Home Food + DrinkCoffee A Look Inside the Old German Bakery in Hoboken

A Look Inside the Old German Bakery in Hoboken

by Yiwei Gu
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Believe it or not, bread consumption is slowly declining {even if it doesn’t seem that way in Hudson County restaurants, no judgment because #carbs}. Studies show that Americans have been “cutting out carbs” from their diet. But in Hudson County, there are longstanding businesses that are devoted to the consumption of all the carbs, and in our eyes, it’s always a blessing to find a good loaf made by a local resident or business owner. Haytad Urachyan, who has been running Hoboken’s Old German Bakery {332 Washington Street, Hoboken}, for 10 years, is one of them. Here’s more about Old German Bakery, a long-standing Washington Street staple that serves bread seven days per week to the Mile Square.

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{Photo credit: @oldgermanbakery}

Inside the Old German Bakery

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For Haytad, to enjoy bread and enjoy it properly, is a serious matter. Walk into the small store{when we can visit again} that smells of butter and caramel, and you’ll find Haytad is forever busy wrapping bread, making coffees, or talking to customers. He is more than willing to explain the differences between various kinds of German bread, many of which are unfamiliar to American eaters, and is eager to give advice on “treating the bread properly.” Yes, you can slice your bread and freeze it for weeks. But no, it’s a bad idea to machine slice this particular crusty bread. It will fall apart.

When asked the infamous question, “How am I supposed to preserve [the bread] if I don’t finish it today,” Haytad lifts up the heavy loaf to feel its temperature. “It’s still warm. Wait until it cools down to room temperature. Slice off what you need. The rest, leave them in a sealed plastic bag [or breadbox/cloth bread bag]. It should keep for two or three days.” {Just a note: Yes, you can slice your bread and freeze it for weeks. But no, it’s a bad idea to machine slice this particular crusty bread. It will fall apart.}

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Chances are most customers have no self-control {like us!} and can’t wait until the bread completely cools down, which, surprisingly, may take a good three hours. But either way, the bread here is made fresh and it is seriously delicious.

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Haytad’s History

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Haytad shares the traditional German love of bread, having come to America 20 years ago from Cologne, Germany, and found there was “no good, authentic German bread” that he used to bake and eat at home. Taking matters into his own hands, he renovated a dilapidated storefront on Washington Street and started the Old German Bakery. To get all the details from production to service right, he imported everything from Germany, including the baking and coffee-making equipment, as well as the display cases and porcelain. The secret to good bread, however, lies in the basic ingredients. To this day, all the flour he uses for baking is still shipped from Germany, and the fastidious attention to quality gives him confidence in his own process.

And local bread eaters recognize it. “Ninety percent of [our] customers are returning customers,” he told us. “They like what we have, so they keep coming back,” Haytad told Hoboken Girl.

One HG recommendation HG recommendations at the Old German Bakery includes the Crusty Bread. Literally called the“Crusty Bread” on the menu, this dark-colored bread is dense, gritty, almost nutty to the taste. The dough has a strong but pleasant tanginess, with a subtle caramel aftertaste. 

Making the Bread

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As far as process, the Old German Bakery uses specific ingredients and a fermentation process specific to German bread; the flour has a high proportion of rye, and the dough goes through a slow leavening process. This renders certain loaves their dark color, dense texture, and rich taste. For an even more intense and unique flavor, try the pumpernickel, the iconic German dark bread made completely of coarsely-ground whole grain rye. Unlike the soft pumpernickel slices mass-produced in North American factories, this one is the real, hefty deal. The crust is solid, nutty, extra crunchy, and the flavor is intense and complex, a heady combination of tanginess and maltiness.

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The whole grain bread is packed with protein, resistant starch, and fiber, all good stuff for the body. In fact, the German word for dinner, abendbrot, means “evening bread.”Morning bread, afternoon bread, brunch bread, dinner bread — doesn’t matter when we’ll take it.

See More: Dom’s Bakery: Serving Bread to Hoboken for Over 39 Years

Now, the bakery has never been keen on marketing or big promotions. In fact, compared to many other businesses these days, its digital presence is barely there — including its online menu. But the word has spread over the last decade, and people keep coming back to this Washington Street spot. Haytad has regular customers from Manhattan, Brooklyn, and even Pennsylvania, who, despite the distance, come to the store every few weeks and stock up on carbs. Occasionally, orders even come from as far as California and Vermont, and fresh loaves are shipped the day the customers make the call.

Beyond Bread

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{Photo credit: @oldgermanbakery}

And bread is not the only thing Old German Bakery is skilled at making. In the mornings, the display case houses chocolate croissants, beautifully layered strudels, and puffy beliners {similar to doughnuts}, while afternoons are for cakes, of course.

Around the Jewish holiday Purim, there are also hamantaschen, triangle-shaped cookie pockets, filled with nutty poppy seeds, tart apricot confit, or Nutella. This is one of Haytads’ new products, requested by his Jewish customers. To get the taste just right, Haytad experimented with the recipe for some time and launched it only after hamantaschen fans tried it and approved the taste. 

Accommodating COVID-19

During the COVID-19 lockdown, the bakery has been constantly adjusting its business strategy. It significantly increased its social media presence on Instagram, updated its website, and also set up a contactless pickup and delivery system, first by phone {201-683-8644} and later through its website and ChowNow app {gift card also available}. Since the fresh bread takes hours to ferment and bake, the orders need to be placed the day before for next-day curbside pickup and delivery. Additionally, Haytad and his team have also been delivering pastry bags to the Hoboken Medical Center, to show support for front line workers. Like many other local small businesses, the Old German Bakery has been resilient and nimble, providing our community with warmth, solidarity, and delicious bread.

Have you ordered from the Old German Bakery yet? Let us know in the comments!

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Did you know: We started a podcast about all things news and lifestyle in Hoboken + Jersey City! Listen to the latest episode of Tea on the Hudson here and subscribe.


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