From left, Kirk Spangler, Dottie Graham and Dave Drury celebrate a perfect loaf of salt rising bread at the Angelica Bakery.
By JOHN ANDERSON
After a short hiatus, the Angelica Salt Rising Bread is back, and thanks to the past meeting the future, nothing has changed.
The Angelica Bakery equipment and recipes, and most important, name, were purchased from Dottie Graham by Kirk Spangler and David Drury.
For Spangler, an Angelica native, opening the bakery again was nostalgic.
“I did it originally to give something back to the community,” Spangler said. “When you got out of school and went down the street, you knew salt rising was cooking, you could smell it. My mom (Grace) and Dottie were close friends. Back then, the doughnuts and bear claws and glazed doughnuts were very popular. They just had a great bakery.”
The bakery is not a storefront and is wholesale only. The first step to becoming official was an article in the Angelica Booster News. After that, Drury and Spangler took the loaves to former and new clients who are featuring the Angelica Bakery bread on their menus. Right now, it is at Sprague’s Maple Farm in Portville, Texas Hot in Wellsville, Kopper Keg in Cuba and Ace’s Country Cupboard in Belfast.
The loaves could be available soon in supermarkets in Allegany County, Pennsylvania and Steuben County.
The baking is taking place in Belfast, which is another piece of history. Paul Jennings (a cousin to Dottie Graham who was a Jennings) owned the Belfast Bakery on Main Street across the street from Red & White.
In 1969, Paul was done with the bakery. He said if Duane Graham (Dottie’s late husband) helped him move the equipment to Angelica, the Graham family could have it. The Graham’s moved it to Angelica in 1969 until they stopped baking in 2020. Today, the equipment is back in Belfast.
This time, the equipment came with the most amazing owner’s manual and recipe book: Dottie Graham herself.
“Dottie came in, cooked it and it came out identical. She said, ‘If you guys do the bread like this, you will have no problems.’ It’s the same recipe for 50 years. We are doing the same process. The only change is, the scales are digital,” Drury said.
Under Dottie’s watchful eye, they made test batches of 180 loaves at a time. Just to make sure it was the best, they ordered salt-rising bread from every website on the East Coast and even visited a bakery in Pennsylvania.
“It’s a two-day process. A lot of things can affect the flavor,” said Drury. “For the most part, Dottie perfected the recipe and we’ve taken on what they did and it’s been relatively easy.
But there is a reason not everyone makes and sells salt-rising bread.
“The challenge is bringing consistency to the process,” Spangler explained. “There are so many factors from the temperature, to the humidity and even the temperature of the flour, it’s very finicky bread. You can tell when you are on the mark because of the smell.”
Spangler said during their travels to supermarkets and diners in Pennsylvania and out of the county, Angelica Bakery was a household name.
“The fun part is taking it places and people hear ‘Angelica Bakery’ and they smile,” Spangler said. “In one supermarket, the manager heard we had a loaf in the store and wanted to talk to us about Angelica. Their bakery workers were so excited to see it. It’s just amazing. “
“It’s crazy how popular Angelica Bakery was if you grew up in this area,” Drury said. “It brings a smile to their faces and brings back good memories of breakfast with your family.”
Angelica Bakery will have online ordering and shipping for Western New York natives who want the bread they remember.
“We hope to have more wholesale customers and get all the customers back Angelica Bakery served and add a few new ones,” Drury added.
Angelica Bakery employs five employees currently and the owners said that number could grow to 10.