We own and operate a small bakery adjacent to our home in
Elbridge Township, MI.  It has enabled us to have a home-based business that allows us to be together as a family, to do something we know and enjoy, and to participate in a movement we strongly support:  the promotion of organic agriculture and local cottage industry.

BAKED GOODS
          Our pastries and breads are made with simple ingredients [organic, local Michigan grains milled by local Michigan mills for our flour needs, whenever possible], but the breads themselves are full-flavored and complex. Nearly all of our breads are naturally-leavened--this means that, rather than using commercial yeast, we cultivate a starter that captures wild yeast (yeast naturally present in the flour and in the air). A naturally-leavened bread is more easily digested by our bodies because it undergoes a longer period of fermentation. This long period of fermentation also contributes to the development of extraordinary flavors!!  Another wonderful benefit of a naturally-leavened bread is that it keeps for a week on the counter. Our bread also freezes beautifully if a whole loaf is too much for one to eat at a time!

OVEN
          Our hand-built oven utilizes wood-fire heat that is stored in 15,000 pounds of masonry that is specially designed to provide the radiant, even heat necessary for efficient baking of whole grain loaves with crusty, crackly exteriors and moist, perfectly textured interiors. Traditionally, ovens of this sort have been used all over the world for professional and communal bread-baking, but our understanding is that currently there are only forty of these ovens in use in the United States and now we have one right here in our own backyard! Our oven is an important component of our baking process as it not only bakes our bread well, but it also helps keep our overhead and environmental impact low by using a renewable resource for fuel.

POWER
          We are powering our bakehouse with the same solar electric system with which we’ve been running
our household for a number of years.  This feature makes us the only commercial kitchen in the state of Michigan (to our knowledge) to run off of alternative energy.












HISTORY

          Charlie’s education as a bread baker began in 1994 at Sleepy Creek Farm in West Virginia where they baked an array of yeasted breads to sell at farmers’ markets in Washington D.C.  Following this apprenticeship he volunteered for one year at Wildflour Bakery in Ann Arbor then moved out to California to study with Alan Scott, the renowned baker and builder of wood-fired brick ovens.  It was there, with Alan, that Charlie was first introduced to the art of sourdough bread baking using a Flemish desem as the starter.   He continued his education in naturally-leavened breads (baked in a wood-fired brick oven) while apprenticing with master baker Jeff Ford at Cress Spring Bakery in Mount Horeb, Wisconsin.  After a year of baking under Jeff’s tutelage Charlie moved to Ypsilanti, Michigan to take a job as head baker at the Depot Town Sourdough Bakery where he remained for two years.
          Hilde’s interest in artisan bread baking began over ten years ago while she was still in college.  [We met in 1999 when Hilde, on spring break, first popped into the Depot Town Bakery to see what we were up to there].  Upon graduation, her desire was to bake in the Ann Arbor area.  Fortunately, Ann Arbor is home to the famous Zingerman’s Bakehouse where Hilde worked for five years both as a baker and in retail sales.  
          During his time at the Depot Town Bakery, Charlie began looking for land where he could build a home and small bakehouse of his own.  He eventually found and purchased the property where we’ve built our home, a barn, and extensive garden since 2005. 
          Since she left Zingerman’s, Hilde continued her baking practice at home, independently furthering her work with both naturally leavened and yeasted breads.  It was here in our home kitchen that she developed recipes for irresistible cookies, brownies, muffins, cinnamon rolls, scones, pies, and granola.

           While establishing our homestead we kept our eyes on the dream of building our own small bakery.  In the summer of 2009 we broke ground and by the winter Charlie had completed work on the center piece of our bakery, the wood-fired brick oven.

            We are very excited to be baking in this oven and to be producing handmade, full-flavored bread for the good people of Oceana County.  We are selling at various local retailers and farmers’ markets and base our sales around organic, naturally leavened breads and goodies.
          What inspires us though, along with everything mentioned above, is the potential for good, honest, life-giving work and the notion that we might participate in bolstering a struggling economy through an example of small scale entrepreneurialism.  We are very excited to be a part of a burgeoning local food economy.
          Our family appreciates your taking the time to read our story and try our products.
          Hilde, Charlie, Finn and Annie