Artisanal bread has deep roots in Seattle’s food culture; Essential Baking has been making organic hearth breads here since 1998, and Grand Central (based in Portland, Oregon) arrived to open its first Seattle bakery in 1989. But since Columbia City Bakery—maker of what many consider the best breads in Seattle—opened a decade ago, there’s been a carb-fearing, gluten-avoiding lull. Until now.
Meet the slew of bakers carrying the movement into its next wild and yeasty phase.
At Franz Gilbertson’s marvelous Honore Bakery in Ballard (1413 NW 70th St.; 206.706.4035; honorebakery.com), the relatively new breads are worth investigating. Especially outstanding is his pain au levain , an open- and damp-crumb loaf (moist, with lots of holes) with an intoxicating sour flavor ($7.50). Also on offer: a crusty baguette to which even purists will give an approving nod ($5) and a tender olive oil brioche ($6.50).
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Kit and Jesse Schumann started Sea Wolf, their bread bakery (seawolfbakers.com) in 2014, baking loaves in cast-iron pans in the Boat Street Cafe’s ovens during off-hours, which were then sold to The Whale Wins and The Walrus and the Carpenter oyster bar. The brothers will debut a brick-and-mortar space opening this June (planned for 3617 Stone Way N), from which you’ll be able to purchase three bread varieties: their light sourdough loaf (found at Whale Wins) with a closed crumb ($7), a coffee-caraway-rye pullman loaf (our favorite, $9) and a multigrain seeded variety ($10).
There’s a cult following for The London Plane bakery’s (Pioneer Square, 300 Occidental Ave. S; 206.624.1374; londonplaneseattle.com) deeply burnished sourdough loaves ($8 for a large 2-pound loaf), Plane Bread & which are given a long, slow rise time and are shaped by hand by baker Michael Sanders in a windowed corner of the Pioneer Square café and shop. Loaves are available to pick up after 11 a.m., Tuesday–Saturday.