FAQ

What kind of bakery is Hidden Berry Cakes and Breads? Russian? Eastern European? American?
It is everything together! It is Russian because my wife, eldest daughter and I were all born in Russia, where we have been enjoying breads and cakes since our earliest childhood. The taste of those products did not evaporate with time, but is actually as fresh and bright as it used to be back in the old days. Childhood memories are known to be the strongest and stay with us forever. In fact, our "gastronomical selves" come directly from a childhood kitchen, oftentimes defining our preferences in a restaurant without even knowing it. At the same time, my bakery is American because I bake with American flour and water, my starters are happily populated with American wild yeasts, and what is most important, my customers are fellow Americans.

Are your cakes and breads licensed?
Texas Cottage Food Law does not require a license if food is sold from one's own residence or at a farmers market. Health departments do not have regulatory authority to conduct inspections of a cottage food production operation.

What exactly are tea cakes?
Tea cakes are cakes that go very well with tea. My family loves tea, and by saying that I mean real hot black tea. Drinking tea becomes much more enjoyable when this ancient noble beverage is accompanied by food, be it a sandwich, a cookie, or a piece of cake. Everything is better with tea! Of course, tea cakes can be consumed with coffee, lemonade, milk, or any other drink of your choice, but we have been eating these cakes (and we eat them a lot!) mostly with tea, so tea cake seems to be a perfect name for them.

Your tea cakes remind me of fruitcakes and pound cakes. Are they the same?
There is a certain similarity between these three types of pastries, but the difference is much more pronounced. Fruitcake is made with candied fruit, nuts and spices, and is often soaked or brushed with spirits. It is a festive cake, served in celebration of weddings and Christmas. Pound cake received its name from its recipe - it is made with a pound of each of four ingredients (flour, butter, eggs and sugar). Technically, any cake made with an equal ratio of these products can be called a pound cake. It is also very uncommon to use any dried fruits in this cake. Tea cake, unlike fruitcake, is not festive, it can be eaten any day all year around, it does not have nuts or candied fruits, and it is never soaked in alcohol. It is also quite different from a pound cake: the ratio of ingredients is very far from being equal (there is much less butter and more flour in it) and its signature feature is dried fruit.

Rye is not very popular today, why do you offer several rye breads?
Production of rye in the United States has dropped down to 6 million bushels from over 30 million in 1941. Six million bushels is impressive, but when compared to over 250 million harvested in Europe alone, it becomes nearly nothing. Does it mean though that Americans do not like rye bread? Then why is it so expensive? Maybe it is just business, and it is simpy cheaper to grow corn, sell it and then buy foreign rye?
I see that many people love rye bread. And it doesn't surprise me at all, when I look at the history of American immigration. Today, many Americans are only a few generations apart from their European heritage, a huge part of which belongs to its northern and eastern regions where rye is the main crop for baking bread. And this heritage is at least fifteen centuries old! In terms of genetics it means that even after a couple centuries of eating wheat bread, many Americans are still digesting rye bread better than anything else. In other words, for many people rye bread is a more healthy choice.
Production is a complicated process, and it depends on many factors. It is similar to a gear box, which needs every gear to spin in order to work. When people need a certain type of bread, bakers are likely to bake, millers are likely to mill, and farmers are likely to farm. This is how a planted rye berry transforms into a delicious slice of bread. I am trying to make sure that my gear spins and makes the next part of the mechanism move.

Do you sell bread online?
No, bread has a short shelf-life, and it is always better to buy it fresh locally.

Many bakeries sell artisan bread for $8 and more. Why is your bread priced much lower? Where is the catch?
First of all, I strongly believe that a loaf of bread must be affordable for everybody. Personally, I would not buy a loaf for $8, so why should I expect my customers to be different? There must be a correlation between prices of bread and some of the most common goods - butter, meat, cheese, gas, you name it. I cannot make butter cheaper, but I can sell an artisan loaf for $4 to make things more fair in my eyes. By selling bread at these low prices I am still covering my expenses and making enough profit to support my family. And while $8 is doubtless better than $4, I respect the wisdom of an old Russian proverb: better is an enemy of good. Finally, there is indeed no catch: you are welcome to stop by and have free samples of our products.

Do you offer any gluten-free products?
No, all of my breads and cakes contain wheat and/or rye flour which has gluten in it (especially wheat flour). Unfortunately, I do not not know of any substitutes which can result in a comparable loaf, so I do not bake gluten-free products.

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