These Micro Bread Bakers Are Selling Home-Crafted Creations During the Pandemic

Seven small-scale artisans earning big raves for their breads

At the beginning of the pandemic, everybody seemed to decide together that this would be our chance to start baking bread at home. But, after a few less-than-transcendent loaves, you and your quarantine pod-mates may be growing weary of the DIY approach. Thankfully, a sizable crop of expert bread makers around L.A. County will welcome your support. Enthusiastic home bakers and professionals who have been kept from their restaurant and bakery jobs due to COVID-19 are now selling their loaves and desserts to a grateful clientele. Here are seven local pickup and delivery options, spanning from the San Gabriel foothills to the San Pedro surf.

Gemini Bakehouse

The massive James Farm Eggs box in the recycle bin let us know this wasn’t a typical home cooking operation. Conor and Hannah Smith previously baked for companies like Bottega Louie, Lodge Bread, and Larder Baking Co. before opening their own business in the La Crescenta foothills house. Gemini refers to their twin daughters, and to a stick-and-poke tattoo that Hannah gave Conor: an eye with a diamond pupil (gem in eye). Sourdough loaves are dense and chewy, with formidable crusts. Turmeric golden beet loaves add vivid color and earthy base notes. Savory everything bagels deliver satisfying chew, and muffin-shaped coffee cakes arrive soft and gooey, with a hint of salt. They recently moved to a larger production kitchen in Hollywood and started supplying country loaves, brioche, burger buns and ciabatta to former employer Petit Trois le Valley. Order through the Gemini Bakehouse website.

San Pedro Sourdough

Kate McLaughlin runs her “wild yeast nano-breadery” out of a triple-wide trailer by the sea, crafting artisan bread with whole grains stone milled on site. She made sourdough bread with just flour, water, and salt for family and friends for six years before going pro last summer. McLaughlin bakes twice a week and typically drops off loaves locally at The Corner Store on Friday mornings and Green Girl Farms on Saturday mornings. She also supplies nearby Compagnon Wine Bistro. McLaughlin sticks exclusively to bread, though loaves are available with ingredients like cinnamon raisin, apricot wildflower and Kalamata olive with rosemary and lemon zest. This is her side hustle–McLaughlin works as a journalism teacher at El Camino College in Torrance–so production’s limited. Order through San Pedro Sourdough’s Square page. 

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John Pitblado English Muffins | Photo: Joshua Lurie

John Pitblado

The Gourmandise School instructor previously baked for Friends & Family; now he focuses on a home bakery, utilizing California-grown, organic grains. He personally delivers loaves and treats across Los Angeles like a glutenous Johnny Appleseed. In addition to daily loaves, he also bakes buttery chocolate-pistachio, apricot, and walnut-cinnamon-cardamom babkas, semolina-coated English muffins, and grape-rosemary focaccia. Email [email protected] for a current product list and to place orders.

Proust Bakery

Of course madeleines are the cover image on Alina Cardenas’s website. Her bakery’s namesake novelist Marcel Proust would have it no other way. Cardenas has been a professional baker for six years, and worked for Petit Trois le Valley up until February, when she plotted a bakery that goes way beyond madeleines. An online photo gallery hints at her range, which spans from crusty bread loaves to cakes, cookies, cinnamon rolls and English muffins. She currently uses a restaurant kitchen to bake before fulfilling pickup orders from home, generally within 48 hours. She continues to supply Petit Trois l’Original with bread for their croque madames and croque monsieurs. Email [email protected] to coordinate orders until an online shop goes live.

While You’re Up

Oona O’Toole was working in fine jewelry in DTLA when she got furloughed due to COVID-19. The unexpected job loss freed her up to pursue a longtime dream, launching an “intuitive sourdough micro-bakery” in June. She previously limited bread sales to friends and co-workers. Now a cost-effective Cottage Food Permit allows her to bake from home, producing naturally leavened country loaves, plus focaccia with rotating toppings like Parm + Pep, Tomato + Thyme, and Fig + Honey. She also bakes salty brown butter cookies with Valrhona chocolate and flaky sea salt. Her motto: “While You’re Up…Can You Get Me Some Bread?” While You’re Up bread is available through a Minimart page and on Instagram. O’Toole offers pick-up from her Koreatown apartment and delivers across Los Angeles for $5-$10.

House of Gluten

Hannah Ziskin worked as M. Georgina’s pastry chef before the pandemic hit. She hopes to continue at the restaurant, but the forced hiatus has allowed her to start House of Gluten, baking at home alongside her boyfriend, a private chef and Michigander who runs Detroit-style pizza club Quarter Sheets. As she says, “Together we are quite literally the House of Gluten.” Occasionally, they collaborate on set meals. Ziskin’s baking repertoire currently includes three types of ethereal sourdough, seasonal cakes, chocolate cream and market fruit pies, plus chewy ginger molasses cookies. She also takes requests. House of Gluten breads and cakes are available by contactless pickup or delivery through her MiniMart page.

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Alex P. Davis sourdough | Photo: Joshua Lurie

Alex P. Davis

This UCLA-educated lawyer, Certified Cicerone, and M. Georgina wine director previously discussed opening his own pizzeria. After the ROW DTLA restaurant closed due to COVID-19, he started selling bread and pizza from his Atwater Village home. He’s focused on country loaves, heavy on whole wheat, though he also dabbles with buckwheat and teff sourdough, and bakes market-driven Sunday focaccia pizza. Davis provides Thursday and Sunday pickup, leaving bread packaged and labeled on an outdoor table. There’s no telling how long Davis will run his home bakery. “I’d love to be back as a wine director at some point,” he says, “but I can’t see myself back on the floor of a restaurant until this country, state and county actually get their arms around COVID (which feels a long way off). Things aren’t any safer than they were in March and I can’t imagine feeling like it’s worth the risk of regularly interacting with the public when I have a small child at home. I genuinely miss my job, but I’m doing my best to find other ways to provide hospitality and be of service.” Order through Alex P. Davis’s Linktree page.

RELATED: Making Sourdough? A Local ‘Bread Nerd’ Baked Up a Loaf for the Ages

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