When it comes to bread, Slovaks are discerning customers who want their loaf to be plump and airy with a light texture and a shiny golden crust. A traditional Slovak loaf will have an oval shape and weigh 1 kg (2.2 lb), although smaller loaves are becoming increasingly popular.Given the size of the country and its population (5,4 mil.), we have a very dense network of bakeries, which means the competition is really high and so is the variety of breads. The Slovaks tend to favour small producers, who bring more personalized touch to their breads, as well as exciting subtlety of flavours.
When touring my native region of Podpoľanie a couple of weeks ago, I went to see two bakeries whose owners were kind enough to let me take a few pictures of their breads. The Vidlička & Son Bakery is a family-run business specializing in wheat-rye bread, rolls and fine pastries. The family use their own recipes and a very specific method of preparing the dough, which allows plenty of time for it to rise.
The father and the son built a thriving business from an old dysfunctional community school. The two of them and their extended family were all involved in the makeover.
The Hriňová Bakery is a small regional business that has been in operation for over 15 years now. They started with six bakers, but grew in size as the demand for their products rose over the years. Today the bakery counts 40 people who deliver fabulous breads to local groceries, as well as most hotels and tourists resorts in the area.
Their bread is more complex in texture and darker in colour than that of the Vidlička & Son Bakery because of the higher proportion of rye flour. Another popular ingredient in a Slovak bread is mashed potato, which adds springiness, an unmistakable flavour and a wonderful aroma to the final product.
All breads at the Hriňová Bakery are kneaded by hand and baked in ovens resembling the traditional ones.As the Detvian strudel, the wheat-rye bread from the Hriňová Bakery was awarded the Regional Product of Podpolanie Award. Apart from the various breads, the bakery also makes a wide range of fine pastries, steamed dumplings and rolls. All well-worth trying!