By Crystal Harrell
It is often difficult for new businesses to get even footing when first starting out, but doing so in a pandemic is especially challenging when well-established businesses are also feeling a strain. Despite the obstacles set in place during a less than ideal time, Frank and Briana Caniza have successfully created Bread Song Bakehouse in their own home as a family-run operation.
Their focus is on naturally leavened bread, otherwise more commonly known as sourdough bread. All of the breads at Bread Song Bakehouse are hearth baked, and vary in style and flavor profile. Frank and Briana mill flour from grain in-house, and incorporate it in all of their baked goods at varying percentages. Bread Song offers sandwich-style pan loaves as well as rustic-style loaves. Although the main focus and namesake of the bakery is bread, Bread Song also offers a sourdough banana bread and a sourdough salted chocolate chip cookie, which is quite popular among customers.
Frank has been a self-learning baker for three years. He has perfected his technique and learned most of what he knows from online baking communities, books, and watching YouTube videos.
Bread Song Bakehouse operates under a Cottage Food Operators Class A permit. This kind of permit allows Frank and Briana to operate out of their home kitchen and sell their baked goods directly to consumers. They applied for the permit in February and did not get the final approval until early March. By then, COVID-19 had become a growing worldwide concern and the couple decided to hunker down and wait a couple of months before establishing their bakery.
“It’s hard to gauge the impact due to the fact that we’ve only been operational during the pandemic. I would say that despite the fact that we are only just now getting started, the support has been great. It has really been motivating us to take this seriously and put all of our energy into it,” stated Frank.
The preparation process of the merchandise starts about 36 hours even before the loaves get baked. Before the dough gets mixed, Frank and Briana take a portion of the sourdough culture and build a levain and allow it to ferment for 10 to 12 hours on Thursday night. This is an offshoot of their sourdough culture that will go on to leaven their breads. Friday morning begins by mixing the doughs where they then go through the first stage of fermentation. In the afternoon, the dough is divided, shaped, and put into the fridge. This allows the loaves to slowly ferment during their final proof. It isn’t until Saturday morning that Frank and Briana are up at 4 a.m. to start baking.
“We love the connections we have made with customers and other local food vendors. All of our family and friends have also been incredibly supportive and excited for us throughout this entire process,” said Frank.
In terms of the future, Frank and Briana hope to move into a bigger kitchen and switch over to a Class B permit that will allow them to sell their baked goods at a wholesale level. Those interested can reach out to Bread Song Bakehouse on Instagram, @breadsongbakehouse, for weekly menu updates and information on how to pre-order. Frank and Briana do much of their marketing and promoting through Instagram, but also like to share their process and new menu items they are working on. It has also been a place for them to collaborate with and share other local food businesses in the desert.
“The overall positive feedback we have received from the community has been amazing. Logging onto social media to see people sharing photos of our bread and posting about our bakery brings us great satisfaction. It’s incredibly rewarding to know people are enjoying something we have put our heart into and worked so hard to create,” said Frank.