The following article appeared in the July 10th edition of the Great North Woods Journal, and was written by Andrea Craxton.
Three years ago Magdalena Randall baked 18 loaves of naturally leavened bread, took them to the Lancaster Farmers’ Market, offered samples, talked with shoppers about her baking technique, and sold out. This was the beginning of the Polish Princess Bakery.
Magda met her husband Herb in Poland, and moved to America, which she’d long regarded “a country of possibilities.” While living in St. Johnsbury, she met women from Poland who’ve become her dear friends. They encouraged her to visit Lancaster, with its lovely houses, mountains, valleys, and established Farmers’ Market where she could shop for fresh food. Her little family settled into their home on Elm Street in June, 2006. On July 4, 2008, she became an American citizen. “It’s my country now. I wanted full rights of citizenship, participating in voting and decision-making. I love being here.”
In Poland bread is a staple, made from the rye that grows best in that humid, cool climate. Magda loves the bold, full flavor and aroma of rye that lingers. It’s unlike wheat bread, and quite different from rye breads that Americans are accustomed to eating. So after moving to Lancaster, Magda wanted to bake bread for her family. She tried using commercial yeast, but the flavor fell short. She went to sourdough recipes, and many attempts became “bricks on the compost pile.” She invest- ed in eight authoritative bread- making books that shared the stories, techniques, and science of this craft, written by bakers who know what they’re doing. She worked at it.
Two years later, she began formal training with Jeff Hamelman at King Arthur’s in Norwich, Vt. There she met oth- er enthusiastic bakers from all over the country, who shared one goal: to make a great loaf of bread. Magda has completed both the basic and advanced courses, and she has met her goal.
Magda says, “Bread is one of the three great fermented foods of western culture, along with wine and cheese. Wouldn’t you want to enter a bakery and have a choice of several kinds of rolls and more than ten kinds of breads of different colors, shapes, aromas and flavors? That is what I offer. I bake naturally leavened wheats, earthy ryes, and delicate baguettes. I use freshly ground flours milled locally from organic grains; natural, never-bleached, never-bromated flours from King Arthur; and specialty flours such as spelt and buckwheat. In my repertoire you’ll see breads of Italian, French, German, and Polish origin. I have pure breads (just flour, water, salt, and yeast), and breads that incorporate many other foods — cheese, meat, herbs, fruits, and vegetables.”
Breads from the Polish Princess appear regularly at the Lancaster Farmers Market on Saturdays and the Berlin Farmers’ Market on Thursdays. Local CSA members find Magda’s loaves in their baskets. During winter months, Magda takes weekly orders, which patrons pick up at her home.
Magda offers breakfast and snack foods at Markets — sausage and cheese savory rolls, and pizza featuring local ingredients. Try the sticky buns. You’ll return.