose or bread flour (not self-rising)
1/3 cup whole rye or wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon dry instant yeast
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/3 cups warm water
3 tablespoons room-temperature butter cornmeal
4 cups cool water1/3 cup baking soda coarse sea salt
3 tablespoons honey or molasses
Day 1: In a mixing bowl, incorporate all-purpose or bread flour (not self-rising), whole rye or wheat flour, dry instant yeast and salt. Add warm water, room-temperature butter and honey or molasses (optional). Incorporate the ingredients using your hands or a wooden spoon until smooth and well-incorporated (and the bowl is clean). Let the dough rest, covered, for 1 hour. Then, working around the circumference of the dough, grab a substantial amount and stretch it upward, and then fold and press into the center. Repeat around the entire edge of the dough until it has been evenly stretched and folded. Cover the dough and refrigerate overnight.
Day 2: Preheat oven to 435 degrees. Line a baking pan with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. If using parchment, spray the parchment then sprinkle with cornmeal to prevent the pretzels from sticking. On countertop or wooden surface, press the dough into a rectangle and divide into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a small log and let rest, covered, 15-30 minutes. Then, beginning at the middle, roll each log until it’s about the thickness of three pencils together. Then, using both hands and moving them apart, roll the pretzel log longer, leaving the middle thicker and tapering toward the ends. Once the log is about 24 inches long, cross the ends and twist one full time after crossing. Fold down the ends to meet the sides of the loop. Press ends firmly to the sides of the pretzel. Repeat with each pretzel. In a 2-quart bowl, add 4 cups cool water. Sprinkle 1/3 cup baking soda into the water and whisk until fully dissolved. Put a screen (or cooking rack) above a 9-by-13-inch baking dish and put the bowl either on top of this or adjacent to it. Grab each pretzel with two hands to support the legs and dip into the solution for a couple seconds, allowing excess solution to drip back into the bowl. Place each pretzel on the screen for a minute or so to allow any further excess of the solution to drip off, and then carefully transfer each pretzel to your baking pan. Sprinkle each pretzel with coarse sea salt and bake until shiny and brown. (Start checking at about 10 minutes and do not overbake).