Farm to Hearth, Haddam

Farm to Hearth, Haddam (Nick Caito / Hartford Courant / February 5, 2014)

Todd Solek wakes up around 6 a.m. to chop firewood for his custom brick oven, where it will burn all day. Around 7 a.m., when other bakeries have sold half their stock, he begins mixing doughs by hand.

Todd and his wife, Melissa, lovingly refer to this as “the most inefficient way of baking bread.” It's sort of a joke, but sort of not. It's just how Todd Solek does it at Haddam's Farm to Hearth bakery: organic, small batch, by hand. Old school.

“I just believe it gives that bread soul,” he says. “There's just something about the process that gets me excited to get up and do it every day.”

In four years, even through last February's blizzard, Solek has never missed a day of baking.

“It's actually kind of comical, we never had a sign,” Melissa Solek says of how they got started. She also makes the crisps, jellies and pickles sold in their East Haddam store. “I just put 'Fresh bread 4 p.m.' with an arrow pointing up to the store, and people started coming.”

Around 3:30 p.m., when the average baker may be settling in to sleep, Todd Solek loads the bread. He'll bake 150 loaves in roughly three hours, before prepping dough for the next day.

The hours are both a lifestyle and business choice. They give the Soleks time with their children, and customers can get the freshest artisan bread possible for dinner. Literally right out of the oven.

Farm To Hearth bakes Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday from 4 to 7 p.m. For a full bake schedule and where to find their fresh and delicious breads, visit www.farmtohearth.com.