Hermann Wayd squeezes a pastry bag across rows of hot cross buns so neatly even his Austrian baking teachers would smile.
He never made a hot cross bun in the Old Country. Baltimoreans, however, gobble them up in the Lenten season. So he learned to make a bun dough laced with citron and crossed with whipped sugar.
This past December, Mr. Wayd took over the old Muhly's Bakery in the 1100 block of S. Charles St., near the Cross Street Market in South Baltimore.
The bakery, long a local favorite, was a plain spot that catered to Baltimore's tastes and pocketbooks. It wasn't fancy. The jelly rolls and buns were good. Icing on the birthday cakes was electric blue and stop-light red. In inheriting Muhly's, he's kept the place pretty much the same, using the tried-and-true formulas, while adding more than a few knockout touches of his own.
Mr. Wayd, who left Europe in 1962, is a master pastry chef whose personal tastes and training run to gorgeous confections, dessert dreams laced with whipped cream, marzipan, crushed hazelnuts, mocha buttercream and toasted almonds.
They look like they should be enjoyed after an evening at the Vienna State Opera.
Born in Eisenerz, Austria, a small town (the name means iron ore) north of Graz, the baker went through a full apprenticeship before working in Switzerland, Germany and London. A former Silber's bakery employee recommended that Mr. Wayd investigate the Muhly's operation, which the Muhly family wanted to sell.
Mr. Wayd is a quiet man, a father of seven with a prodigious capacity for the long hours of work his craft demands. He is also patient.
One of Mr. Wayd's specialties is a cheese cake he worked three years to perfect. It's a celestial confection made of butter, cream cheese, cream, sugar and pure vanilla.
He dreams of opening a real "Konditorei," one of those little German shops alongside a bakery where the ladies repair in the afternoons for a slice of apricot parfait torte, a cup of coffee and gossip.
"Can't you see a nice little cafe, with a place to read the newspaper and a little expresso or cognac? Maybe a little lunch or a slice of cake," Mr. Wayd mused.
He concedes that South Baltimore may be a difficult market for some of his fancier and costlier wares. "It's difficult to sell European tortes here for $3 a slice. Yet once people start developing a taste, I feel confident we'll succeed," he said.
Though new to Baltimore, he's secured some good commercial accounts -- Santoni's, Farm Fresh and the Naval Academy. There's a coffee shop alongside his retail bakery and he supplies this locally popular gathering spot with baked goods.
But, he missed out on baked goods for Oriole Park, a contract that went to a Rockville bakery.
Three of his sons (James, Jeff and Gregory) work alongside him in the old Muhly baking plant, which stretches around South Charles Street to the unit block of E. West St. He's quite a stickler for cleanliness and order. He's also thoroughly upgrading the part of building the public never sees.
When his dreams of expansion come true, he'll be trading as Wayd's Bakery and Konditorei.
In the meantime, try the rye bread, the pumpernickel, the Kaiser rolls and the Federal Hill cake. Austria's loss is Baltimore's gain.