Horst Jahn spent most of his life in a land of rich, hardy breads made in family kitchens and at local bakeries.
But when love drew him from his native Germany to the United States in 2006, he wasn't much of a baker. That didn't come until he hit his 50s.
In his home of Lutherstadt Eisleben, Jahn was the manager of a foundry, where he helped work on mechanical problems. As a boy, he had watched his mother bake, and he learned a bit from his former wife, a good cook and baker. But he had no intention of making baking his profession.
Not until he tried American bread, anyhow.
Dissatisfied with the wimpy white slices popular in the States, Jahn bought a German baking book and went to work on his own concoctions. Slowly, he fine-tuned his recipes, settling on combinations of ingredients that pleased his palate.
For three months after moving to South Dakota in 2006, Jahn lived in Vermillion. Then, he and his wife, Teresa, moved to Canton, where he noticed the local bakery was for sale. He learned the bank owned the bakery, but balked at the high price. In 2008, though, he and the bank brokered a deal, and Jahn, now 58, had a base where he could work.
Railhaus Bakery, though, doesn't dish out pastries to patrons most mornings. It's open only Saturday mornings from 7 to 10. Instead, it's mostly where Jahn and his wife bake the goods they take to farmers' markets.
Once a month, he said, it hosts a German night, where he cooks foods from his homeland, everything from schnitzel to roasted pig to rabbit to German goulash.
Railhaus also does catering. On those nights, it offers one other unique item that can't be found at many bakeries — beer.
It's Jahn's baking, though, that has attracted attention and the reason he was asked this spring to attend the Thursday afternoon downtown farmers' market in Aberdeen.
The trip from Canton to Aberdeen is about 230 miles one way. When faced with that prospect, Jahn was apprehensive at first. You have to sell a lot of pastries and loaves of bread to make six hours of driving worthwhile. But when he decided to make a maiden voyage, it certainly wasn't the first adventure on which he had set out without knowing how it would end.
As it turns out, the trek has had a happy ending. Most weeks, Jahn sells out of everything — or almost everything — he brings to Aberdeen. So the next week, he loads the black Railhaus Bakery trailer with even more of his goodies.
Jahn hustles as he unloads the trailer, hauling baking baskets filled with various types of breads and large baking sheets topped with snacks such as pieces of kuchen, crowns, pretzels and pig ears. Pig ears, he said, are one of his best sellers.
What, exactly, is a pig ear? A flat pastry that looks like a piece of bread in the shape of a heart with icing on top. And Jahn is happy to share the recipe.
"Flour, butter, butter, butter and a little bit of sugar," he said.
Last week, Jahn even had a 6-foot-long apple strudel, which he needed help carrying from the trailer. Sliced into 80 pieces, each sold for $4.
The market opens at 3 p.m. Thursdays in Central Park, across the street to the north from the Civic Auditorium and Arena. Even before it does, shoppers surround Jahn's tables, eyeing potential purchases. When the clock strikes 3, the steady sales begin. Some volunteers from Aberdeen help him or he wouldn't be able to keep up.
Rob Vining, of Aberdeen, is a fan of Jahn's products, and makes the booth a priority when he gets to the market.
"I'm all about the baked goods when I see them at the farmers' market," Vining said.
He appreciates that Jahn's breads and snacks are fresh and are made with good ingredients. And he likes that some of Jahn's breads are coated in a layer of pumpkin seeds and other extra toppings.