A new bakery specializes in bringing a bit of the Old Country to the heartland.
As feet shuffle and slide on flour-covered floors, bakers at WheatFields are busy baking 400 loaves of tasty European-style breads every week.
WheatFields, a new bakery and cafe at 904 Vt., offers European influences and Kansas ingredients. The bakers also offer French pastries and other desserts.
``It's basically a little cafe offering soups, salads and great pastries as well as great bread," says Charlie Rascol, manager of WheatFields.
The idea for WheatFields began in March 1994 when Chuck Magerl, proprietor of Free State Brewing Co., chef Charlie Rascol and baker Tom Leonard decided the best thing for the town would be to open a bakery. Each of these men combined their interests and began to write a business plan for WheatFields, which opened in December.
While remodeling the existing building, the owners of WheatFields installed a 23-metric ton bread oven imported from Barcelona, Spain. During this process WheatFields' owners brought over Manuel De La Rosa from Barcelona to correctly install the oven.
Tom Leonard said he and his partners went to the trouble to import an authentic European bread oven ``because it makes great bread.''
The oven is fueled by firewood and is mounted on a large circular cement slab, which is entirely encased in brick. Temperatures in the oven range from 350 degrees to well above 400 degrees.
When removing the bread from the oven, the bakers use long planks with flattened ends that scoop up each loaf.
The secret behind WheatFields' crusty, rustic bread is not only the oven but also the breads' ingredients. WheatFields uses an all-natural sourdough produced entirely from Kansas ingredients. WheatFields also uses locally raised organic products, such as meats and vegetables.
WheatFields offers 10 different breads, including a daily special. The bakery also provides bread to local restaurants, such as Free State Brewing Co., Teller's and Molly McGee's.
All unsold bread at WheatFields is donated to a local senior citizen group as well as to charities.
WheatFields' owners are also in the midst of starting a wholesale business, which will allow their bread to become more readily available to the public. This would mean trying to distribute their breads to supermarkets and other local businesses. They also hope to reach clients in Topeka as well as Kansas City through their wholesale.