Making a Sharp Turn After Thanksgiving

One of the most difficult parts about running a very small retail bakery is figuring out how to quickly transition from one season or holiday to another. Most of the year this transition occurs gradually, mainly because seasons don't turn on a dime and the major holidays are pretty widely spaced out. Except for the Thanksgiving to Christmas turn-around. It just doesn't happen quickly or smoothly for us. It never has, and it probably never will. Once Thanksgiving production is under our belt, we're pretty much physically exhausted. And usually our product inventories are decimated as well. And since we don't enjoy that long Thanksgiving holiday weekend like normal folks, we're back at our bench and behind the counter on Black Friday morning. Somehow we're suppose to flip a switch and transform the bakery into a Christmas wonderland in a single day. Like I said, it has never happened and probably never will.

But over the coarse of the past week we have been working hard to put our elf hats on straight and fill our shop with some very wonderful and, for many customers, much anticipated holiday season specialties. In the coming days I'll post regularly, featuring the unique products that have made Bakery Normand the destination bakery for the best Old World Christmas treats in the Valley.

Back in November, I posted a piece about Lebkuchen called "Lebkuchen is Coming." The story begins there because the gingerbread dough, known in Germany as Lebkuchen, must be made a good month ahead of the final production in order for the dough to develop its unique flavor and character.

This week some of that dough was transformed into the charming Lebkuchen ornaments that our shop has featured for the past 31 years. Literally, Lebkuchen translates as the 'cake of life.' Since ancient times people have baked honey sweetened cakes in the shape of animals and people. At important holidays, these cakes were offered to the gods to assure prosperity, health and peace, and to dispel bad things. Perhaps these cakes replaced real human and animal sacrifices to the gods, in the sense that the spirit of the person or animal was transferred to the spice cake. Eventually, people exchanged these cakes with each other as gestures of good will. Our Lebkuchen is made with the kinds of ingredients our ancestors would have used: wheat and rye flours, honey, brown sugar and rare spices.

Our Lebkuchen Ornaments sparkle with a varnish-like glaze, which is, in fact, a natural and edible product. It's also a secret!

Our ornaments will keep for years if left out in the open air. We personally have kept some lebkuchen ornaments since the early 1980's. We store them in tins along with our other holiday ornaments; and as long as the mice don't get at them (because they are, after all, very nutritiuos treats) we are able to re-use them year after year. The key is to store them cool and dry, mostly dry. Lebkuchen ornaments are, however, completely edible. Simply wrap them in a damp towel, place them in a plastic bag, and let them sit overnight. The next day, your Lebkuchen will be tranformed into a soft cake that may then be eaten. You probably won't want to re-constitute old ornaments which have been saved from previous years, but this year's fresh Lebkuchen will be just fine.

Quantities of our ornaments are limited, so come in early while the selection is good.

We also make two types of Old World Saint Nicholas Lebkuchen Ornaments for Saint Nicholas Day, December 6th,

We also have a great selection of Advent Calendars, including Chocolate Advent Calendars. Shop early for these because they sell out early every year.

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Bakery Normand
192 Main Street
Northampton, MA 01060

Tuesday to Saturday, 7:30am-5:30pm

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