Eats: Loaves of Love Bakery — Grandma’s in a box

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A cinnamon roll from Loaves of Love Bakery
A cinnamon roll from Loaves of Love Bakery

Once upon a time, beloved Maine cook, food writer and cookbook author Marjorie Standish wrote about bread. It was one of her earliest columns, published on Jan. 2, 1949, about the tradition of good, homemade bread.

She wrote: “Truly, you’ve never realized one of the real joys of preparing food until you’ve taken a loaf of your own baking, all crusty brown and smelling good, from your oven.”

Seventy years later, the bread-baking movement continues the battle against tasteless industrial loaves. Bread machines sparked an interest in the art in the 1980s, and more recently, artisanal bread consumption has surged. Yet, as much as modern cooks might long to fill their homes with the delicious aroma of fresh-baked bread, will the frenzied pace of modern life allow us a quiet morning in the kitchen to bake up our daily bread? Maybe there’s another way.

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Meet Jennifer Legere-Lauze, owner of Loaves of Love Home Bakery in Auburn. Since 2016, Jennifer has been baking breads, muffins, rolls and cookies in her cozy, state-licensed home kitchen. She officially opened in September 2016, but has been baking for as long as she can remember.

Loaves of Love operates on a “community sponsored” model, like a vegetable farm share for baked goods. Each week, customers meet Legere-Lauze at a designated pick-up spot for a delicious box of bread, cookies and other baked goods. The session generally runs for six to eight weeks; bread boxes range from extra-small to large.

Legere-Lauze says she has always enjoyed baking and sharing food with people. She learned to bake from her mother and grandmothers. “Both of my grandmothers were family bakers. Most of the recipes I have come from my grandmothers and were passed down. I spent a lot of time with them.”

Legere-Lauze also spent some time working at the front end of the popular local bakery The Bread Shack and had an opportunity to observe the operation run by Dara Reimers. Legere-Lauze also baked for Greenwood Orchards on Route 4 in Turner.

Husband Dan Lauze says his wife has always baked all their food, and says they were “amazed at how many people were telling us ‘Oh, I wish I could bake from scratch, but I just don’t have time.’”

“There was our niche,” he says.

Taking her inspiration from her mother, her grandmothers and her vintage 1969 “Betty Crocker’s Cookbook,” Legere-Lauze creates the menu for her weekly delivery on Sunday. “Bake Days,” like the name implies, are the days of the week when Legere-Lauze creates magic. Depending on the number of customers she has in a current session, she will bake one or two days per week.

“Bake Days” generally begin at 4:30 a.m. and, she says, “I do all my baking on one day. . . . It’s automatic . . . all planned in advance.”

“There is a method to it. Do I have time to bake this before the bread is ready to rise? I have to coordinate when everything will get into the oven. The challenge is to see how everything will be finished at the right time.”

Legere-Lauze will bake until noon and then prepare product packaging while breads, bars and cookies cool. By early afternoon, she’s ready to pack up her car and meet customers at delivery pick-ups. Legere-Lauze will drive her bakery-scented car to meet customers at central meeting spots around Lewiston-Auburn.

Smiles and happiness ensues and another successful “Bake Day” is done.

A VISIT TO GRANDMOTHER’S HOUSE

What can you expect in a weekly box? “What we offer is what you’d expect if you went to your grandmother’s house or if your mother cooked for you,” says Legere-Lauze.

Weekly boxes begin at $10 a week for an extra-small box that serves one. It includes the baker’s choice of two of the following each week: one loaf of bread, six muffins or one small sweet bread, eight cookies, cookie bars or brownies, or six biscuits or rolls. At the other end of the spectrum, serving five or more, is the large box at $40 a week and includes the baker’s choice of five of the following each week: two loaves of bread, 24 cookies, 12 muffins, one large sweet bread, 12 biscuits or rolls, or cookie bars or brownies.

In addition to standard loaf breads like oatmeal and anadama, Legere-Lauze says she’s been inspired by friends to add Irish soda and challah bread to the repertoire. The baked goods she offers include cinnamon rolls, muffins and sweet breads.

Legere-Lauze also does special orders in addition to the weekly boxes for things like biscuits and perfectly shaped dinner rolls.

But don’t worry (too much) about your waistline.

“I don’t supersize anything; I make things normal-size,“ she says.

While Legere-Lauze’s products can be frozen for the future, one piece of feedback she gets on a regular basis is that some of her treats don’t make it beyond the present. Things like ginger snaps, soft molasses cookies and chocolate crinkle cookies, to name just three.

So what’s next for Loaves of Love? Legere-Lauze says she’d like to grow her business.

“Being able to find those people who don’t have the time or don’t enjoy baking and to be able to provide this to them,” she says, “that’s part of our goal.”

She’d consider partnering with local small businesses to offer the weekly bread experience to their employees, and thinks offering the product to local college students would be a great way to deliver home-baked goods to them.

Based on the size of her kitchen, Legere-Lauze estimates she can accommodate up to 20 bread boxes per week. Longer term, she’s designated space in her house for a commercial kitchen, but admits “that’s a long way away.”

Legere-Lauze’s next session will begin on July 6. She may be contacted on either the Loaves of Love Home Bakery Facebook page or by e-mail at loavesoflovebakery@gmail.com.

Julie-Ann Baumer lives, cooks, and writes from her home in Lisbon Falls. Read her blog www.julieannbaumer.com or follow her on twitter @aunttomato

A loaf of challah bread from Loaves of Love Bakery

Dear Diary: I’ve traveled to a beautiful world of baked goods

By Julie-Ann Baumer, special to the Sun Journal

After interviewing Loaves of Love owner Jennifer Legere-Lauze at her ginger-snap-scented house for this week’s Eats article, I asked her if she would let me join the current bread-box session so I could sample her baking and give readers an overview of my experience. Flexible, she let me sign up for a “small” for the three remaining weeks. The following is my “bread diary”:

WEEK 1

I met Jennifer at our pre-arranged drop a few miles from my house. One warm loaf of buxom oatmeal bread, a dozen soft molasses cookies, a zucchini sweet bread and a bonus half-dozen of a special recipe pineapple cookie. I also ordered a dozen dinner rolls for Mother’s Day. I left everything safely in the back seat and stepped on the gas so I could get home while the bread was still warm. Oh gluten-y goodness of oatmeal bread slathered with butter. Within seconds I had drifted to somewhere in the long-ago past. I nudged myself back to reality. Jennifer was right, it really was just like being at my grandmother’s house.

I jotted some notes down on an index card over the following week, but how many times can you write “yum” and “delicious” and “do I have any more butter?

P.S. Words can’t accurately describe the dinner rolls. They’re like perfectly shaped clouds floating in formation, waiting for . . . butter.

WEEK 2

I picked up my box of love today: a loaf of perfectly browned and braided challah bread, “donut muffins” and a banana bread. Lisa also gave me some “test scones,” one of which (sadly) did not make it home even though I did not have any butter in the car. This second week, I again found myself thinking: “It’s like I’m traveling to a place in the past that I never knew existed. A beautiful world of baked goods.” I brought some slices of the challah bread to a friend, who later said “It was amazing. Dense, but not heavy; buttery and tasty.”

I froze half the banana bread and scattered the muffins among friends. My popularity is soaring.

#loavesoflove #makebreadnotbombs

WEEK 3

Today is my final bread delivery. A loaf of anadama, six buttermilk biscuits, 12 chocolate crinkle cookies and a cinnamon coffee cake loaf. Two cookies somehow disappear on the drive home along that stretch of Route 196 I call the food desert. You know where I mean.

When I get home, I slice the anadama loaf in half and freeze it. Then I walk to my parents’ house and we take a cinnamon coffee cake coffee break. I leave some of the cookies, too. The phone rings later and it’s my mother. “Those cookies . . . they’re wonderful!”

Jennifer’s husband, Dan, was right. Loaves of Love boxes offer something for every part of the day. The anadama loaf, dense and traditional, toasts up well and goes great with scrambled eggs. It tastes good with a big green salad at lunch, too.

I’m just one woman. The small-sized offering is too much for just me, so next session, I’m going to sign up for the extra-small.

Sign me one delighted Loaves of Love fan!

Ginger snaps from Loaves of Love Bakery

Loaves of Love Home Bakery

Owner: Jennifer Legere-Lauze

Email: loavesoflovebakery@gmail.com

On Facebook: Loaves of Love Home Bakery

Dinner rolls from Loaves of Love Bakery
Dinner rolls from Loaves of Love Bakery
A loaf of banana bread from Loaves of Love Bakery
A loaf of banana bread from Loaves of Love Bakery
Chocolate chip cookies from Loaves of Love Bakery
Chocolate chip cookies from Loaves of Love Bakery
Lemon pound cake from Loaves of Love Bakery
Lemon pound cake from Loaves of Love Bakery
Cinnamon rolls from Loaves of Love Bakery
Cinnamon rolls from Loaves of Love Bakery
A ginger snap cookie from Loaves of Love Bakery
A ginger snap cookie from Loaves of Love Bakery
A dinner roll from Loaves of Love Bakery
A dinner roll from Loaves of Love Bakery
A chocolate chip cookie from Loaves of Love Bakery
A chocolate chip cookie from Loaves of Love Bakery

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