Curious Crumbs: Couple offer a taste of Germany at Miramichi bakery
At the Napan Baykery, the offerings include bread, pretzels, pastries and a lot of things dipped in chocolate
The scent of freshly baked loaves is the first thing you notice when you step over the threshold at the Napan Baykery in Miramichi. It permeates the Water Street store, promising soft, thick slices that will melt on your tongue and fill your belly.
Owners Werner and Kerstin Pesch know exactly how to appeal to their customers.
It has been more than 20 years since they set up shop in New Brunswick, beginning at the local farmers market then moving to a storefront operation.
Along with the bread they have a variety of delicious treats that would typically be found in a German bakery, including pastries and chocolate.
"A lot of things are dipped into chocolate in German baking," Kerstin said. "Chocolate makes everything better."
No truer words have ever been spoken.
The bakery, which got its name from a tributary of the Miramichi River, also has its own dessert, which was inspired by the couple's route to work. It's called the pothole.
"It's a sweet bread dough that consists of a banana cream, apples and raspberries," said Kerstin.
"Like a pothole, but a good kind of pothole," she said.
A craving for fresh-baked bread
But the homemade bread is what draws visitors — even without the butter.
The couple send their bread by bus all over the province. They've even sent loaves out of province, at the request of one customer.
"He called us," said Kerstin, "and asked if we could send the bread to Labrador."
The bakery offers 20 different varieties baked in house everyday.
It's slightly chewy and soft on the inside and the varieties include baguettes, croissants, Bavarian pretzels and buns.
All of the bread and baked goods are based on traditional German recipes — including some gluten-free options.
The back of the store consists of large, well-used ovens still warm from the morning, a variety of kneading machines, and small pots filled with seeds and salt.
The smell of flour and yeast also fills the air.
It runs in the family
Kerstin typically tends to customers at the front of the store. Most customers speak English, but quite a few German come from all over to buy her bread.
"It's very nice to speak German," she said. "My regular customers also like to hear me speak German, even though they have no idea what I'm talking about."
But if they listen closely, guests can hear Werner singing in the back of the store as he's working the dough.
"We only have classical music. And I'm not allowed to have opera because it's too distracting."
Werner wakes up at 2:30 a.m. every day to prepare the bread. At noon, he takes a quick nap, then finishes chores around the house.
Then he's back at work, preparing dough for the next day. He sleeps no more than five hours a night.
"It's quiet in the morning, there's nobody around," he said.
Starting from scratch
Werner comes from a long line of bakers, including his father and grandfather.
At a young age, he vowed he would never become a baker because of the long hours. So he decided to become a teacher in Germany. When teaching positions were being cut, he decided to take over the family business and bake.
"I thought maybe it wasn't a bad idea to get a second job," he said.
When the couple decide to retire, they won't have anyone to take over the business.
But they're trying to stay positive.
"You never know what's going to happen," Kerstin said. "Somebody else might come and open up another German bakery."
With files from Viola Pruss