Throughout the pandemic, many people have learned different skills and taken on projects to help keep the days interesting. One of the most popular hobbies of the pandemic is learning how to bake bread. You probably noticed that everyone you know has dabbled in bread baking — that was made especially obvious when grocery stores were constantly running out of items like flour and yeast — but how many people baked bread that was actually good?
The hobby might have been short-lived once some realized how much science goes into the process. And after spending hours, days or even weeks trying to perfect it, they may have realized it’s worth it to leave the bread baking to the professionals. Luckily, Golden’s Grateful Bread has shifted its focus from selling bread to restaurants to selling directly to retail customers so you can enjoy fresh pastries, loaves and pretzels from the comfort of your own home.
When Jeff Cleary and Kathy Mullen started Grateful Bread in 2005, they were solely operating in the wholesale space. Their goal was to provide the best handmade artisan bread to local restaurants and they proved very successful at it. “Everything we make is by hand, we don’t use any machines,” said Mullen, “When we would go to these baking expos everybody would ask us how many production lines we had. When we responded with ‘none’ they would look at us like we were crazy.”
Cleary even mills specialty flour on an Austrian grain mill he’s had for over six years in order to reduce waste. “Flour has a shelf life of a few months but the wheat berries and grains can last decades if they’re stored properly,” said Cleary. He uses the mill to grind the exact amount of flour he needs for a special order of something like rye, emmer, spelt or barley then ages the flour for 18 to 24 days so the gluten can develop. “There’s a lot of science that goes into it,” said Mullen.
Since March 2020, Grateful Bread has been producing more products for retail customers than wholesale customers due to many restaurants closing temporarily or — in some cases — permanently. “We used to buy flour every week and now we’re buying the same amount every two weeks,” said Cleary. In order to make up for the loss of wholesale customers, Cleary and Mullen have turned to retail sales. Now that most of the bread is being baked for customers to consume directly, they are able to try new recipes and offer more variation. You’ll see pastries like lemon danishes, sticky buns, shortbread cookies and maple pecan snickerdoodle cookies along with signature items like ciabatta, jalapeño cheddar batard and rosemary sea salt sourdough.
Customers have two options for enjoying Grateful Bread’s delicious offerings: place a pre-order via Grateful Bread’s website between Friday at 10 a.m. and Monday at 10 p.m. for pickup the following Thursday between 2 and 5 p.m. or go to the bakery in person on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and choose from a variety of sourdoughs, pastries and pretzels. Saturdays tend to get busy though — Mullen said that customers begin to line up more than an hour before the bakery opens to make sure the largest selection is available when it’s their turn. “Even when it was really cold a couple weeks ago we had a line around the building. But in the summer it’s a fun time, people bring chairs and hangout while they wait,” said Mullen.
In the future, Cleary hopes to teach baking and cooking classes at Grateful Bread. He built a classroom with residential-grade ovens — rather than commercial — so that students can learn how to bake on equipment they would use at home. Stay tuned for when classes become available by signing up for Grateful Bread’s email list.
While Grateful Bread has had a bumpy 2020, the silver lining is that its customers can now purchase its delicious breads and pastries directly from the bakery. And for that, we’re very grateful.
Grateful Bread is located at 425 Violet St, Golden. Retail hours are Saturday 10 a.m. — 2:30 p.m. and pre-order pickup is Thursday 2 — 5 p.m.