Granny Omi Bread Baked in a Brick Oven
The inviting browned crusts of fresh-baked round loaves of bread, with their distinctive criss-cross pattern, form a pleasing mosaic on the tables of Murray Hollow Bakers each Saturday at the Lincoln Baths.
Located on the market’s second floor in the back room (a spot known for several culinary treasures at the market – don’t miss it!), Nancy Rountree sells the bread baked by her husband, Doug, a professional chef who draws on more than 35 years of kitchen experience.
“Baking bread is a second career for Doug,” explains his wife. “After more than three decades in hotel kitchens, he wanted to work for himself and bake out of a brick oven. Our oven in the woods is really special: Doug built most of it just by reading library books. The bake-house looks like it is two hundred years old, with stucco finish and all the post and beam construction. Doug cuts all his own wood using hand tools.”
Located in Shushan (Washington County), Murray Hollow Bakers occasionally hosts a field trip at the bake house. “We’re up in the woods, northeast of Cambridge, very close to the Vermont border,” notes Nancy.
“We sell a variety of naturally leavened, artisan, wood-fired brick oven breads. Every other week we switch between a corn bread and an organic whole wheat bread, which is a new product.”
In addition to Saratoga Farmers’ Market, where Murray Hollow Bakers is in its third season, the business sells to local co-ops, independent grocery stores, and catering businesses.
“Doug’s love of cooking and baking has been inspired by his parents, Joe and Jenny Rountree, and his grandmother, Granny Omi Williams, who is credited on the labels of our Granny Omi Bread,” comments Nancy Rountree.
When not producing and selling bread for the market, the couple pursues other community interests. Doug Rountree is a member of the Bread Bakers Guild, a trade group that support the craft. Nancy Rountree is an independent artist, producing oil canvas still life paintings. She involves the artisan bread with her craft during the busy artistic happenings in Washington County during the summer months.
Stop by the table of Murray Hollow Bakers for a sample of Granny Omi’s bread this weekend. Save the last of your loaf for this recipe, provided by Nancy and Doug Rountree.
Pork Chops with Rye Bread Stuffing
*Ingredients are available at the market
6 pork loin chops*, one inch thick
2 Tbsp butter
1 medium onion*, chopped
1 large clove garlic*, minced
1 ½ cups rye bread* crumbs
¾ tsp salt
½ tsp caraway seeds
¼ cup chopped parsley*
1 egg*, slightly beaten
3 Tbsp water
1 cup stock or water
2 Tbsp flour
Make bread crumbs by placing chunks of bread in food processor, by chopping with knife, or tearing by hand until fine.
Cut pockets in the pork chops. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a skillet, heat the butter and saute the onion and garlic for five minutes. Remove from heat. Combine with the bread crumbs, salt, caraway, parsley, egg and three tablespoons water. Mix well.
Stuff the chops with the bread crumb mixture, closing the openings with toothpicks.
Place the chops in a baking pan and season to taste with additional salt and pepper. Cover and bake 30 minutes. Uncover and continue baking until brown and tender, about 30 minutes longer. Remove chops to a heated platter.
To make gravy, pour off fat from pan. Add stock to pan, place over heat, and bring to a boil. Thicken with flour, mixed with a little water, and stir over medium heat until gravy reaches desired thickness.