Fa-la-la-la Flavor: Berkshire Mountain Bakery’s Holiday Bread
Over two decades, Berkshire Mountain Bakery has built its reputation on hand-crafted sourdough and whole grain breads. So it’s somewhat surprising to find founder Richard Bourdon rhapsodizing about his Old World Holiday Bread studded with rum-soaked dried fruits. “I think it’s a stollen,” says Boudon who exudes a laid-back intensity, “but I’m not really sure what defines a stollen. I guess I could go to Wikipedia and find out.” Bourdon, who was born in Canada, learned his craft in Holland. He manages to replicate traditional holiday flavors, summoning up forgotten memories, while maintaining his reputation for producing healthy, delicious breads. “It took me a while to come up with this recipe,” he says. “I had to find ingredients that are festive and clean. It’s next to impossible to find pure almond paste.”
The almond filling is the luscious center thread of Berkshire Mountain’s Holiday Bread, which is available at the bakery’s red-brick headquarters in Housatonic and regional stores such as Guido’s and McEnroe’s. “It’s folded into the center,” he says, slicing a piece that reveals golden raisins, candied ginger, apricots and a pocket of the almond filling. “People in Holland scoop the almond filling out of the pocket with a knife and schmeer it on the slice. Maybe that’s where the world schmeer comes from,” he says, raising his eyebrows as if he were one of the Marx Brothers. “You should heat the slice, and you can schmeer either before or after you warm it.” He will continue to bake Holiday Breads through New Year’s.
Bourdon, who entered the Berkshires food world via the macrobiotic movement, is a crunchy-granola gourmet. (He is not a certified organic baker because the process is such a “nightmare,” he says. “Only big companies can afford to do all the tracking and paperwork.”) While it’s no secret that Berkshire Mountain Bakery makes the crusts for Baba Louie’s wood-fired organic pizzas, Bourdon also sells his own pizza crusts for home cooks (a slightly different recipe than Baba Louie’s and definitely thicker) and an extraordinary line of frozen pizzas, including goat cheese and pesto, sun-dried tomato and mozzarella, garlic with three cheeses. (I always keep serveral in the freezer.) You pull them from the freezer, put them on the middle rack of a pre-heated 425 oven and twelve minutes later you have, depending on the time of day, lunch, a great hot hors d’oeuvre, or dinner. Since most people in our region can’t get a pizza delivered at home, a Berkshire Mountain Bakery pizza in the freezer is the next best thing. Actually, on a snowy night when you don’t feel like cooking, it is the best thing in the world.
Berkshire Mountain Bakery
367 Park Street (aka Route 183), Housatonic, MA: 413.274.3412
Monday - Friday: 9 AM - 6 PM.
Saturday: 9 AM.- 5 PM
Sunday: 11 AM - 5 PM