We have been planning to visit Rano for a long time, finally here we are on one autumn Saturday around noon. Massive display windows, ancient wooden doors, vintage tiles on the floor. Inside massive machines and tabletop where the bread is formed – the entire workspace of a baker is there for you to see. And this amazing smell! We arrive just in time for the last loafs of the day. On the counter, there is a variety of sweets: scones and bostocks. We snatch them quickly because new customers and neighbours have just entered. They greet warmly Ania, Weronika and Mateusz – the owners of the Rano artisanal bakery. We taste a thick loaf of wheat Classic bread. It is soft with crunchy crust and goes perfectly with country butter and filter coffee. What better way to star your Saturday?
Weronika Nogańska and Mateusz Karkoszka (in private life a couple) have been working together in the kitchen of several Warsaw restaurants, including Dom in Żoliborz or Bagno Food&Wine in the city centre. Mateusz has been main chef at Kieliszki na Próżnej for several years. Weronika met Ania when they were working at the bar of the first Cud nad Wisłą outdoor club. The three of them have known for a long time that they want to set up their own business together. It took them few years of meetings, planning and discussing the project.
Why did they choose the bread? Because there is still not enough quality bread and actually hardly anyone in Poland bakes it in an artisanal way using leaven dough – Ania says. I spent one year working at Odette pastry workshop and it made me realise that sweets and chocolate are not for me, I have definitely more fun baking bread – Weronika adds. She spent the next year at Local Bakery in Katowice where she received her training. – I am very grateful that the owners gave me the chance to learn how to bake bread. Working for them meant a lot to me. Initially, I was planning to study at the Academy of Fine Arts. In the meantime, however, I realised that I constantly think about food. I asked myself, why shouldn’t I be doing something that really brings me joy? It was then that I started my first job in the kitchen of the 1500m2 club.
We gave ourselves three months to find the right location, Ania says. Weronika found the place on the first day. It was a big space in Stalowa Street in the Warsaw district of Praga. There used to be a design shop and earlier a glazier workshop. The space was exceptional and beautiful, besides we didn’t want to be in a crowded place, Weronika explains. – We decided we prefer to stay aside. I believe in slow and calm business maturing. First, to let it grow and only then think about expansion. So far, it has been working for us.
Rano opened on July 23 with no grand opening. We still plan to have one, we add people to our guest list, but we just do not have time for it, Ania laughs. The beginning was tough with many odds on the way. It took us several months to obtain all the necessary permissions like plugging the power. The owners of the place were very helpful. We would not be able to go through all these formalities without their help. They were there for us from the first day we met, we are extremely grateful for their support.
Weronika starts her work at 5.30. First, she puts into the oven all the loaves of bread that rested in the refrigerator overnight. Then, she adds leaven and water into a kneading-trough with flour. She starts kneading the dough for the next breads. She prepares a coffee and small breakfast for herself and off to work again. At Rano, there is one person who is helping Weronika now – also a girl. Meanwhile, Ania takes care of sales and daily work related to running of the bakery. Mateusz tries to help the girls on his free days – combining his work at Rano with his daily job as a main chef at the restaurant. You can buy their bread at Mięsny in Saska Kępa or at Dom in Żoliborz. It is also served in Warsaw restaurants: Kieliszki, Bez Tytułu or Krem. The number of buyers is growing constantly – they started with baking 50 loaves per day, now they do over 100 loaves daily.
The hardest part about baking bread is predictability – achieving exactly the same effect every day, Weronika admits. There are so many variables – the temperature, the humidity, the variety of flour and the grinding method. A good baker is able to measure by eye; he or she knows instinctively how much water to add. Still, sometimes you need to come to terms with the defeat, when you weren’t able to take into consideration dozens of variables that influence the bread making. Sometimes when I see one uneven cut on a bread I cannot forgive myself, Weronika laughs. But that’s how it is with the craftsmanship – time is the best teacher. Is it tougher for the girls? It surely is, as they need to fight the masculinisation of this trade, with all the prejudice that only a strong man can cope with it. For example, one bakery refused once to give me a job just because I was a woman. And I love this job! I am all in it, it gives me huge satisfaction, especially when I can meet my clients every day and talk to them for a little while.
At Rano, you can buy the classics – wheat leaven breads, oat breads, breads with sesame and rye breads. During the weekends, if you come early enough, you can grab something sweet: brioches, bostocks and scones. Or, you can pop in for a coffee. In the second room, a café will soon be opened. Seems like a perfect place because everyone likes to stay here a bit longer to smell the freshly baked bread and feel the good energy of the owners of Rano.
Rano Bakery, Warsaw, Stalowa 47
Tuesday-Friday 8.00-15.00, Saturday 8.00-13.00