What is Hearth Bread?
Popularized in Old World Europe, hearth bread uses traditional baking methods to produce a delicious, yet unique loaf of bread each time. At Cellone’s, we make both hearth baked bread and pan baked bread. Gary Cellone, partner at Cellone’s Bakery, describes the difference as this: “authentic hearth baked bread is baked on the hearth of the oven with no pan, which gives it an irregular shape, while pan bread is made in a pan.” Since hearth bread is not baked in a pan, there is no cookie cutter process for how it’s made.
Hearth Bread in History
Circling back to its European roots, people once did the bulk of their cooking in front of the fireplace. Clay-covered hollows produced high temperatures which allowed for baking. The process was quite simple. The night before, women would mix together flour, yeast and water and let the dough rise over night. In the morning, the dough would be ready to shape into a loaf and bake in the hearth.
This method of baking bread remained a standard practice in Europe for many, many years. Hearth bread became popular in America in the 20th century, when European immigrants utilized the method and began selling the bread in bakeries throughout the country.
Hearth Bread Today
Today, it is uncommon for people to bake using their fireplace. Hearth bread in modern times is typically baked directly on a hot baking stone or a baking sheet in the oven. Here’s how we do it at Cellone’s Bakery:
Step 1: We start by mixing Cellone’s no-time dough from scratch.
Step 2: Next, we mold the dough into various sizes.
Step 3: Once the dough is stretched; we hand check the lengths to make sure they’re up to Cellone’s quality standards.
Step 4: We then place the dough onto peel boards with cornmeal on the bottom to prevent sticking.
Step 5: Proofing time! We leave the dough to sit for an hour.
Step 6: We load the dough onto the oven hearth and let it bake for 20 minutes.
Step 7: Once we take the bread out of the oven, we let it cool for one hour.
Step 8: Finally, the bread is sliced and packaged to feed our hungry customers.
Some of our favorite ways to enjoy hearth bread include dipped in soup, as a side for pasta (to soak up delicious sauce), used for sandwiches such as a grilled cheese and paninis, or simply on its own! Cellone’s bakes fresh Italian hearth bread each day. We also carry hearth dinner rolls. If we’ve made you hungry, visit your nearest grocery to pick some up for lunch or dinner. See our grocery store page for where to find our breads.