Bread & Roses
I’ve been baking bread for nearly five decades. I love the rhythmic zen of kneading. I have a special bowl for proofing and a dedicated heating pad to aid the process. I enjoy the gentle shaping of the loaves, the comforting aroma as it bakes and the crack of golden crust as I take that first toothsome bite.
Buying all my supplies has never been a problem. The little yellow packets of yeast were always found on the highest shelf at the grocery and were almost always covered with a thin layer of dust.
But those days are gone. Now dry yeast has become one of the hardest ingredients for home bakers to find. For the four-week period ending April 11, yeast sales jumped 410 percent year over year, according to market research firm Nielsen.
The yeast shortage began shortly after the quarantine began. Within two to three weeks Fleischmann dry yeast inventory “was gone almost instantly,” said John Heilman, vice president of yeast manufacturing for AB Mauri, makers of Fleischmann’s Yeast, in a USA TODAY interview.
Fortunately, Katherine Madere, who started baking bread seriously a year ago, had plenty of yeast on hand.
“When I bought the last batch, I asked myself, ‘Do I really need this much yeast?’ and thankfully I decided I did.”
Madere hasn’t mastered baking croissants yet, but for the past year the only bread her family breaks is baked in her oven.
A while back, a friend suggested she try selling her bread. So, she put out a feeler on Facebook and her tiny business was born.
When the stay-at-home order hit, her employment dropped to 10 hours of remote work, and she had to make more than a few adjustments. Madere began filling her time with baking. It reduced her anxiety and it produced much needed revenue.
She sells about 10 loaves a week, and though that doesn’t pay all her bills, her success has her considering expansion. Her little cottage industry, Bread & Roses, offers Harvest Wheat, Country White and Jewish Rye. She’ll also make sourdough as a special order. All bread is delivered to her customer’s door and comes with a small bouquet of fresh flowers picked from Madere’s lush garden.
“My life will never be the same,” she says. “I’ve discovered I really like working from home, tending my garden and baking bread. I’d much rather be working with my hands than working in an office. I want to sell bread to my neighbors, and I want to buy my neighbor’s goods. I want to know where everything I buy comes from. I think this will be my new thing — owning my own small business.