Artisans roll out art of traditional French baking
While many Austinites are asleep at 2 a.m., bakers at local deli, pizzeria and bakery Blue Baker are just beginning their workday to provide fresh breads for their customers.
Blue Baker, located in the Arboretum, makes all of its breads and baked goods from scratch, a process that spans three days for breads. Dough is weighed, kneaded, baked, fermented, hand-shaped and re-shaped before it becomes retail-ready. Bakery Manager Nyssa Bacia said that coming into work at 2 a.m. is worth it for how much she enjoys her job.
"I enjoy it so much that getting up early is no big deal," she said. "I found out when I was in school that bread was where my passion and love was. It's very therapeutic and relaxing."
Marketing Director Sarah Sagebiel said Blue Baker does not use any preservatives or chemical additives in its breads. The bread-making process is based on traditional French baking, and making products from scratch gives Blue Baker's goods more flavor, owner Dave Fox said.
"For breads, if you can have control of the process, you can make the breads much more flavorful and the textures much more interesting," he said.
Also made from scratch are the croissants, which the restaurant incorporates into one of its most popular menu items, the Club Bleu sandwich, which is packed with bacon, Swiss cheese, honey mustard, lettuce, tomatoes, ham and turkey.
Blue Baker's Arboretum location, which opened in May 2012, is its first in Austin. Fox founded the business in College Station in 2001 with the intention to create a restaurant that was welcoming to people of all ages. Fox said Austin felt like a good place to grow the business and that the Arboretum location attracts many families.
In College Station, the restaurant started a tradition of giving out free food to anyone who came in dressed or painted in blue head-to-toe, which has yet to catch on in Austin, he said.
To get more involved in the community, Blue Baker donates all of its unsold baked items to Mobile Loaves & Fishes, an organization that feeds the homeless. The bakery also gives about two tours daily Monday through Wednesday. The tours are so popular that they are already booked through August.
"I think it brings people in who are normally from different parts of Austin," Sagebiel said.
In any given week, Blue Baker makes about 80 different types of baked goods. Below are a few of the bakery's pastries, which are $2.25 each or $10.50 for a half dozen.
- Apple bearclaws
- Cinnamon buns
- Cinnamon twists
- Apricot, raspberry or cream cheese danishes
- Plain, chocolate or chocolate almond croissants
- Pumpkin, cranberry walnut, lemon poppyseed, chocolate chip, blueberry or bran muffins
Daily specialty breads
Blue Baker makes featured breads for each day of the week, which may be purchased for $3–$4.50.
- Sunday: Shiner Bock beer bread, zucchini, cinnamon raisin swirl
- Monday: Rye, cappuccino chip
- Tuesday: Jalapeo cheese, blueberry peach
- Wednesday: Sun-dried tomato and herb, banana bread
- Thursday: Spinach and feta cheese, cinnamon swirl
- Friday: Garlic and herb, challah, ciabatta, chocolate cherry
- Saturday: Kalamata olive and rosemary, ciabatta, pumpkin
Blue Baker, 10000 Research Blvd., Bldg. A, 512-346-2583, www.bluebaker.com, Hours: 7 a.m.–10 p.m. daily