Sunday, November 13, 2011

I Go to Extremes

In bakeries, that is.  Last week, I visited a brand new, state-of-the-art bakery that specializes in gluten-free products. On Saturday, I happened upon a traditional, family-owned, bakery that has been in business almost 100 years!  A separate post on Get Fresh Bake House (the gluten-free facility) is coming shortly. 

But right now, step back with me to the early 1900's.  Kohout's Bakery in Garfield, NJ, opened its doors in 1917. It moved to its current location in 1924. Walk in and the sights and smells transport you back. Heavy wooden bakery cases line the walls, laden with old-fashioned baked goods. Delectable treats such as glazed doughnuts, yeasty crullers (how many of you even know what a cruller is???), crumb cake, and sweet, fat tea biscuits (pictured at the top of the post) sit waiting for you. Not to mention the gorgeous Danish pastries, salt sticks, and hearty rye and pumpernickel breads that I was lusting after!  A girl can only eat so much...

As a kid, I remember going to bakeries like this many Sundays after church - I think it's what started me down the dessert highway of my life. There was something really nice about the routine. I can still remember the anticipation of walking through that bakery door and seeing the array of beautiful pastries and cakes just lined up for the taking. There aren't many of these bakeries left anymore. They've mostly been replaced by supermarket bakeries pretending to bake but they're really just "baking off" the dough that's been shipped to them by the mother ship. I'm not saying these items are bad, but they're definitely lacking authenticity. I can count on one hand the number of small, individually-owned bakeries in this vicinity. It's a sad state of affairs.

Look at the texture of the dough in the cruller in this photo. It's amazing - yeasty pockets of dense deliciousness. And the crumb cake - mounds of butter-cinnamon-infused crumbs strewn over a delicious dough. But they are nothing compared to the tea biscuit - two inches thick, and bursting with plump raisins. Mine was enjoyed slathered with butter and plum preserves. Nobody makes tea biscuits anymore - too bad. They are a throwback to a more genteel time.

Got a small, neighborhood bakery near you? Patronize it. If not, pretty soon they'll be extinct. And that would be a shame.

Kohout's Bakery
75 Jewell Street
Garfield, NJ


  1. Thank you for posting this article and these wonderful photos. The original owner was my great uncle Karel(Charlie) Kohout who came to this country in 1909. His youngest brother, my grandfather worked with him for a while and then opened his own bakery, also called Kohout's, across the Passaic River in Clifton, NJ. I worked there most weekends and every summer of my youth. Since we sold many of the same things, this really takes me back -- especially your description of Sunday mornings because I was on the other side of a counter like this one from the age of 11 until about 17. I'm very grateful my cousin Charlie Kohout (the current owner) keeps these traditions alive.

    1. Hi, Marie. Thank you for your comment. What a small world that you should read my blog & your family were/are the owners! Kohout's is truly a treasure! Best wishes! Terry


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