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Our Neighbors: Lokal Bakery, Katowice

2024-03-08
Our Neighbors: Lokal Bakery, Katowice

Recently, while preparing for our "Przedwiośnie"/Early Spring drop, we paid a visit to Lokal Bakery, our neighbors from Koszutka. Taking advantage of their Mondays-off schedule, we decided to use the bakery’s space as the background for our lookbook - but afterward, we also stayed a bit longer, taking our time to talk about when, where, and why the idea to devote their lives to baking good (well, that would be an understatement!) bread emerged in Ola’s & Radek’s minds.

Although we have known each other for quite some time now - after all, we have been operating just a block away for almost 10 years - we learned a lot during the conversation. One could even say enough to have it written down and shared with you...

 


…but we have to start with a little correction first.

As Radek emphasizes, calling Monday a day off is not entirely true in their case - we quickly found out that a good bakery, even when closed for customers, is still open; the sourdough does not rest. Firstly, you need to feed it and prepare bread dough for the next day; secondly, such a day is a perfect occasion for some experiments that require spare time, peace, and a free oven.

By the way, we ourselves had an opportunity to witness (and engage in, we might even say) one of them - bread that had been fermenting longer but at a lower temperature. Needless to say, it was delicious, right?

 

We would like to be able to add that we helped with the preparation, but that would be an exaggeration - the best we could do was not to disturb - but at least we have learned something in the process. We got to know how to check if the bread is ready, using just a hand and ear (basically, it’s all about what sound the loaf makes), how long it all takes, and (most of all!) how it tastes.

We might not have been entirely objective in our assessment of the experiment, being so hungry after the photoshoot and even more after hearing the stories... but it’s really hard to beat the taste of a fresh, hot, sourdough loaf with a proper, thick layer of butter and a touch of salt.

Half-full, we had an even bigger appetite for Radek’s story.

 


Let's start with the sourdough

Our bread is made without added yeast. For 10 years, we have been running the same culture of sourdough, which has already traveled half the world with us - we call it the Mother. It is responsible for the proper rise of our bread.

How do we differ from a traditional Silesian bakery? We don't speed anything up; we actually slow down the whole process. The most important ingredient for great bread is time: we use the extended fermentation method to ensure that the dough is properly fermented, the adverse effects of gluten are minimized (long fermentation weakens it), and the loaf has a beautiful amber-brown crust and velvety crumb.

In the early days of our bakery, some customers thought that our bread was burnt - while in reality, dark brown is the correct color; the well-baked outside protects the loaf from aging too quickly.

 


Convenience of work is very important to us; however, extended fermentation technique is not yet well known in Poland. Before baking, the bread rests in a special fermentation chamber, under strictly controlled conditions, with appropriate temperature and humidity. This allows us to start work not at night, but (early) in the morning - we usually start at 5 am, like the aviation industry.

Our flagship bread is made from wheat bread flour from a traditional mill in Podlasie, supplemented with whole-grain organic rye flour, as well as salt and water, which in Katowice are of great quality. All whole grain flours we work with are certified as organic food.

 

How did it all start?

[Ola and I] are the founders of the first craft (new wave) bakery in Silesia; we have been operating since 2015. We are partners in life and in business. Ola is responsible primarily for the so-called front of the house, decor, flowers, team spirit, and all organizational matters; she knows all the customers. I take care of technological issues and the so-called back of the house - I know the culture of our sourdough and yeast pretty well.

We have always wanted to operate in the hospitality industry. Even during my corporate times, I experimented a lot with bread and sourdough in my home kitchen. When we visited the USA for the very first time (mind you, this is where the new bread wave started), we fell in love with a kind of bakery that we had never seen in Poland before. We came to the conclusion that this is the right time to start our first food business - we packed our bags, moved out of the apartment in Warsaw, and returned to Silesia, deciding that it would be much easier to take the first steps in a new industry here. Back then, there wasn't much happening in Katowice in terms of slow food; it was a chance for us. We had no experience but tremendous enthusiasm for work and a drive for knowledge. We totally felt like pioneers!

 

The rents in downtown Katowice were beyond our budget, so we had to look further. Koszutka, with the Geszeft (today Poszetka Concept) and Poszetka stores operating there, reminded us of our beloved Warsaw's Śródmieście Południowe (South Central). There was something cooking here - so it seemed like the perfect place to start a bakery.
 

10 years later

We bake about 1,500 loaves a week in two bakeries: in 2018, we opened a second place in Piotrowice, in the south of Katowice. It is a beautiful suburban district with pre-war modernist buildings. It fit perfectly into the mission of localism, which accompanied us from the very beginning and gave the concept its name.

During the pandemic - contrary to what one may think - the food industry has moved forward significantly. Unfortunately, many places went bankrupt, but we knew that, according to the corporate maxim, "up or out" was the way to go! It was then that we decided to expand our tiny premises in Koszutka. We signed a lease agreement for the space just behind the wall, and our first bakery gained an impressive production space and more places to sit for our customers, whose loyal group has been with us from the very beginning.

 

New passion

In the meantime, during our next trip to France, we completed training in baking traditional sourdough Panettone. The dough consists of almost the same amount of flour, butter, and egg yolks; it rises for a long time, and its shelf life (after baking) exceeds a month. Plus traditional additions: candied orange peel and top-quality chocolate.

Panettone is now our new hook and a personal favorite. We don't bake them regularly; for now, they are only available on special occasions, each time selling like, well, hot cakes. For sure, we will be having them this March, right before Easter!

 

Lokal Bakery today

It is definitely a meeting place for people in Koszutka: local entrepreneurs, community activists, and, above all, regular residents. We are an open bakery where people come not only for bread but also to drink good specialty coffee - as you can guess, getting up early has effectively made us addicted to the black brew! We brew beans from our friendly Mokxa roastery in France (one of the first specialty roasteries in this country).

 


More than just bread and coffee

We have been friends with Neon Brothers (formerly Neon IRSA) from the beginning. Brothers Michał and Miłosz continue the work of their father, who was behind the creation of all the most famous neon signs of this city - Katowice, apart from the often-mentioned gardens, is definitely the city of neons. Various neon signs appear periodically in our interiors, mainly as a part of the decor... but of course one can buy them, we are glad to help with that.

We also cooperate with the Academy of Fine Arts in Katowice, which lends us paintings by young, local artists. Currently, you can admire the works of Basia Flores decorating our space.

 

Lokal and Poszetka

We got to know Poszetka even before we moved out of Warsaw - first, of course, through hand-rolled pocket squares, then came the wonderful grenadine ties. Every opportunity to give someone a timeless gift led us to Poszetka.

When we moved to Koszutka and Poszetka's assortment expanded, I started going there in person to buy high-quality flannel shirts for work - but also GYW shoes, which served me faithfully for every occasion. Recently, more practically, I fell in love with the casual KLEMANs, which can withstand the harsh Polish winter weather - but also the hardships of running a bakery!

 

I have always loved Poszetka’s hats (mainly tweed flat caps), socks and - perhaps surprisingly - Scottish wool blankets. Our wardrobes also include several pairs of leather gloves and all the basic clothing necessities. :)

Recently, I fell for a white Shetland turtleneck from the Baltic collection - that’s definitely my favorite!

 

Let's finish the article with a subtle suggestion: next time you are nearby, let your feet guide you to Koszutka district, stopping off at both Poszetka and Lokal Bakery. once you are there. It’s worth it.

And if you're not planning a trip to Katowice... well, think about it.

 
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