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The Warsaw Voice » Special Sections » March 3, 2014
Regional and Traditional Products
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Chleb Prądnicki/Bread from Prądnik
March 3, 2014   
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Chleb prądnicki, a product with a protected geographical indication in the European Union, is a traditional rye bread made with mature rye starter.

The bread is baked with rye flour and added wheat flour, boiled potatoes, rye bran and fresh yeast. A special quality that sets it apart from other kinds of bread is its size. Bread from Prądnik comes in the form of round or oval loaves weighing 4.5 kg. For special occasions, loaves as big as 14 kg are sometimes baked.

Regardless of its size, the bread always has a thick, crunchy crust sprinkled with rye bran. The bread becomes the most flavorsome and aromatic in the second 24 hours after baking. It also keeps fresh for a long time—even up to a few weeks. Some gourmets say this bread gets better as it ages.

Chleb prądnicki is made in Cracow. The name comes from the villages of Prądnik Biały and Prądnik Czerwony, both lying on the Prądnik River. Today they are both within Cracow’s administrative boundaries.

The Prądnik bread-baking tradition dates back to the 15th century when Bishop Wojciech Jastrzębiec granted some land in Prądnik Biały to his cook in 1421, at the same time obligating him to deliver bread to the bishop’s table. According to one legend, the first loaf baked after the harvest was taken to the king in Cracow’s Wawel castle.

In 1496, King Jan Olbracht granted special privileges to bakers, including those from Prądnik, giving them the right to sell bread in Cracow at the market once a week on Tuesdays. Bakers living outside Cracow were restricted in how much bread they could sell and make, only receiving full trading rights in 1785. Only bakers together with butchers and shoemakers were mentioned in Cracow’s foundation charter of 1257 issued by Prince Bolesław the Shy. The king allowed people from these trades (not tradesmen yet, as guilds came into being some years later) to build stalls in Cracow’s main marketplace, where they could sell their goods.

Bread from Prądnik was popular right until the early 20th century. After World War II it almost stopped being baked and sold. In those days, it was only available at the market in Cracow’s Kleparz district. Baking resumed after 1989. The unique recipe was reconstructed on the basis of references in literature, information from the Bread Museum in Radzionków (Upper Silesia) and interviews with residents of Prądnik, today a district of Cracow. Thanks to this information and the expert skills of Cracow bakers as well as quality flour from the Małopolska region, bread with a unique flavor was obtained.

Chleb prądnicki has won many prizes. In 2004 it received a special mention in the Małopolska Flavor competition, a year later its producer was nominated by the Małopolska Province Chairman for the Polish Food Producer 2005 title. As of March 2011 bread from Prądnik is registered on the Protected Geographical Indication list. The PGI symbol may only be placed on bread baked within Cracow’s administrative boundaries.
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