If you’re looking for fresh baked bread and delightful english muffins, Leaven Breads will be your one-stop-shop at HOPE Farmers Market this next weekend. Come by and say hello to Wimberley native Pete McDonald, who is an engineering student at ACC and owner of Leaven Breads.
Leaven Breads got started following an injury about a year ago, when Pete was looking for a suitable hobby to keep him occupied indoors. Luckily for us, he stumbled upon bread making. He was initially intrigued due to it’s simplicity: one can simply take three ingredients- flour, water, and salt- and create something that is not only food, but delicious! This fundamental characteristic is something that Pete has strived for since beginning his bread making journey, and is even the company’s slogan: “As Simple As Bread Can Be”. In the early stages, Pete set out to create a loaf that could stand on it’s own without anything else, which he says he’s done with his country loaf. After trying it myself, it’s no wonder why it’s a crowd favorite. You wouldn’t know his attitude towards bread is simple after trying it’s fluffiness and texture.
Pete says that what he really loves about bread making is that in order to create something that looks and tastes good, you have to know your bread. And knowing your bread comes through great trial and error, as Pete humbly admits. It may sound simple, but the process of turning three ingredients into the delicious bread we get to eat today can get complicated. This is because due to the yeast used, bread is alive, which is another aspect that fascinates Pete about his hobby.
So why the name Leaven Breads? Making the leaven is the most important part of the bread making process, and is the step which is necessary for bread to rise. (If you’ve ever had matzo, you’ve tried an unleavened bread). And something Pete prides himself on is that his bread is naturally leavened with yeast he makes at home, as opposed to using dry active yeast, the ingredient commonly used in store bought bread. Pete says dry active yeast is used because it’s quick, but what you save in time you pay for in quality. (We’re looking at you, Wonder bread!) Because Pete’s bread is naturally leavened, it’s healthier and more easily digestible, allowing for your stomach to better absorb enzymes.
Leaven Breads has been at HOPE for 8 months, and Pete enjoys the market for the same reasons I do: the laidback atmosphere, live music, those familiar friendly faces, and that real sense of community. He doesn’t see himself leaving us anytime soon (whew!) but does have ideas for the future. Like many small businesses that start out of home, Pete says getting his own kitchen would allow him to pursue more long term goals, like getting his bread into restaurants. Always looking for improvement, he says he wants to get better while exploring new ingredients and flavors, as well as introducing baguettes and a few surprises into his growing selection. Ideally, Pete aims to get his own bakery and employ special needs workers, having known individuals with special needs for much of his life. Pete sees bread making as an all inclusive activity, and can be a great way to empower those with special needs.
If you don’t get to Leaven Breads on Sundays, you can find Pete at the Wimberley Farmer’s Market on Wednesdays from 3-6, on the Leaven Breads Faceook page, or purchase his delicacies at www.bountifulsprout.com.
I’m Stephen. Environmental activist, world traveller, and strong proponent of the local food movement! I started volunteering at HOPE in January, and have loved every minute of it. When I’m not at HOPE, I’m most likely eating, cooking, or doing some form of exercise. (And binge-watching shows on Netflix in between, of course) I’ll be writing more of these blog posts in the future, so I hope you liked it. Thanks for reading!