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For artisan breadmaker, it’s all in a dough’s work

Nathan and Alice Shreve sell hand-made loaves at farmers market, area stores
By: Gloria Young Home & Garden
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Nathan and Alice Shreve’s freshly baked artisan breads and pastries have gained a loyal following in the seven short months the couple has had a booth at the Auburn Farmers Market. But food has always been a big part of Alice Shreve’s life. Growing up in Auburn, her parents, Pete and Pat Enochs, have been in the restaurant business for 35 years and own Latitudes in Old Town. “I’ve always liked to cook,” Shreve said. “(At the restaurant) I would stand on a 5-gallon bucket with my dad and chop vegetables with him before I could even reach the counter.” After graduating from Placer High School, Shreve headed east to study at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y. That’s where she and Nathan met. After graduation in 2002, the two chefs continued to hone their skills in Texas and then in the Bay Area. It was during his time working in a Bay Area bakery that Nathan discovered how much he enjoyed baking. Then, a five-month backpacking trek through Europe gave the Shreves the opportunity to taste a lot of bread. As backpackers, they did a lot of walking. Along the way, they’d frequently stop at bakeries. “We visited 14 countries and focused on France, Italy, Spain, Belgium and Portugal,” Alice said. “We walked and ate our way through Europe.” Back in the U.S., when the Shreves decided to start a family, Alice knew she wanted to raise her children in Auburn. Preparations for opening the bakery took about a year — finding a suitable commercial kitchen (in North Auburn) and then refitting it with specialized equipment “We’re using an Italian-style hearth oven,” Shreve said. “You bake right on the oven base. We had to knock out a wall to get it in. It is about 15 feet tall, 6 feet wide and 20 feet long. All the bread is baked in that.” The loaves that come out of the oven are unique, too. Nathan Shreve creates 12 different kinds including the epis — a baguette shaped like a wheat stalk. “It’s popular for parties — a very festive looking baguette,” Alice said. Their most popular seller is the meyer lemon rosemary bread. ”It has meyer lemon zest and rosemary just under the crust with a little coarse sea salt on top,” she said. Another favorite is the seed wheat bread. “(It’s) a whole wheat bread with roasted pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, flax and polenta,” Alice said. “It’s a hearty breakfast bread because it has so much nutrients in it.” Recent additions to the selection include ciabatta and kalamata loaf. Each week, they feature all 12 of the breads at the farmers market, as well as scones, cookies and muffins. “The farmers market is great. That’s where we sell most of our bread,” Alice said. “We sell out often. We have our regular customers who come to the market every week and we’ve gotten to know them.” They even barter bread for vegetables from other vendors. “It’s just a great community around the farmers market,” she said. “It’s amazing how well Auburn supports it.” The secret to producing good bread is using high quality ingredients and a good oven, she said. Typically, Nathan makes the dough in the afternoon. Then they shape the loaves in the evening. “It’s really hands on,” Alice said. Nathan uses a sourdough starter. “His baby is keeping the sourdough starter as a perfect happiness,” Alice said. Alice makes all the pastries. Hence the name of the business — The Baker & the Cakemaker The apricot scones are a top seller along with the cinnamon swirl muffins. “It’s like the inside of a cinnamon roll, but in muffin form,” Alice said. With peaches in season, she’s also making peach muffins. “We’re trying to use farmers market ingredients (whenever possible),” she said. Eventually they’d like to add croissants to the repertoire. Besides selling at the farmers market, the Shreves’ baked goods are available at Ikeda’s in Auburn, Newcastle Produce in Newcastle, the Blue Goose in Loomis and at businesses in Grass Valley and Nevada City. As they celebrate one year in business this month, they’re planning for the future. “Our ultimate goal is to have a retail spot to have a good cup of coffee and a croissant,” Alice said. “We have to find the right spot because it needs to be in Auburn.” At Ikeda’s in Bowman, Glen Ikeda said he carries the Shreves’ bread not only to support a local producer, but because of the high quality of the product. “When (the Enochs) said their daughter and her husband were going to start an artisan bread company, I was really excited because there‘s no one who does that in Auburn,” Ikeda said. “Then when they came out with the samples, (the bread ranks up there with the other great artisan bread makers.” The bread is popular with customers, too. “(Many of) our customers are not local,” Ikeda said. “They’re coming from the Bay Area and they’re used to that kind of artisan bread — the top brands. If you can compete against them, you’re doing well. (Customers) have come into our store from San Francisco and Berkeley and said ‘this bread is fantastic.’ On their way to Tahoe and coming back, they buy it on the way up and then going home. “That gives Nathan and Alice more of a gut check on how their bread compares to top end artisan bread company. They can go head to head.” Reach Gloria Young at gloriay @goldcountrymedia.com. ------------ The Baker and the cakemaker Owners: Nathan and Alice Shreve Website: thebakerandthecakemaker.com Where to find it: • Blue Goose Produce, 3550 Taylor Road, Loomis • Newcastle Produce, 9230 Cypress St., Newcastle • Ikeda’s, 13500 Lincoln Way, Auburn • Sunrise Natural Foods, 2160 Grass Valley Highway, Auburn • Auburn Farmers Market Also available in Nevada City and Grass Valley