Baking bread is a labor of love. It’s as much about science as it is intuitively feeling the dough, paying attention to the environment and adjusting for its nuances. It’s about becoming attuned to small changes that can make a big difference in texture and flavor. It’s about controlling the chaos of heat by making slashes on the dough’s surface before baking it. Otherwise, who knows where the steam will decide to escape from and what havoc it will wreak as it does.
If you fell into the meditating act of baking bread during the pandemic, you may remember all of these things, as well as the fact that bread needs a rising agent, either commercial or natural yeast.
Provided you made your own sourdough starter or levain, you probably named it because you had to feed it with flour and water over a few days and as you waited, hoping it would live, praying for those tiny bubbles. You encouraged it, talked to it and nurtured it like a pet.
And you knew you weren’t alone in this eccentricity. The French call sourdough starter le chef. In “The Man Who Ate Everything,” Jeffrey Steingarten described the moment his le chef swelled and smelled tangy, somewhere between beer and yogurt. “I am proud as a parent,” he wrote.
But perhaps my favorite thing about baking bread is watching with wonder as this iteration that is neither flour, nor water, nor salt turns into a crackling crust with a tender, aerated crumb, carrying the age-old flavor of toasted wheat, sometimes with additional nutty, sweet or grassy notes and always the slight tang.
There is magic in freshly baked bread.
And you don’t have to bake it yourself to enjoy it. Around the Valley there are fantastic bakers doing the work for you making baguettes, loaves and all manner of fresh breads.
Here’s your guide to bread bakeries in metro Phoenix.
Noble Bread in Phoenix
Served at many of Phoenix‘s most popular restaurants, like FnB and Common Ground. Noble Bread was opened in 2012 by owner Jason Raducha who uses non-GMO ancient grains and a starter named Claussen, “because it was given to us years ago in a Claussen pickle jar,” he said.
Noble bakers create a variety of 36-hour breads, including ciabatta, semolina and their famous Royal English muffins.
Noble Eatery located at the corner of N. 24th Street and E. Campbell Avenue sells bread and offers lunch options along with some sweets. You can also buy Noble breads at the following farmers markets: Downtown Phoenix, Uptown, Roadrunner Park, Old Town Scottsdale, Fountain Hills, Carefree, Chandler, Downtown Mesa, Gilbert and Sun City.
Details: 4525 N. 24th St., Phoenix. 602-688-2424, noblebread.com.
Eatery hours: 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday to Friday; Closed Saturday and Sunday.
Price: $6 to $9.
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Essence Bakery in Phoenix
Phoenix is no stranger to French-trained chef Eugenia Theodosopoulos and her macarons, but at her café, she also sells pastries, jam and fresh bread for which she uses Hayden Mills and organic King Arthur flour.
Find baguettes, whole wheat, seeded and traditional sourdough loaves made entirely with local Hayden Mills flour, seeded wheat Pullman loaves and rustic loaves, brioche and seasonal specials like hazelnut-fig, Dad’s sesame organic wheat, Greek Easter koulara, hot cross buns and chocolate orange brioche.
Details: 3830 E. Indian School Road, Phoenix. 602-296-4958, essencebakery.com.
Hours: 6:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Wednesday to Sunday.
Prices: $3.95 to $8.95.
Hope’s Artisan Bread in Litchfield Park
Self-taught Australian siblings Hope Mendrin and Esai Bolderoff own Hope’s Artisan Bread Bakery in Litchfield Park. To achieve a healthy gut microbiome, Mendrin looked to fermentation and thus began her foray into the world of sourdough, which turned into her profession.
She started selling classic sourdough, Italian, rosemary, cranberry walnut and rye in 2018 and opened her first brick-and-mortar in Litchfield Park in 2020. They opened a second location in September, 2022 called Blue Corn Cafe & Bakery in Glendale’s Historic Heritage Square, @bluecorncafebakery on Sept. 22.
Details: 13331 W. Indian School Road, Unit 202, Litchfield Park. hopesartisanbread.com. And Blue Corn Cafe & Bakery, 7015 N. 58th Ave., Glendale. thebluecorncafe.com.
Hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday; 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday; closed on Monday. Check the Blue Corn Cafe & Bakery Instagram for updated hours.
Prices: $9 to $11.
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Proof Bread in Mesa
Proof is currently owned and run by Jon Przybyl and Amand a Abou-Eid, a husband-and-wife team who purchased the bakery from Jared Allen in 2017, and have expanded it by leaps and bounds from a garage to a bakery and grocery store in Mesa. They hope to add two additional locations in Phoenix at some point.
The loaves are made with whole grains and are born from Harriet, the starter the couple inherited from Allen.
They make country sourdough, French bread, cinnamon raison boule, multigrain boule, green olive boule, baguette, English muffins and seasonal bakes.
In addition to the storefronts, you can find Proof bread at these farmers’ markets: Gilbert, Downtown Phoenix, Uptown, Roadrunner, Old town Scottsdale, Eastmark and Ahwatukee. Home delivery is also available.
Bakery: 125 W. Main St., Mesa.
Hours: 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. or until sold out on Sunday.
Main Street Harvest: 121 W. Main St., Mesa.
Hours: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.
Prices: $8 and $10.
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JL Patisserie in Phoenix and Scottsdale
Owner and Le Cordon Blue-trained chef Jenna Leurquin owns the bakery in Scottsdale and café in central Phoenix and although her focus is mostly pastry, she also offers fresh bread baked with her starter, Mother, which was given to her by her teacher in France.
Bread options include whole wheat and spelt loaves, brioche dinner rolls and the not-to-miss traditional baguettes. Whereas baguettes ordinaire use yeast and cost less, baguette à l’ancienne or baguette de Campagne is made with levain or natural starter and hand-formed. You can tell by the pointy ends and irregularities in the loaves that this is the method Leurquin employs for her baguettes.
Patisserie: 7342 E. Shea Blvd. #108, Scottsdale. 480-859-4459
Cafe: 4700 N. Central Ave. #121, Phoenix.
Hours: 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday to Sunday; Closed on Monday.
Prices: Baguettes cost $4, loaves are $9 to $9.50 and rolls are $11 for half dozen and $20 for a dozen.
La Belle Vie in Scottsdale and Gilbert
La Belle Vie is the brainchild of self-taught Swiss-French baker Nathas Kraus. When Kraus, then a banker, moved to the states, he couldn’t find freshly baked bread like he had back in France, so he began baking his own.
Eight years later, Kraus has moved from his home kitchen to a brick-and-mortar bakery. He named his starter Gabriel, “like the angel,” he said. He cold ferments his dough, which means he lets it rise in the fridge. A slow rise deepens the flavor.
He said his goal is to teleport people to a place and time in their lives or create that place and time for them with his food. For him, he feels his bread tastes like France.
Fans wait in long lines to buy his breads, which include baguette Parisienne, burli (swiss rolls) and rustic French bread, which he bakes with a darker crust.
Breads can be preordered online for pick up at the shop or purchased on Saturdays at the Gilbert farmers market. Kraus announces the weekly menu on Instagram and opens the preorder on his website on Tuesday evenings.
Details: 8119 E. Roosevelt St., Scottsdale. labelleviebakery.com.
Store Hours: 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday to Saturday.
Prices: $4.75 to $8.25.
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Mediterra Bakehouse in Coolidge
Mediterra was opened by Nick Ambeliotis in Pennsylvania in 2002. And 10 years later, he opened a second bakery in Coolidge, Arizona about 45 miles southeast of Phoenix with partner Dino Koulouris. The two added farmer Noah Hiscox to their team and since 2014 they have been farming their own Red fife, a heritage grain, milling their own flour and, with the help of an almost 50- year-old starter, baking a large variety of bread from loaves to baguettes to brioche, pretzels and scones.
Mediterra is available at their Coolidge storefront and at a number of markets in the Valley including Uptown and Old Town Scottsdale Farmers markets as well as Whole Foods and AJ’s.
Details: 226 S. Main St., Coolidge. 520-723-1853, mediterrabakehouse.com.
Hours: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday to Saturday.
Price: $6 and $14.
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Source: Thanks https://eu.azcentral.com/story/entertainment/dining/2022/09/23/bakery-guide-fresh-bread-phoenix/7907678001/