family ran the bakery for the next 70 years. Theo, born in Gillespie
County in 1880 was an experienced baker having operated bakeries
In 1954 Theo's son Edgar, a flour salesman, took over the business.
When Edgar retired, his son Don ran the bakery.
In 1965 Dietz Bakery moved up the street to 214 East Main next door
to the Domino Parlor.
The workday at Dietz began at 2am when the early birds began sifting
flour to velvety smoothness. Dietz used flour from Pioneer Mills
in San Antonio -
a company with roots in Fredericksburg.
Bakers then blended the ingredients in a large mixer. The mixed
dough fermented for 2 hours before skilled hands weighed it and
kneaded it on a long counter dusted with flour. Next workers molded
the dough and placed it in baking pans.
Before going into the oven the molded dough sat in a rectangular
wooden container called a "proof box." The steam from a kettle of
hot water in the bottom of the proof box moistened the dough and
caused it to rise.
As soon as the dough rose to the proper height bakers placed the
containers in a gas-fired oven.
Many of the finished loaves sold over-the-counter at the bakery.
The rest went to local grocery stores and restaurants.
Bakery made white bread, French loaf, rye, whole wheat and pumpernickel.
A local favorite was a white loaf known as a "pull-apart". It was
2 loaves baked together then pulled apart, leaving a crusty "heel"
at one end of each loaf.
The white bread had a chewy golden crust with a soft inside. The
pumpernickel, made from coarsely-ground rye berries, was dark and
On many Fridays and Saturdays, and before special holidays, Dietz
Bakery rose to the occasion and did 2 bakings. The second batch
hit the shelves before noon.
The bakery also made cinnamon rolls, coffee cakes and doughnuts.
I gain a pound just thinking about them.
But any way you slice it the bread was the star attraction. Dietz
bread was front and center at thousands of family dinners, birthdays,
wedding parties and special occasions. There are quite a few locals
still around who remember walking home cradling Dietz bread - the
loaf wrapped in white paper, still warm from the oven.
Dietz had a corner on the bread market. When I first came to town
I took a loaf of ordinary store-bought bread to a party. Big mistake.
Nobody would touch it. I was the butt of bread jokes for months.
Many of the people I talked to remember the aroma of Dietz Bakery
more than anything else. The smell of freshly baked bread overwhelmed
the brain and erased all other thoughts from the mind. It lured
customers, even tourists, to Dietz's door, drawn by an irresistible
Looking back it's hard for me to separate the bread from the culture
and the times that produced it. Dietz Bakery, like the people of
forged ahead through good times and bad. Dietz supplied this community
with bread through WWII,
numerous armed conflicts, the Cold War, hippies, the moon landing,
Watergate, disco, the fall of the iron curtain and 9/11.
A loaf of Dietz bread was a taste of history and one of those rare
things worth standing in line for.