The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Hi From A New York Pro

nbicomputers's picture

Hi From A New York Pro

I found this board jusr searching around the net and have been postion for a few weeks now.

So i thought i would take a minute to indrouce my self.

I am 50+ years old and started my baking history at the ripe old age of 17 As a bread baker in the bronx. A bakery a few stores away from krum's candy story on fordham road accross the street from the paradise movie house.

from there i worked and managed another famous bronx bakery Webers german bakery and its sister store YONKERS PASTRY.

next i moved into the city and worked aws a production manager and coo for comerical produstion bakeries that sold to resturants and hotel's

my last few places was about 5 years at enrico's pastry a famous  itialian bakery in the moris park ave and  a short time position at the greystone bakery a factory that is responcible for the produstion of browney pieces for ben and jerry's fudg brownwy ice cream and did some prvite lable baking  jush as the deserts (sweet potato pie and pecan pie) that was sold by KFC.

due to an illness i was nuable to be on my feet the amount of hours required by these positions so i retired reluctantly.

I finished my engneering degree and started a computer consulting company NBI Computer Services Inc on the web at and started consulting for bakery computer systems and branched out to other types as hotels and other food services business.

My heart is broken due to the fact that none of the younger generation want to learn my trade and continue the work as bakeris they all want thouse easy sit down behind the desk jobs.

i can somewhat understand that since my early days were spent moving 100 pounds of flour and baking hundreds of lofes a night not to metion cakes and pastries.  but the skillings i have learned over the years are being lost because of that.

when i made jewish rye every night i never scaled all i needed to know was how meny quarts of water and mixed the dough that was needed. mesuring the sour starter by the shovel full and adding more flour and water to the starter by the bucket to have enough for the next nights douge. we had starter that was alive and going over 20 years old and that was started by bring some starter over from another bakery whos starter was older than that.

well so much for me and my history i will do my best to contribute to this board and everyone is wellcole to email me and or skype me . I do not want my skills to die so i will answer all questions with great joy.

if you wish feel free to get my contact information off my web site and i will be hoping to here from you all.

Norm an old jewish Baker

ehanner's picture

Hello Norm,
I have been watching your posts for a while with interest. Thank you for taking the time to pass your experience along to others who want to learn. Your story is interesting to me since we both left our profession after many years and went into the computer business due to medical conditions. There are quite a few IT types here for some reason including the fellow who owns the site. Baking and microchips, who would of thought!!

For me baking is a recent interest. I have never spent any real time in the food industry but have learned to be a pretty good cook, avoiding baking all together. Then one day I set out to learn the skills to make a good French baguette and rye bread and along the way sourdough. I have been here just over a year and I'm making progress. My extended family is all Jewish and they swear by my breads as the best in Milwaukee. Maybe that's because all the old bakery's are closing Lol!

Anyway, I hope to see your posts, maybe you could show us some of your breads from home now that you are baking  on a small scale. Nice to meet you.


hullaf's picture

Like you my first job required lifting and being on the feet for a long time (nursing) and I lament that younger people are reluctant to go into these kind of jobs. But surely new engineering and scientific concepts will make jobs more ergonomic and user-friendly. But, for baking bread, you will help here by encouragement and ideas . . . glad you're on board!   Anet

Susan's picture

I, too, have followed your posts and have thoroughly enjoyed them, so thanks for telling us more about yourself.  

 Susan from San Diego

Floydm's picture

Hi Norm,

Yeah, I've been enjoying your posts too. I've been enjoying hearing about how a pro does things and then thinking about which techniques are easy to adapt for home use and which don't scale down so well.

Welcome to the site!

nbicomputers's picture

every thing can scale down

the problem is getting ing that are only available to the pro such as instant clear gel or reg clear gel and hi ratio shortening

there are many other commenly used items that a pro can get but the home suppermarket buyer ether cannot or would have to pay 20 $ a pound.

cake yeast is an example of this.   A two pound block of cake yeast cost a pro about 1.50 in the suppermarket 2 oz is about 1.00

scaling down the forumala is easy and the method just as eazy

but you have to how to make a big mix before you can make a small one

case in point see the kiser roll post with my formula that started with 70 lb of hi gluten And as for shapeing them I can shape (or form as we call it) a kiser roll in less than 5 seconds a nessery skill when making 720 of them. So when making them at home i take 10 or 15 seconds and if feel like i'm doing it in slow motion.

Pro Baker for over 25 years-----Ret

Floydm's picture

Everything can scale down, but personally I don't believe everything should. At least not all the time.

I know when I'm baking at home I am not trying to be a mini-professional. I want to use the techniques and ingredients that are readily available to me and that easily adapt to my equipment and my schedule. When mimicking a professional technique isn't a big deal and improves the result (a little steam in the oven), then great, but when it is a huge pain (lye bath for pretzels comes to mind) or it requires purchasing extra gear or difficult to find ingredients, then most of the time I'm just not interested. "Close enough" might not be good enough to run an award-winning bakery or bagel shop, but it is plenty good to satisfy my friends and family. I think this mentality is shared by a lot of the folks here as well, which is why Peter Reinhart is so admired: he does the best job of anyone in making complex recipes accessible to the average baker. His recipes often are not completely authentic, but the results are reasonable facsimiles of traditional recipes.

So, again, I'm honored to have your professional voice added to the community here; there is a great deal we can learn from you. But I ask in return that you understand that we aren't all aspiring pros. Please be respectful to those of us who aren't always making things the "right" way.

nbicomputers's picture

what i want to do is give the profesional way to do things to inform not to impose kind of like looking from the other side of the glass so to speak.  many people never know what it is like on the other side of the kitcken

i want to shair through formulas and stories what it was like for me

Just because i am a pro true to the ways of a pro does not mean it is right for everybody. If i can teach great if you learn something from me that helps you, better. if i can help you locate a hard to find ing, i will

the bottom line is --the best way to do things is the way you like to do them.

as for the lye bath the one question comes to mind---Is it worth it and do i want to do it. If the results are worth it--DO IT at least once---thats mejust to say I DID IT if you don't want to  then DON'T who know's there just might be an easer way and you might be the next famous amos if you find it. 

i spent many a hour doing R and D for new products "NO lye YOU CAN"T DO THAT" is what i would hear from the old german bakers.  I say "if you got a better way, a safer way a way that tastes as good or better GO FOR IT.

but more important make what makes you happy and enjoy

i am not here to hurt fealings  just help

Pro Baker for over 25 years-----Ret

Floydm's picture

but more important make what makes you happy and enjoy

Nods, that is where I'm at too.

dmsnyder's picture

Thanks for introducing yourself. You've already contributed a lot. I'm looking forward to reading more of your posts and learning from them. 

For example, why can't I get a crackly crust on my sour rye breads? I'm using Greenstein's formula, usually with the corn starch glaze he recommends. My crust is tasty, but chewy, not crackely, at least once the loaves are fully cooled. So, what am I doing wrong? 


nbicomputers's picture

could you start a new thread and post the formula 

Pro Baker for over 25 years-----Ret

dmsnyder's picture

Sure thing. Looking forward to your help. 



graz's picture

As others have already said I've enjoyed reading your comments and stories of your experiences. I hope to learn from them as I learned my trade from someone who told me "I've taught you everything you know, not everything I know." Looking foward for more of your expertise.

Elagins's picture

Like you, I'm old-generation -- born 63 years ago in Brooklyn, where we had our own wonderful bakeries -- Ebinger's, Sutter's, and the incredible Manhattan bakers -- Royal on W 72nd St and my personal paradise, Louis Lichtman.

I started baking in my early 20s and stopped for 35 years, only picking it up again 3-4 years ago. A lot of what I do is try to re-create the breads of my childhood -- NY style water bagels (and yes, I use food-grade lye that I buy at the local Asian supermarkets), I make killer bialys, 50-60% rye bread with "altes", and challah that's better than anything you can get commercially in Southern California.

I grew up at a time and in a place where Sunday mornings were special -- fresh rolls and rye bread at the bakery, cream cheese from wooden boxes and lox carved off the skin, fried schmaltz herring and onions, borscht and baked potato.

Those Eisenhower days are gone, but I can bring them back by baking the breads I remember. Thank you for sharing.

nbicomputers's picture

when i was a kid my farther would go out early sunday morning.  he would come back with his arms full,

the sunday papers. fresh hot rolls and bagels,  maybe some lox,  and if we were real good a big piece of seven layer cake or checkerboard cake

the rest of the day was spent reading the paper (comics for me) and eating these wonderfull treats.

i did not know then that i would be the one baking these for other families.  I  think about thouse days a lot and i wonder how many times that scean was played in peoples homes who i never met but with my breads and cakes touched their lives alough it was such a small...small way.

maybe there is someone like us talking about how their farther went out on sunday morning .  as the years keep moving i realize that nothing will ever taste that good or quite the same ever again.

thanks for the memories.

 Pro Baker for over 25 years-----Ret