Do you love carbs? Maybe you should think about opening a bakery!
“I love bread,” Adrian Sulea said when asked why he got into the bakery business. That sounds like a good enough reason to me. Sulea has worked in bakeries since his teenage years in Boston and then later in Montreal, learning his craft through on-the-job training. His bakery, Universal Bread Bakers, is now a staple for many Waterville residents as the bakery survives off of regulars coming to buy Sulea’s authentic French loaves.
Situated just off Main Street and across from the Alfond Main Street Commons, Universal Bread Bakers is an unsuspecting gem. This small store is intimate and homey, fitting for a neighborhood bakery. There’s a small menu: a great first sign to indicate specialized expertise. The baguettes, batards, boules, rolls, and beautiful epi baguettes sit right behind the cashier. The racks of golden loaves immediately entice you and warmly welcome you in.
I listened to Sulea talk about the bakery’s bread while I munched on a warm roll. I could hear the passion in his voice, and I could taste the love in his bread.
Each loaf begins its baking process the day before it is served, requiring twenty-four hours of fermentation and preparation. What’s more, Sulea wakes up at 2 a.m. every day to ensure the bread will be hot and ready for the 10 a.m. opening. The items are all handmade yet impressively uniform. All this work is the reason why he “hasn’t had a bad loaf of bread in a long time.” Bad bread? Never heard of it.
But what constitutes a good loaf of bread? According to Sulea, it needs to have a great crust, be baked in a stone oven, have a long fermentation, and “open properly” from its slits, which indicates correct fermentation and a pleasing aesthetic. Check, check, check, and check. The perfectly round roll had a great balance between a crispy crust and a soft pillow-like inside. I can still hear the crunch as I tore a piece off. The center of the roll was light and airy, making it easy to finish without feeling weighed down. It had a robust flavor, not too sweet unlike much of the store-bought bread in America. After the interview, I enjoyed another roll, dipping it in olive oil. What more could a college girl ask for?
I will definitely return to buy more fresh loaves, and if you also enjoy life’s simple pleasures, I highly encourage you to take a visit to Universal Bread Bakers. Hopefully, in the near future, the College can collaborate with Universal Bread Bakers to give more students a taste and generate more business for the bakery.
~ Lillian Kistner `24
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