Pop quiz: What is the life expectancy of a scone?
A) 4 hours
B) 24-48 hours in fridge
C) Three days, wrapped in wax paper
The answer, according to Joseph "Jody" Freyvogel, is A. The scone won't turn to dust or spontaneously combust after that time -- it'll just be past its lumpy goodness.
Freyvogel is Pittsburgh's stealth baker. Until recently, only coffeehouse staff and private clients would see him in the morning's wee hours, delivering batches of freshly baked goods. Now, the chemical-engineer-turned-baker can be heard educating folks on the lifespan of baked goods at The Twilight Market, a burgeoning farmers' market in the Central North Side (at Buena Vista and Jacksonia streets).
"Do you know how ciabatta is made?" Freyvogel asks a passerby. "Would you like to know?" He offers a sample slice with a brief explanation. One hour into the market, Freyvogel's tall rack of loaves has dwindled significantly.
You may have tasted Freyvogel's baked goods at local independent coffeehouses -- at one point, he supplied six. But after various closings, he's now down to two: Affogato (613 Lincoln Ave., Bellevue, 412-761-0750) and Beleza Community Coffee House, in the Mexican War Streets (1501 Buena Vista St., 412-321-4210).
Freyvogel, who uses natural fermentation methods, regularly bakes two staples -- sourdough and Italian Calabrese -- as well as two daily specials. On Saturdays, those are orange blossom and Canadian multigrain; on Wednesdays, wheat-oat raisin and cinnamon raisin.
Every day, muffins and heavenly cinnamon rolls come fresh from his Brighton Heights (ACHD-approved) kitchen. His "Health Choice" bread varieties, all baked with organic flour, include soy flax, multigrain and 10-grain. Any of the baked goods can be special-ordered one day in advance through Affogato and Beleza.
"The reason I'm successful is because people don't want to get up at 3 or 4 in the morning," laughs Freyvogel, who calls himself a traditional, not artisan, baker. "It's only flour, water and leavener."
The humility seems real on Freyvogel, but others consider it false modesty.
Brad Richards, who worked for years at the now-shuttered Vault in Brighton Heights and now fills in at Beleza, calls Freyvogel's baked goods "stunning." "I've been in the specialty coffee business for 12 years and he's consistently the best," says Richards. "He's a staple for any coffeehouse."