By November 14, 2019 0 Comments Read More →

FoodView – Alchemy Bread

By Abigail Murphy

Alchemy Bread’s Bonnie Ohara

“If you think Modesto doesn’t have artists, musicians, or culture, come to Saturday Bread.” Bonnie Ohara, owner of Alchemy Bread and self-taught sourdough bread baker, says the community of other artisans in Modesto is at the heart of what she loves about her bakery. “A lot of the people that supported me from the beginning are the other people that make stuff. The people that make soap, that roast coffee, that make music and art…” These are the first people in line on Saturday to pick up their fresh bread. “We all support each other. It’s not about the bread and cinnamon rolls, it’s about people meeting each other. It’s a place to be together.”

Alchemy Bread started when Bonnie noticed how much bread her three kids could eat each week. Bonnie thought that she could save money by learning how to make her own, so she took a trip to the Stanislaus County Library, checked out some bread baking books, and made bread every single day until she got really good at it. What started with a simple loaf for her kids’ PB&J’s has become a world of baguettes, challah, brioche, and ciabatta. When asked where she got the name “Alchemy Bread” she said she was inspired by the age-old scientific pursuit of combining air, water, earth, and fire to transform lead into gold. “A lot of my origin is turning nothing into something. I turned not having enough money for food into bread and turned bread into this business. You are taking something that could not sustain you on its own and making it into something that fills you with joy through a magical process.”

Bonnie began to post on social media and started a blog which gained organic attention and popularity because of one fact: people love bread. She posted new recipes, beautiful designs, tips and tricks and one day was approached by a publisher with the idea to write a book! Bread Baking for Beginners was released in October of 2018 and has quickly become a national sensation. Organized in order of difficulty, with her book you can start by learning how to bake a perfect loaf and eventually learn the art of the French baguette and braided challah. We asked if we could quickly learn to make a baguette by the holidays, but Bonnie gave us some bad news. “Baguettes are the last chapter. They are so hard. It probably took me about 500 baguettes before I felt like I was making beautiful baguettes that I would feel comfortable charging people money for. They’re so simple, they’re difficult. They should have a thin, crisp crust, airy inside, and a nice nutty flavor, never squishy.” Though her freshly baked breads and goodies are only available to Modesto locals, her recipes are being made by bread lovers across the country including celebrities like Jenna Fischer.

Alchemy Bread offers monthly subscription boxes, brand new classes, and epic merch that features Modesto, CA in the logo that have been sent around the world. She shares all the information for her new schedule and menus on her social media channels like Facebook, Instagram, and her website. But you better hurry! “When I upload anything on my website, I always post to Instagram and Facebook. It’s first come, first serve for all of our classes and subscription boxes, so they often sell out. I recommend putting on notifications and alerts for social media posts so you know right away when there’s something new.”

Every Saturday at noon, Bonnie hosts Saturday Bread at her home. Folks line up along the block to try her fresh bakes of the week while catching up with their friends and neighbors in the community. Saturday Bread is open to all and is the highlight of every week. What could be better than a trip to the farmers market and a stop at Bonnie’s to round out the perfect weekend morning? When Bonnie hosted her first class in October, she noted that there was only one person from Modesto, while all the others came from over an hour and a half away with copies of her book to be signed! Modesto, let’s get our notifications turned on and show up to Saturday Bread. Let’s show support and appreciation for people like Bonnie who love Modesto and work tirelessly to give our community a positive, creative reputation. These are the gems of our community, so spread the word and get out there and eat (and maybe even learn to bake!) delicious bread. Sign up for a class today!

12th St Modesto 209-900-3727



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