Most homes do not come with a temperature-controlled freezer, nor do they come with multiple stone ovens. On the other hand, most people do not dedicate three rooms in their house to storing smooth, sticky fermented bread cakes.
When Jesse Helen-Lloyd started baking bread in 2015, he did not expect his home in Bellflower to become the headquarters of a thriving bread business: My Brother Baker.
“I love being in the middle of it. I don’t notice it that much, “said Helen-Lloyd. “But from time to time my landlord, who lives in the front house, will tell me how good it smells.”
On Wednesday morning, June 1, he was busy working, folding a large tub of sticky white dough that would become the baker’s popular rustic bread, “plain American rustic sourdough,” he said. “It’s not something exquisite, but it’s fermented slowly and super tasty, very useful. He walks miles. ”
He was joined by Chief Baker Michael Siemens and Assistant Jojo, who mixed, shaped and cooled loaves in a coordinated dance as they slipped through the narrow corridors of the bakery in the garage.
In the late hours of the night, Helen-Lloyd’s wife, Christina, pulled the ball-shaped loaves of dough, tray by tray, into the three ovens to bake. Early in the morning she would knead baguette dough. This is a round-the-clock operation.
“Baking is 99% science and 1% black magic,” said Siemens, who joined the team in July 2020. He is the leader in bakery pastries such as flaky croissants and chocolates sold at the Bixby Knolls farm market every Thursday. .
A former chef who lost all three jobs in the kitchen during the pandemic, he also sold bread from his house. When Helen-Lloyd saw her focaccia on Instagram, he invited Siemens to help him with the business.
“I was in love, like, ‘You built a bakery in your garage?'” Siemens said. “It was so inspiring how they coped with how they built this bakery. I just started to really believe that. “
Helen-Lloyd, a trained sound engineer, began baking bread when inspired by the extensive offerings of bakeries in San Francisco. At the time, he was working in the music industry, but he always had the ability to experiment – before that with beer, pickles and cheese. He took some literature on the subject and began to bake.
“There are many concepts that interact very closely in this type of dance, between time and temperature and development and fermentation,” said Helen-Lloyd. “Realizing this with natural fermentation when I first started, he was a beast.”
It took about a year and a half to bake before he could do something he was proud of, Helen-Lloyd said. He then began bringing extra bread to his local poyka, the Heritage Sandwich Shop.
“The kitchen came across one at a time, and I think the next time I came in, two of the line’s chefs got to work with me and said, ‘This is amazing. “I like him, he’s so good, super kind,” he said.
Shortly afterwards, he contacted the chef and won his first official client.
Now, instead of working harder, he works with flour and yeast.
It will take a year for Hey Brother Baker to get his second client, Solid Coffee Roasters at Artesia. From there, the business grows organically.
In Long Beach, his breads are scattered throughout the city: breads at Commodity LB on Atlantic Avenue, Ethikli: free goods on E 4th Street and Heritage Sandwich Shop on 7th Street; baguettes and chabata in Oh La Vache on 4th Street; and sourdough and brioche in the Berlin bistro on 4th Street, not to mention their distribution at the Bixby Knolls farmers market.
“I have watched this happen for the last decade. It’s like a manufacturer’s renaissance. “People like the idea that the things they eat are carefully made by someone close to them,” said Helen-Lloyd. “And it’s not just pumped from a machine in a factory. I think bread makes it easy to make a difference. ”
Although their bakery is currently crammed into Helen-Lloyd’s house, he hopes to move the operation to a commercial kitchen, but is waiting for the right moment.
“If someone was going to be a fly on the wall in our bakery, they would be absolutely disappointed with what we can do,” Siemens said. “It just makes me excited, I’m very proud of what we do.
For more information on Hey Brother Baker, including the farmers market chart, follow them on @heybrotherbaker’s Instagram.