Being raised in the grain capital of United States (Wichita) , I was quite accustomed to driving past rows and rows of red winter wheat glowing gold and blowing in the summer wind as it was being harvested in the mid-June heat.
I always wondered what this grain would become. Would it end up in a central mill being turned into a all-purpose flour? Or would this grain end up in the hands of a skilled artisan who would transform that grain into an incredibly crafted loaf of bread or pastry?
While visiting San Fransisco several years back, we stopped at Boudin Bakery. I stared in amazement at the walls lined with naturally leavened breads still crackling from the steaming oven. As I stared I wondered, “Why doesn’t the Midwest have incredible bread like this? Why aren’t those golden rows of wheat being utilized in the community in which it’s being grown?” Back home in Kansas City, the thought of those crackling, steaming loaves stuck in the back of my mind.
Eager to get my fix of crusty hearth-baked bread, I dove into researching where I could find that crust that I desired. I started asking co-workers and friends and was told over and over again to visit Fervere Bakery on the West Side. I was told I had to visit the bakery early to beat the swarms of customers that flocked from the far corners of Kansas City.
As I stepped into the bakery early on a Saturday, dodging the crowds of customers, I found a shelf mounted on a rustic brick wall. The shelf was stacked full of fresh bread, and the air was permeated with the smell of toasted flour and grains emerging from the Alan Scott-designed masonry oven.
I knew then Kansas City had more to offer than what met the eye. Since that experience, I have covered every corner of Kansas City and the surrounding areas to discover what local bakers have to offer.
Below are some Kansas City area bakeries that offer incredible breads.
Address: 12817 W. 87th St. Parkway, Lenexa
Ibis Bakery specializes in naturally leavened breads produced over a 30-hour period using a sourdough culture. Ibis has a selection of breads and pastries available Wednesday through Saturday. Pizza nights are Tuesdays from 6 to 8.
Address: 1702 Summit St.
Fervere is nestled in a brick-walled building neighboring Blue Bird Bistro. The bakers at Fervere have an array of fresh, naturally leavened breads available Thursday through Saturday.
Hearth Bread Co.
Address: 17985 Route 45 North, Weston
Hearth Bread Co. offers a selection of naturally leavened, wood-fired breads available Wednesday through Saturday. Hearth also has a selection of wood-fired pastry items, including Saturday morning doughnuts and fritters.
Address: 1900 Barker Ave., Lawrence
Located in the Barker neighborhood, the converted laundromat is a light and airy space with shelves of fresh, naturally leavened breads, served alongside freshly brewed coffee. Be sure to make the drive down Interstate 70 from Kansas City to check out this neighborhood bakery, open from Tuesday to Saturday.
Address: 904 Vermont St., Lawrence
Wheatfields, a Lawrence staple for years, has a wide selection of breads available daily, alongside an ever-changing pastry lineup. Wheatfields’ bread is baked in a wood-fired masonry oven, then pulled and positioned on shelves feet away from the rounded exterior of the oven. Wheatfields is open seven days a week.
Heirloom Bakery and Hearth
Address: 401 E 63rd St.
Heirloom Bakery is in an incredibly beautiful space carved from a converted garage. Heirloom features an open bakeshop within arm’s reach of pastry and bread displays. Heirloom offers 2-6 varieties of bread daily, accompanied by a pastry lineup. Open from Tuesday to Sunday.
Dylan Low is a 22-year-old pastry chef who trained at the Culinary Institute of America in Napa Valley, Calif. He is the owner and founder of Hearth Bread Co. in Weston.