Saturday, June 22, 2013

Milkbread and Zombies

Yesterday I should have known.

Sue McGleno boarded her little VW and headed south to Omaha.

During her absence, Klecko was busy placing the finishing touches on Milk Bread recipes.

Milk Bread is kinda the buzz around the Twin Cities at the moment.....

due to the fact that one of our cities award winning pastry chefs was making it on the side to fill some wholesale orders.

Why is Milk Bread so sexy?

Maybe because it simply hasn't been available in our area for decades.

Brit's love their Milk Bread.

Brit's love a tight interior and a scorched crumbwall.

The best way to really make a Milk Bread sing loud is to add butter for your fat and paint the top of the bun with a glaze before you toss it in your proof box.


I was going to have a Rusty Nail last night, then wake up this morning and watch Rifleman (which is a secret indulgence for the 1 out of 4 Fridays I don't have to be somewhere @ 6 a.m.) but our power went out.

In fact 250 000 people lost power in the Metro, I have been w/o for 11 hours now.

And when this stuff happens......wouldn't you know???? It comes like a thief in the night.

It always takes place just 90 minutes after you unloaded a buttload of groceries you just bought.

The last time I lost power for an extended time, it was winter and Sue McGleno and KiKi were somewhere in the tropics on Jet Ski's while Baby Tydas and I just sat in the living room.

Our furnace was dead, it was cold and we couldn't see 1 foot in front of our face.

We just sat and hours passed in absolute silence, which was finally broke by my sons voice declaring.....

"Thanks for not making me play a game or read, I would just like to sit here and wait for death."

LOL...I so agree with his stance.

Anyways, it wouldn't even be so bad, but Sue McGleno has a mentally challenged Jack Russell named Romeo, and he was spastic throughout the entire night.

I just laid there in bed with him and Deedle-Deedle until the sun came up.

Without power, waiting for the sun is like trying to wait out a vampire.....

Tick...........Tock drags the clock.

So now I am on the way to work right?

I am going to put groceries in the cooler/freezer and charge my phone.

Theres trees blown over and everything is not just wet....

It's wet-wet, if that makes sense.

As I chugged down the early morning freeway in my bread truck.

It occurred to me how weird the world would get, or how fast it would get weird if we didn't have civil municipalities to fix our ailing situation.

People would freak hard, and freak fast huh?

Oh yeah, one last thing.....

So last night I considered praying for my lights to come back on.

But then I thought about puppies lost and people with cancer and I felt cloddish for my request.

I know some of you pray, but I don't enjoy asking God for small things. I try to save my requests up so when I do drop them before the almighty.....they will have impact.

Let their be lights guys...the baker has stuff to do today.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Klecko For Mayor?

Q&A with Danny Klecko, CEO of Saint Agnes Baking Co.

Updated:   05/29/2013 09:53:55 AM CDT

"I'm a diva," said Danny Klecko, CEO of Saint Agnes Bakery in St. Paul. "Ansel Adams told Bono if you stare into a camera, no one will pay attention to you. A diva will always look away." (Pioneer Press: Jean Pieri)

Occupation: CEO of Saint Agnes Baking Co. (644 Olive St., St. Paul; 651-290-7633;

Age: 49

When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up? I always wanted to be a baker. If you look at my Dr. Seuss "My Book About Me" book, it asked what you wanted to be when you grew up, and I put baker. I liked the nocturnal factor. Knowing you could have a job and stay awake all night was appealing to me. And being Polish, to us, bread is everything. I've always been inspired by bread more than anything.

What's your first food memory? Eating black breads at Blackey's Bakery (in Northeast Minneapolis, now closed). When I was growing up, we didn't have a lot of money, so we didn't get a lot of treats, but when we got that black bread from Blackey's, that was a real treat.

What was your first job in food? I worked my way through restaurants as a dishwasher at Byerly's, Country Kitchen. My first actual baking job was 30 years ago. I worked for Pam Sherman (co-founder of New French Cafe) at her Southtown plant. She had half a dozen or more different bakeries, but the plant started in Bloomington.

How did you wind up in the baking business for good? I went to Dunwoody. They used to have the second-best baking school in America. From there I worked at Super Mom's, where I watched the bread lines. That's how I got my big start.

How much of your day do you spend baking?
  It depends what day it is and what part of the month it is. I would say 15 percent of my time is spent actually baking. When I'm doing that, it's almost always research and development for new products.

What's your favorite bread to bake? For the first couple of decades, it used to be sourdough. But I've been making hand-dipped pretzel breads for the past few years, and that has taken over. I make them in a baguette form. I use gloves and goggles and dip the bread in caustic soda (lye). Most of the pretzel breads you get are the variety that are dipped in baking soda. Those aren't the real deal.

What's something few people know about you? When people look at me -- I'm 6-foot-3 and 270 pounds -- they think I'm a thug, but I'm actually very sensitive. I'm a poet. I just released a book with former Pioneer Press columnist Mike Finley. I've emceed shows with St. Paul's Poet Laureate Carol Connolly.

What makes the perfect hamburger bun? Knowing where the hamburger bun is going to be served, how it's going to be prepared and what condiments are going to be on it. You have to start from there and create a specialty bun. At Saint Agnes, we believe that the person who creates the best hamburger bun runs the city. So you have to get in there and listen to the chefs and create a bun for them. We're mixing science and art.

How about brats? In some ways, those buns can be a little bit trickier because there are so many variants in sausages and dogs. When a person puts in an order, he uses generic terms, but we have to make sure we're listening closely so we can get it to a specific spec.

What's something in your career that you wish you had done differently? I set a course from the time I was young. My past seemed illogical, because in the late 1970s early '80s, only 12 percent of baked goods were breads. Everything was pastry back then, and people thought I was kind of an oddball. But I stuck it out, and it has been a fun journey. I don't regret a thing.

What's your favorite restaurant? I'm a breakfast guy. Day By Day on West Seventh (in St. Paul). I like the food. But I guess just as important, I think they have the nicest service staff in the Twin Cities.

If someone were to play you in a movie, who should it be? The young Danny Klecko would be Vin Diesel. The old Danny Klecko would be Christopher Walken.

What's next? I'm going to be the mayor of St. Paul. When this (baking career) is over with, I'm going to run Capitol City. I've been here, worked here, taught kids how to hit baseballs. I've coached HGRA baseball for 15 years now. I know everybody. I'm a St. Paul guy.

FYI: Saint Agnes Baking Co. is open to the public on the first Saturday of every month from 10 a.m. to noon at 644 Olive St., St. Paul. You can purchase bread there or at Minneapolis and St. Paul farmers' markets on Saturdays. June 1 is themed a "Fan Favorite Retail Event" during which the bakery will sell items its customers have been asking for, such as rhubarb scones, maple bacon monkey bread, lingonberry bars and pretzel brat buns.
-- Jess Fleming