A Mountain of Bread at Alpine
by Shawn Erin
It is wonderful to watch the seasons change in Spokane. The turning leaves of century-old trees add brightness to the well-weathered bricks of same-age buildings. And while your senses tour the visual luster, take a deep breath. In the Courthouse District north of the river you will smell the earthiness of the foliage mix with the sun, snow or occasional rain, smell sweet cinnamon, smell spicy espresso, smell fresh baked bread.
For the last nine years owners Nicole and Carl Burgi of Alpine Bakery Company have added to the olfactory atmosphere of Spokane almost 24 hours a day.
The Mead, Wash. residents rolled their first dough when Nicole Burgi jokingly suggested they buy the donut shop down the street from their home. Nifty Fifties Donuts & Espresso sold the same fare as the name suggests. The Burgis had never baked more than the average household, but Nicole Burgi said her husband has taken to baking naturally. Good thing, too, as two months of training by the previous owners of the donut shop was cut short to two days!
"Carl is intuitive with his baking. He picks it up and it comes out wonderfully," Nicole Burgi said.
After several years at the donut shop, Nicole Burgi said the family outgrew the space, and the name.
They eventually found the former Genova Bakery and Fugazzi Bistro, closed for a time, but once an established bakery with about 100 customers and an attached restaurant. A weathering metal plaque on the brick wall by the storefront reveals the name of the Jenkins Building and that it was built in 1910.
Alpine's 10 person crew may sound like a lot for a bakery, but much of their success is due to big output.
Last fall, the bistro part of the business was re-designated as a gluten-free bakery. A second location for sales and distribution was closed. By focusing on production and less on direct sales, Alpine Bakery has increased its market reach, Burgi said.
"We are a small bakery, we make almost everything by hand, we're not an automated machine! We don't stick flour in one end and the bread comes out in a bag on the other," Nicole explained.
Two tons of Shepherd’s Grain flour are sourced weekly from a local no-till farmer co-op. Maninis Gluten Free Flour Mix is used for their gluten-free line, and is also free of rice, soy and dairy. Organic spelt is the only farro grain – so far – utilized at the bakery. Alpine Bakery aspires to use as much local grain products and as little preservatives and additives as economically feasible.
“We don't do any other farro grain (than spelt). We primarily supply restaurant and those types of bread aren't in high demand... I think ancient grains haven't gotten their time in the spotlight yet, with all their benefits and history,” Burgi said.
Burgi said their healthy ingredients and the fact that a chef can call in orders the day before gives them an advantage over their competitors.
Alpine Bakery products can be found on the table of all four Davenport Hotel restaurants, at five more hotels and a total of 100 restaurants in Spokane. The gluten-free line is also sold by the case to a large grocery distributor. You will find their artisan bread, pastries or hoagies at farmers markets from Green Bluff to Blaine and all the way down to Portland, Ore.
As the seasons change from white to green again, join the Burgis in the celebrations of all the holidays with never-enough bread!
And although the bistro is closed, trust your nose, you will still find traditional and gluten-free loaves, danishes and espresso at the Alpine Grind 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. The cafe is located in the front of the old bistro.
It's a Burgi family affair at Alpine Bakery for Nicole, Doug, Kyle and Carl.
Photos courtesy of Alpine Bakery
© 2014 Lentz Spelt Farms
Enjoy this spelt bread recipe courtesy of Alpine Bakery! A printable version can be found at Resurgentgrains.com
Courtesy of Alpine Bakery Company, Spokane, Wash.
3-2/3 cups Lentz Spelt Flour
3/4 cup unbleached flour
2 tsp salt
2 tbs flax seed
1/4 cup honey
1/8 cup molasses
4 tsp SAF Instant Yeast
1-1/2 tbs shortening
1-1/2 cups warm water
Put warm water in mixer bowl and dissolve yeast for about 10 minutes. Add all remaining ingredients, using dough hook, mix until dough is smooth and elastic.
Cover bowl with a cloth and keep in a warm place until double in size.
Shape into loaf and place in a 9x5 greased loaf pan. Put loaf pan in warm place covered and let rise.
Bake @ 350 for about 30-35 minutes.