Baking Class: The bread winners

Saidel’s Bakery is an authentic, healthy, Jewish bakery that makes loaves the old-fashioned way.

Saidel’s Bakery (photo credit: Courtesy)
Saidel’s Bakery
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Even if one journeys to the pastoral environs of Karnei Shomron, surrounded by olive groves stretching as far as the eye can see, it is not a simple task to find Saidel’s Bakery. A humble sign at the front of the family home is the sole hint of the hidden pearl sequestered around back.
Stepping into the tiny boulangerie is like traveling back 300 years. Those who have visited the Provence region will immediately discern the similarity to French bakeries of old: brick walls lined with natural wood shelving, and the centerpiece – a huge antique brick oven spewing fire.
Saidel’s Bakery is making a name for itself on the local baking scene, recently voted the eighth-best bakery in Israel, according to a survey by the Makor Rishon newspaper.
South African-born master baker Les Saidel explains the phenomenon. “Our clientele began with Anglo Saxon, European and Russian olim who were raised on more substantial bread than the feather-light Israeli fare. Our baking resembles the bread of their youth, and now even the Israelis are beginning to develop a taste for it,” he says.
Saidel gained his first culinary experience from his mother, Phyllis, a caterer back in the old country. His love for baking bread came from an unexpected source.
“At age 13, we had a Gemara teacher, Rabbi Shlomo Warshawsky, who was also a health nut. Instead of teaching us tractate Brachot one day, he brought his baking utensils to class and taught us to bake whole-grain bread. I was hooked and have been baking ever since,” Saidel recounts.
Saidel’s Bakery concentrates on authentic Jewish breads (bialys, bagels and Jewish rye, among others) and health breads made from whole grains and natural sourdough yeast.
Their ingredients are basic – flour, water, natural yeast and salt. They use no preservatives, enhancers or chemicals, and they even grind their own whole-grain flour.
Not content to imitate the bread of others, Saidel invented Rambam Bread, a health loaf based on the medical writings of the renowned scholar and physician Maimonides.
Saidel’s Bakery supplies bread to most of the country.
“Every Friday, we deliver to Ra’anana, Netanya, Jerusalem, Beit Shemesh, Modi’in and Efrat,” he says. “People love Saidel’s because we are like their own private baker. Our products have an unbeatable homemade quality and are baked with love.”
Healthy Spelt Cookies
✔ 2 cups whole spelt flour
✔ 1 cup whole rye flour
✔ 6 eggs
✔ 6 Tbsp. olive oil
✔ 2 tsp. baking powder
✔ 2 tsp. salt
✔ 1 Tbsp. honey
✔ 4 Tbsp. sesame seeds
Mix ingredients by hand until a ball is formed. Break into small balls, the size of a small coin, and lay on a tray. Slightly flatten balls with thumb. Baste with egg white/ water mixture (50:50). Sprinkle lightly with salt. Bake for 30 minutes at 170°.
Country Olive Fougasse
✔ ½ cup whole-wheat flour
✔ ½ cup water
✔ ½ of ⅛ tsp. yeast
Mix all ingredients until well incorporated.
Leave to rise for 12 hours.
✔ 1¼ cup whole-wheat flour
✔ 1¼ cup white flour
✔ 1½ tsp. salt
✔ ⅛ tsp. yeast
✔ 1 Tbsp. olive oil
✔ ½ cup green olive rings, diced
Mix dry ingredients in a bowl. Add water, oil and sponge. Mix until all ingredients are incorporated. Knead for 10 minutes until dough is smooth. Mix in the olives until incorporated. Leave to rise 1 hr. Deflate and roll out dough into a flat triangle shape (on baking tray) and slit as follows with a sharp knife: Widen slits until open. Leave to rise 1½ hours. Bake at 230° for 35 minutes. 
Saidel’s Bakery, (09) 794-1222.