My grandfather, Peter Blak Sr. came from Poland to New York in 1905, bringing with him the skills he acquired while apprenticing at Hotel Bristol, a luxury hotel in Warsaw that still operates to this day.
Peter worked for about a decade in bakeries in Rochester, New York where his brother lived before coming to Detroit and then Windsor. He was in his early 30s when he started Blak’s Bakery at this very location in 1918.
A Strong Foundation
“The sour is, as we know, is the original sour from my grandfather. Every day we save some and 'feed' it for the next day.
It is a fermented mixture of flour and water that gets refreshed with more flour before it is put in the refrigerator at night to rise.
We always mix the sour by hand, so to think the same sour my grandfather and father fed, me, my son and now my nephew is mixing by hand.”
Owner-Baker Valerie Blak-Gill
Our 100-Year-Old Brick Oven
Our 100-year-old Petersen oven gives our bread a unique one-of-a-kind taste as well as that awesome crackly Blak's crust. The oven is so deep it takes a twelve-foot-long wooden paddle known as a peel to reach the back. Our brick oven can bake approximately 240 loaves at one time.
The oven is also equipped with a steam valve which is opened and closed during the baking process at precisely the right time. Steam is vital so that the surface of the loaf remains moist and expands easily. Once the yeast has died and the loaf is set, moisture is no longer a friend to your bread. Too much moisture throughout the bake can lead to a thick, rubbery crust and cause the bread to fracture.
The process to completely shut down and restart the oven takes eight days. The oven must be gradually cooled over a period of four days, to restart the temperature is then gradually increased over another four days.