RANDOLPH - The Town of Randolph is all abuzz over the new ethnic bakery with the unusual name and the 41st annual Arts and Crafts Festival held today from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
As a little boy, Jack Fuller may have had aspirations of being a fireman or policeman when he was sitting in his grandmother's kitchen helping her bake breads and cakes, but her influence molded his future.
"I remember when we'd go to my grandmother's house, I would get on a stool and she would put a spoon in my hand. I think that's where the love of baking came from. Even before we were married 34 years ago, I was making bread."
Fuller's maternal grandparents came to America from Poland in 1913. His grandmother was a cook, and baker and his grandfather was a gardener at the Rockefeller mansion. After losing their jobs due to the Great Depression, they moved to Springville, where they purchased a farm. His grandmother raised chickens. She made pies on Saturdays and served chicken and biscuit dinners on the front lawn on Sundays to help pay for the farm.
After Fuller was laid-off from his job as a machinist with the railroad, he decided to become his own boss. Since he makes many of the same baked goods that he remembers his grandmother making, he named his bakery Dziadek's Pickarnia (Grandfather's Bakery). Babka (yeast bread), ciastki (an egg-based cookie, similar to a snickerdoodle), paska (a round coarse bread) and Polish braided egg bread, plazek (a dessert bread) and pierniki (Polish spice cookie) are just a few of his Polish baked goods. He hopes to add paczki (a sweet doughnut-like pastry) after his deep fryers are up and running.
Other items that are available are seeded and unseeded rye, honey wheat, white, Italian, Tuscan Italian and cinnamon rolls. Cherry, apple, peach, custard, cream and berry pies are also available. All specialty breads and pies must be ordered.
"We make a rustic country loaf that is an old-fashioned brown bread that is very flavorful," Fuller said. "We also make a Russian black bread."
A local brewer is supplying him with wort, which is skimmed off the top in the beer making process. This is used to make Swedish limpa bread, which the business owner welcomes Swedish people to critique.
He is hoping to purchase flour from the Busti Grist Mill.
"The business is in its infancy stage, and the plans for the future are to get large enough for wholesale and have delivery service. We've made plans with another business owner to purchase his wholesale baking equipment. By year's end we would like to be open for wholesale business," says Fuller. "We currently supply a variety of rolls to Randolph American Legion and Hide-A-Way Restaurant.
"You're never going to please everyone, but you try to please as many as you can."
On the morning I visited, the oven-baked doughnuts and salt-rising breads were flying out of the case. From the first week the bakery opened in late April, Fuller has had many out of town shoppers come in for items that are not available in other area bakeries. One customer said she heard the English muffin bread is fabulous.
"The biggest thing that return customers tell me is the difference in made fresh from scratch over frozen dough," Fuller said. "If any restaurants would like samples, I will run them out."
He credits a friend of the family with a special recipe that he has used for years.
"Back in 1991, June Cook and her husband, Herb, stopped at the house when I was making bread," he said. "She gave me her recipe for white bread, and I tried it and it was fantastic. I now use her recipe as my base recipe for white, wheat, rye and salt-rising bread minus the yeast, which I do not use in salt-rising bread. Our salt-rising bread is the best in the area."
He goes on to say that he and his wife are looking forward to the holidays when they will be making German stolen, Sally Lunn, baba au rum, Jewish challah bread, barm back, kolacky and kulich.
Fuller's wife Beth shows up at 3:30 every weekday and all day on Saturday and Sunday to help her husband in his new venture.
In the near future, they will be offering pierogis and beef, chicken and turkey family style pot pies made from scratch with celery seed pastry. Their daughter, Bridget Fuller Rankin, makes all of the cookies and cakes, which are available on Tuesdays or any day by special order.
"She is an awesome scratch baker," her father said. "My wife is more of a cook than a baker. In fact, she's a better cook than me, but when it came to baking my daughter always turned to me. Every time dad was baking, she'd slide a stool over and would want to bake."
The Fullers have three other children: Brandon, Rachel and Ashley Fuller White.
"I would like to thank Mary Joyce, who has been a wealth of information and is business savy," Fuller said. "I would like to also thank my sisters Candice and Barb and my brother Tom."
Today would be a perfect day to visit the bakery and take in the Randolph Arts and Craft Festival, which kicks off with the Mason's pancake breakfast from 7:30-10:30 a.m. in the fire hall. The library is having a book sale and the United Presbyterian Church is holding a lawn sale to benefit missions.
Activities are numerous, including a performance by Gail N. Chapman Elementary Band, a dog parade, Southern Tier Chord Authority performance and a beautiful baby contest, a performance by Downtown Country Cloggers and Gospel Magic by Andrew Whitcomb. Later in the day, AG Combat Sports and Expressions Performing Arts Center will put on demonstrations. Other fun activities and displays will be from the Historical Society, a quilt show in the Municipal Building and an art show in the high school library. Returning favorites are the raptor rehab and education, hay rides, a petting zoo, farm animals and displays from the Randolph Future Farmers of America and much more.
Dziadek's Pickarnia is located at 137 Main St., Randolph. Orders can be taken at 358-2253.