The Bakers' Window, a.k.a. "The Bakers' Window at The Fountain," opened quietly in the storefront at 122 State St. at Thanksgiving. "This is our soft opening," says head baker Karin Huelsman, who operates the bakery with her husband, artisan breadmaker Brian Allen Martinez.
The couple moved to Madison from San Francisco in July. In San Francisco, Huelsman had gigs baking at the highly regarded Tartine Bakery and the Mission Beach Cafe. Martinez was working at a law firm and learning bread baking as a hobby. While in San Francisco, the two did do some selling of their baked goods at farmers' markets.
After a honeymoon trip to France, where Martinez honed his bread skills baking with French relatives, they came back to the States looking "for a place where we could do that kind of baking, source materials from local farms." And Madison struck them as "the next Paris," says Huelsman.
The baking they do is all by hand: "What we're doing is very small-batch. We use no machines. No dough separator." They brought their 10-year-old sourdough starter with them from San Francisco. "It has a different character and background" from other Madison area sourdoughs, she says.
Bakers' Window loaves are "very rustic, emulating the [French] country style." Martinez hand-scores each loaf. Huelsman is also baking croissants, Door County cherry scones, quiches, and double-crust pies. The specialty is adapted from her grandmother's recipe and called, in her honor, Grandma Betty's Apple Pie. The crust is somewhat of a hybrid between French pastry and traditional pie crust.
The Bakers' Window sells pie by the slice or you can pre-order a whole pie.
They are supplying the hamburger buns and rye bread for The Fountain restaurant next door, as well as the apple pie. Charley's Chocolates, the business that formerly occupied 122 State, is still around, as well -- its truffles and pots de creme will still be on hand, and Huelsman expects the line of sweets to expand. Local honey and maple syrup are also on sale in the shop. Huelsman calls The Bakers' Window a "collaborative effort" with building owner Harold Langhammer, who was also co-owner of Charley's.
The grand opening of the Bakers' Window will be Sunday, February 12. But until then, the bakery is open Tuesday-Friday from 8 a.m.-5 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m.-5 p.m., although bread is baked only Wednesday-Sunday. The shop is, however, also open on Mondays to sell chocolates and other items.