Bread has played a significant role in family and community life for thousands of years. Bäckerhaus Veit, a family-owned artisan bread company, still celebrates that old world tradition, which is why they still use bread recipes that have been passed down for generations.
Bäckerhaus Veit means “Veit house of fine bakers”—a fitting name for a family with seven decades of bread making experience behind them. In 1927, Albert Veit opened the first Bäckerhaus Veit bakery in Germany. With over seventy-five locations in the region, the bakery has grown to be a great success in Europe.
Decades since its inception, Albert’s granddaughter, Sabine Veit, brought her knowledge and passion with her to Toronto, Ontario to open her own Bäckerhaus Veit bakery. Veit couldn’t imagine doing anything else. “Baking is my passion,” she says. “I love the environment it creates. Every culture has a relationship with bread; you can talk to anybody about it.”
Staying true to her family traditions, Veit continued to bake authentic artisan bread using over 100 recipes that have stayed within the family. These recipes have endured over 75 years of changes in consumer preferences and customer needs.
Growing the retail business in Canada came naturally to Veit, and her bakery quickly built a local reputation for producing signature European breads, rolls and pretzels. Before long, customer demand for the bakery’s premium breads outgrew capacity, and Veit’s dream of widening her customer base finally became a reality. In 1993, Veit moved the operation to a purpose-built 35,000-square-foot bakery, which was expanded in 2005 to a total of 52,000 square feet. Here, Veit continues to successfully blend the quality of family recipes with the efficiency and the consistency of European baking technology.
Instead of continuing with retail, however, Veit wanted to focus on quality frozen products with extended shelf life and switched the operation to wholesale, producing frozen specialty breads for the food service and retail channels.
The new 14,000-square-foot storage freezer holds more than 1,000 pallets in two freezing rooms. In addition to the storage freezer, Bäckerhaus built temperature controlled shipping docks to provide the company with more quality control of its inventory.
Bäckerhaus Veit’s distribution is now split evenly between the United States and Canada. Here in Canada, the bakery ships private-label products to in-store bakeries and various foodservice channels. In Canada, Bäckerhaus-branded products can be found in Sobeys and Longos. You might even enjoy an artisan loaf of theirs in a restaurant, although you probably wouldn’t know it.
What is artisan bread?
“I don’t know if anyone has successfully defined artisan bread in a way that everyone agrees on yet,” says Veit. “But to a large extent, it is bread that has been given the right timing and the right temperature. When you let those two elements govern your process, you limit the amount of machines you use. With artisan bread, you cannot just make dough and put it through a machine that makes 200 slices per minute. It doesn’t work when the dough is alive and sticky and moist, which artisan bread dough should be.”
If there’s one thing that everyone can agree on, artisan bread is all about this attention to detail. Every step in the baking process plays an important role in creating the distinctive taste, texture and color.
More than just how it’s made, it also matters who makes it. Bäckerhaus has a team of European-trained Master Bakers who are experts at the artisan baking craft. An artisan baker is highly trained with expertise in the process of mixing, fermenting, shaping and baking handcrafted breads. They are skilled in the science behind the chemical reactions of ingredients, and know how to provide the best environment for the bread to develop.
It is also the job of the Master Bakers to oversee the production lines and the ongoing Research and Development program. The skill that Master Bakers bring to bread making, combined with the use of advanced technology and commitment to customer satisfaction, allows Bäckerhaus the flexibility needed to produce a wide range bread flavours.
To ensure the finest breads, Bäckerhaus uses only natural ingredients. All seeds and grains are sorted and soaked for up to six hours to allow for maximum nutritional benefit. The dough is given the time and temperature needed to develop before it is patiently hand shaped and baked in authentic hearth ovens. In addition, they use only bromate-free, unbleached, wholesome flour, and hand sorted ingredients, such as rosemary, olives, and flax seeds. No artificial colors or sugars are added to any Bäckerhaus products, guaranteeing customers the healthiest and most delicious breads available.
What’s next for Bäckerhaus Veit?
“I see a future in artisan breads,” says Veit. “I think the consumer is learning about the difference that quality makes.” Based on the company’s growth, Veit might be on to something. In light of the bakery’s success, she realises that Bäckerhaus is not immune to increasing commodity and distribution prices. After all, quality comes with a cost, especially when you insist on the best ingredients. In the meantime, Veit is hanging in there, still making the best artisan bread around, saying that “whatever happens, we have to remember our roots and respect the process.”