Excellent | Worth a Detour
Erick Schat’s Bakkery
Review by: Maggie Rosenberg & Trevor Hagstrom
Erick Schat’s is a century old bakery operated by a well-entrenched Dutch family. It’s a fairy tale place with great pastries and breads; and it is a requisite road stop for tourists to the Eastern Sierra. How popular is it? It bakes six times more loaves of bread every day than there are residents in the town of Bishop. That’s 25,000 loaves a day.
Erick Schat’s walks a line between artisan baking and mass production. The breads are very good and made without preservatives, but they are soft and amicable, rather than crusty and rustic. Many are baked in hearth ovens, but in large volume. In addition to the breads, there is a separate pastry bakery that makes every conceivable donut, danish, and cookie.
The most famous bread is the Sheepherder’s Loaf. This is a soft white bread that makes us think of artisan Wonder Bread. Its recipe is nearly 100 years old, and it is the gold standard of white bread. The on-site deli uses it for sandwiches.
Mule Bread is named for the town’s Mule Festival. (The area tends to be fixated on the long-eared beasts of burden.) Just as mules are a hybrid of donkeys and horses, the bread is a cross between Sheepherder’s Bread, sourdough, squaw bread, and whole wheat. It is a naturally leavened grain bread with a softness like white bread and a touch of honey. It makes beautiful toast.
For campers, we recommend Chili Cheez Bacon Bread, a puffy loaf layered with jalapeños, jack cheese, and smoky bacon. This is the kind of meal-in-a-loaf that you can’t stop pulling on. When you get to the center, the cheese and chilies are so concentrated it becomes calzone like. For those who prefer sweet breads, cinnamon raisin is loaded with plump raisins and cinnamon. We dream of the French Toast it could become.
Even sweeter is a Dutch crunch pullaway — sweet knots completely coated with walnuts, baking spices and sugar. It’s like a large ring of braided cinnamon roll middles — the kind of thing you want to share with a room full of friends over lots of coffee. Don’t order it if you don’t like nutmeg, with which it is aggressively seasoned.
The best bear claw we can remember is made here. It is well-glazed and generously filled with sweet almond paste and topped with perfectly toasted slivered almonds. Like the Dutch, we are almond lovers, so this really impresses us.
We felt obligated to try the donuts. The giant mule-shaped ones baked around the Mule Days Festival are just right: crisp on the outside, soft in the middle, and seasoned with a bit of mace in the dough to give them spicy character.
|Meals Served||Breakfast, Lunch|
|Credit Cards Accepted||Yes|