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Panaderia mi Tierra makes fresh bread daily
Bakery owner Jose Hernandez creates different batches to tease customers taste buds
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One of two display cases holds the bread of the day at Panaderia mi Tierra off Atlanta Highway in Gainesville. The breads range from conchas to orejas. Conchas are circular-shaped bread with a white crust pattern of a conch shell. They are in the top left corner. Orejas, translated as ears, are made with a flaky dough and lacquered with sugar. They are the pastry on the far right middle shelf. - photo by CHARLES OLSEN

Panaderia mi Tierra

Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 8 or 9 p.m. daily

Location: 1870 Atlanta Highway, Gainesville

Phone number: 470-290-8641

Early each morning, Jose Hernandez and his wife, Anna Olvera, are in their bakery mixing ingredients for different batches of bread for the day at Panaderia mi Tierra in Gainesville. Conchas, crescents and bolillos to be exact.

If you’re unfamiliar with a concha, it’s a typical Mexican sweet pastry made from water, eggs, sugar, flour, salt, yeast and margarine. With a sugary paste baked into the bread, the pastry is pressed with a mold to resemble sea shells, thus the name concha.

To make bolillos, or bread for tortas (Mexican sandwiches),  Hernandez and Olvera mix water, flour, yeast, salt and sugar. And when the bolillos are served warm, they are great for dipping in coffee.

After the ingredients are combined, before most souls are awake, the married couple knead the dough to the right consistency before cutting it into tiny balls. Now, Hernandez works the dough into the specific “bread of the day.”

Finally, he places the dough in the oven and lets it bake for two hours.

Like clockwork, at 8:30 a.m. when the restaurant doors open, the bread comes out hot and fresh, Hernandez said. It is then stacked into holders and left to cool, waiting for customers to pick up their preferred batch to take home, he said.

All of the fresh breads can be found in the small Panaderia mi Tierra, which translates to “bakery of my land.”

Hernandez said he always makes different batches each day to keep the customers’ taste buds happy.

“It’s important to change up the flavors and make different breads, or the people get tired of the usual,” Hernandez said.

Located at 1870 Atlanta Highway in Gainesville, Panaderia mi Tierra is open from 8:30 a.m. to 8 or 9 p.m. daily. The store may close early if the bread sells out, which has happened. 

But if you pass by around 8:30-10 a.m., you can enjoy some of my favorite bread — the conchas.

A single bite into a hot concha and you’ll fall in love with it. The bread melts in your mouth and is the right balance of sweet without being too overpowering. It is just perfect as a delicious treat for special occasions and or the every day.

Conchas are great to dunk in coffee, but it’s even better if you can get them hot and fresh at the bakery. Customers can sit back and enjoy the bread with the $1 cup of coffee.

By 3 p.m., Hernandez’s stacks of bread dwindle to almost nothing. He sells out by the afternoon as customers leave work and head home, stopping by his business for a load.

So, Hernandez suggests customers or first-timers come by before then to have the widest selection of bread.

But whenever customers walk into Panaderia mi Tierra, Olvera greets them with a wide smile. And depending on the time of day, customers can sometimes smell the bread baking in the back and feel the heat radiating off the bolillos kept in the case.

Before Hernandez and his wife opened their store in May 2011, the owner said he started baking the bread before sunrise to load into his food truck by 6 a.m. He sold typical Mexican breads such as conchas, bolillos, cuernitos (croissants) and other breads for 55 cents. He’d drive to Lenox Park, Harmony Church Road, Catalina Drive and other subdivisions in Gainesville and sell his bread from 6 a.m. until it was sold out. For a year, Hernandez sold the bread from his truck to earn enough money to open his brick-and-mortar store, the Panaderia mi Tierra.

But that year was not wasted. Hernandez said he built a strong network of regular customers who enjoy the bread. One of those customers is Jose Arzate.

“I pass by daily to get bread, since I come to work through here,” Arzate said. “My favorite is the Ojo de Pancha.”

Ojo de Pancha is like a muffin with a sweet flaky crust wrapped around it.

Regular customer Luz Mendoza enjoys all kinds of bread, especially since it “is always fresh and good.

“I like it  because they make it right here,” he said.

So pass by in the morning and enjoy a fresh hot concha and a cup of coffee to start your day.

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