Superior sourdough | Short order blog


Jeff Laine didn’t start experimenting with sourdough in the first wave of the pandemic when homemade bread became fashionable. However, after losing her job in food science due to COVID cuts at a spice company, baking breads became her main source of dough. With years of experience developing recipes, he figured the style of bread most closely associated with San Francisco couldn’t be too hard to perfect.

“I started baking bread to make ends meet at home, and I was so blown away by the quality of the sourdough bread,” says Laine. “Most of the country doesn’t eat sourdough and doesn’t even know it. If they do, it’s probably wrong and the producer is just adding acetic acid to make it taste sour.

Laine started her business delivering loaves to a few dozen homes around town, unsure how to turn her new talent into a full-fledged way to pay the bills. The taste of his sourdough was still there, but it took him a year to figure out how to ensure a beautiful exterior every time.

After that, business really started to boom.

“I went from baking in my kitchen, to my garage, to my wife saying, ‘Get this out of my house! he says.

His brother-in-law at the time, also an entrepreneur, believed in Laine’s ability to turn his superior sourdough creations into a career and helped secure him a three-year lease on the current location of Europa Crust, a low-key storefront at 14th and Main at Shockoe Slip.

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When Laine chose the name European crust, the aim was to convey the crispness, chewiness and quality that mainland bread connotes. This week marks one year since the founding of the bakery. Currently, Laine’s only staff consists of her family and a full-time baker. As Europa Crust gets closer to producing 1,000 loaves a week, Laine is already thinking about expanding her business.

With spots at farmers markets in Bryan Park, City Stadium and On The Square – not to mention pending vendor spots in Williamsburg, Charlottesville and Woodbridge, the demand for increased production is already there. Last weekend, Europa Crust sold 120 loaves in four hours in Bryan Park.

“Farmers markets are really our priority,” says Laine. “The ultimate goal is to have a road truck that delivers about 100 to 150 loaves of bread per day. In the long term, we are looking to move production from this facility to something real with platform heights. We want to serve as large a community as possible. »

Although Europa Crust’s bread-making style has a sour name, that doesn’t mean that all of the bakery’s creations have a sour side.

“Sourdough baking is a misnomer,” says Laine. “While most bakers get up at two in the morning to prepare everything they want to sell when they open their doors that day, we mix everything the night before and put them in the fridge just when they start. to rise, which slows the process, letting the flavors get better and stronger.This is absolutely the tastiest bread you will ever eat.

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For lovers of classic sourdough, Europa Crust offers three varieties. San Francisco sourdough is an all-white bread made with a starter named Henry from the Golden State. French sourdough is a take on Boulangerie Poilâne’s iconic creations which the Parisian bakery sells over 5,000 loaves of bread every day. The 50% whole grain also gives this bread a deeper flavor. Finally, the rye sourdough makes a perfect base for a pastrami or a ruben sandwich.

Europa Crust also sells a few varieties that you would never know came from a sourdough process. Combining the five grains of sunflower seeds, oats, rye, white flour and flaxseed results in a bread that is “like a meal in itself, it’s so filling,” according to Laine. The preparation of rustic Italian starts with pounding chunks of sea salt imported from France and ends with bread which is good for dipping and excellent for pasta. If you like this bread but want it smaller, try the baguette.

A surprising hit on the menu is a cardamom braided sweet bread, a Finnish coffee staple that Laine made as a little tribute to her grandparents. Although Europa Crust never sells cakes or croissants, Laine is working on Japanese milk bread rolls to sell during the upcoming holiday season. Pain au chocolat, sliced ​​bread, and green olive breads are also on the experimentation list.

Laine credits her ability to play so freely with different flavors and shapes of breads to her background in food science: “You have to have a brain like a scientist in this because it’s half scientific and half artistic.”

Europa Crust is located at 1321 1/2 E Main St. ste 111 in Richmond, although there is no food service. For more information, visit their website.

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Europa Crust exterior at 1321 1/2 E. Main St. - SCOTT ELMQUIST

  • Scott Elmquist
  • Exterior of Europa Crust at 1321 1/2 E. Main St.

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