Galveston’s Own Farmers Market offers a fresh selection of seasonal produce, but one of the longest lines forms every week for a product that is always in season.
Since September, baker Philip Gerding has been supplying patrons with homemade bread and cinnamon rolls fresh from the kitchen of his Craftsman-style home on the island’s East End.
“I’ve been baking bread for at least 25 years, and giving it away to friends and neighbors,” Gerding said.
“People kept telling me I should sell it, but that wasn’t feasible until the Texas Cottage Food Law was expanded.”
The Texas Cottage Food Law was passed in 2011, enabling home bakers to sell their cakes, cookies and other baked goods from their homes.
“It wasn’t until 2013 that the law was revised to allow home bakers to sell at a handful of other venues, including farmers markets.
“Once the new law was passed, I got in touch with the farmers market, and was ready to start selling there as soon as the law took effect in September,” Gerding said. “The first week, I didn’t know what to expect. We sold out by about 9:30 (in the morning).”
Now Gerding, who calls his business Galveston Bread, brings 70 to 80 loaves of bread each Sunday, along with cinnamon rolls that are still warm from the oven.
His Sunday selections include sourdough bread, both plain and with Italian spices, cinnamon rolls, whole wheat loaves and rye.
“The sourdough is the most popular,” Gerding said. “I use a sourdough starter from King Arthur Flour that’s 250 years old.”
He also uses organic flour in all his breads.
“When I read bread labels, it scares me when there’s too many ingredients. Mine is just flour, salt, water, yeast and sugar.”
Gerding and his wife, Helen, are nurses who spent years traveling for their careers. When he retired, Galveston beckoned to the Denton native and his wife, who is from South Philadelphia.
One of their first priorities in setting up their island home was to outfit the kitchen for serious cooking.
“I bought a used restaurant stove long before there was any thought of baking as a business,” Gerding said. “To me, it’s just been my home oven for a long time.”
For even baking, Gerding recommends a baking stone in the oven.
“Mine are just split pavers from (The) Home Depot,” he said. “We’ve used them for years, even when we were on the road in an RV.
“With most ovens, there’s a 20-degree span in temperature, and every time you open the oven door, it drops even more. The stones hold the heat and keep the temperature consistent.”
Consistency is the key to homemade bread, Gerding said.
“If you’re going to be serious about bread, you have to be willing to do it again and again to get a consistently good loaf,” he said.
“It takes years to develop the muscle feel so you know you’ve got it right, and you’ve got to be willing to throw out everything you just made if it isn’t right.”
Gerding occasionally tests out a new recipe at the farmers market, and sometimes has cookies for sale as well.
“His chocolate chip cookies are legendary,” Helen Gerding said.
New products might be added to the lineup, if customers have their say.
“Galveston has such a wide variety of backgrounds, and customers are always suggesting all kinds of things they miss,” he said.
Greeting customers and fellow vendors at the market has become one of the high points of Gerding’s week.
“After staying up late Saturday baking bread, and getting up early Sunday to bake the rolls, I can be a little grumpy on Sunday morning,” he said.
“But when I get to the market, it’s just the neatest people in the world, both the vendors and the customers.”
At a glance
WHAT: Galveston’s Own Farmers Market
WHEN: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sundays
WHERE: 2508 Postoffice St., in Galveston
Green Olive Tapenade
MAKES: 3⁄4 cup
1 cup green olives, pitted
5 anchovy fillets
3 tablespoons capers, drained
1 small garlic clove
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Place the olives, anchovies, capers, garlic and lemon juice in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until a coarse paste forms.
Store in an airtight container, refrigerated for up to 1 week.
(SOURCE: Recipe from “The Tenth Anniversary Cookbook,” by Martha Stewart)
L’Auberge Chez Francois Herbed Cottage Cheese Spread
MAKES: 2 2⁄3 cups
1 pound small-curd, cream-style cottage cheese, for best results, do not use low-fat
2⁄3 cup sour cream
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1⁄4 teaspoon pepper, freshly ground
1 teaspoon garlic, finely minced
1 tablespoon shallots, finely minced
1 tablespoon green onions OR chives, finely minced
1 tablespoon parsley plus more for garnish, finely minced
Combine the cottage cheese and sour cream in a medium bowl and blend well.
Add the remaining ingredients. Mix thoroughly and adjust seasonings. Cover and chill well before serving.
Serve with crusty bread or crackers and garnish with fresh parsley if desired.
(SOURCE: Recipe from “The Chez Francois Cookbook,” by Jacques Haeringer)
Breakfast Egg Spread
MAKES: 1 3⁄4 cups
6 Hard-boiled eggs, peeled
1⁄4 cup light mayonnaise OR unflavored Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons green onion, minced
1⁄4 teaspoon salt
1⁄4 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons fully-cooked bacon, chopped
Whole grain baguette slices OR bagels, toasted
Place the eggs, mayonnaise or yogurt, green onion, salt and pepper in food processor. Pulse until finely chopped. Spoon into a serving bowl. Top with bacon.
Serve on bread slices, plain or toasted.
(SOURCE: Recipe courtesy of the American Egg Board)