Markus Lattner is in charge of ensuring manufacturing processes are efficient in a chemical free, sustainable produce farm in Pennsylvania. When he’s not working, Markus Lattner turns his search for high standards to seeking the perfect loaf of bread.
Markus Lattner’s love for bread goes back to childhood in Austria, where he would ride with his cousins to the nearest bakery early in the morning. There, they would pick up loaves of fresh baked bread, Markus Lattner remembers, breaking it open on the ride home when they could resist the temptation no longer.
Over the years, Markus Lattner has always sought out the same kind of bakery he cherished as a child. Markus Lattner has found it especially challenging in locations like South Africa, where some residents toss away the crust of white bread after it’s baked. This puzzled him, since the crust gives bread much of its texture and flavor.
Because of his difficulty in finding great bread, Markus Lattner made the choice to learn to bake delicious bread himself. At first, his attempts failed but over time he learned to make bread similar to the bread he grew up eating. Because good bread has to come from the heart and soul, Markus Lattner had to get to a place where his baking was coming from deep inside himself.
Markus Lattner points to a 19th-century Austrian custom along these lines. If a man wanted to ask for a woman’s hand in marriage, he says that man would bring bread to his potential bride. If he dropped them at her feet, said, “This is for the wedding,” and she replied with the word, “Agreed,” they were officially engaged, Markus Lattner relates.
Perhaps that is why Austria’s bakeries feature such delicious food today. Markus Lattner fondly recalls the experience of walking into bakeries in Austria as a young boy. Lattner says that it’s like nothing you can find in the States, although he acknowledges that a few artisan bakeries in America come close. Markus Lattner specifically names Philadelphia bakeries Metropolitan and Le Bus as having favorable creations, but these are still, to some degree, mass production bakeries. True culinary excellence comes from personalized attention to detail, Markus Lattner opines.
Markus Lattner recommends the book Bread by Jeffrey Hamelman, master baker at King Arthur Flour to anyone who wants to know how to bake tasty baked goods. However, Markus Lattner points to his mother as his best teacher, and he still incorporates the baking skills his mother taught him many years ago.