Heirloom Bread Co.: Baking The Best Of A Bad Situation

January 29th, 2024
Lauren Leone
Read Time: 7 Minutes
Meet Simply Bread Co customer Kevin Grenz (@MeloBread)

Heirloom Bread Co.: Baking The Best Of A Bad Situation

January 29th, 2024
Lauren Leone
Read Time: 7 Minutes

When Jacqueline Loomis gave birth to her daughter, it was life-changing in ways she never could have predicted. What should have been the happiest moment in her life was forever altered by a botched epidural, leaving her with a disability that still affects her to this day.

Jacqueline, a resilient single homeschool mom from Redlands, CA, is proving anything is possible. After the traumatic birth of her daughter Sadie, Jacqueline was left bedridden with a spinal cord injury that affected her right leg. “I was in a really rough spot for many years,” said Jacqueline."

Two years ago, Jacqueline began searching for a way she could make extra income despite her disability. Her requirements were simple; it had to work with her homeschool schedule - she wanted to work from home, and she wanted the ability to prioritize her health.

Taking Up Baking

Having never been a big cook or baker, and with a desire to show her daughter something out of the norm, Jacqueline decided to take up bread baking. “I felt like I needed to do something important, something that I can help others with,” said Jacqueline.

Wanting to avoid baking with eggs and butter, Jacqueline poured her newfound passion for baking into classic sourdough. She started with a single recipe she found online and quickly became obsessed, despite her numerous failed attempts. Baking even invaded her dreams, and she questioned how this hobby had quickly become an obsession. She described achieving success, only to be followed by a couple of failures, before finding small successes again.

As she got better at baking, Jacqueline began giving away her loaves to friends and family and sharing her passion for baking on social media. She was dubbed the ‘bread lady’ in her area and became known for her sourdough bread. “It brought so much joy and I decided I was going to bake as much as I could and master it,” she said. Feeding people good food filled her need for a passion project, but she didn’t have plans to slow down.

She named her micro bakery Heirloom Bread Co. after her last name Loomis. Jacqueline, inspired by tradition and family, wanted a name that resonated with her family, and something she could pass on to her daughter when the time came. “My mom and daughter both help out with the bread and I feel like it’s a tradition of heritage,” she said.

One Dutch oven turned into two, and she was turning out 12-16 loaves in a single day. Spending 6-7 hours each day baking, Jacqueline decided to look into kitchen upgrades to save herself some time and make it easier with her disability. She decided to dive into the world of microbaking and ordered her very own Simply Bread Oven. “I felt like one of my gifts was making this bread and sharing it with others, and I realized I wanted to do it on a larger scale,” she said.

A Day In The Life Of A Micro Baker

It takes a week of work to prepare for her porch pickups on Friday. Jacqueline shares her weekly menu on social media over the weekend and gives her customers till Tuesday to place their orders. Wednesday is the designated prep day, and Jacqueline sets herself up by measuring out her ingredients and feeding her starter. Thursday has been named ‘Dough Day’ and is spent bulk fermenting, shaping, and refrigerating. Friday morning needs an early start to bake everything. The rest of the day is spent packaging her loaves and getting them ready to be picked up by happy customers.

Jacqueline provides her customers with a unique and memorable experience during porch pickups. She plays music from the 1920s and 30s and provides her customers with a vintage experience that leaves a smile on their faces. She even has a box for children to pick out small toys for themselves.

She prides herself on her high-quality ingredients and shared that she handpicks the herbs for her loaves from the garden in her backyard. She also creates her own flour blend using 4-5 different flours, and uses reverse osmosis filtered water to maximize the purity.

Her micro bakery’s weekly menu typically consists of a classic artisan loaf, a rosemary and olive loaf, jalapeno and cheddar, and her favorite loaf, her celebration sourdough.

Her celebration sourdough is a vibrant and colorful loaf with sprinkles as an inclusion, and it’s a customer favorite as well. “It’s so fun to see pictures of kids with their celebration sourdough as part of their birthday breakfast,” she said. “My customers love it,”.

Some of her favorite interactions with customers were when gluten-sensitive people who hadn’t been able to eat bread before were able to eat her bread. She also shared her joy and amazement that she has customers with diabetes and that their blood sugar doesn’t spike when they eat her bread. “It’s amazing because that’s why I use the highest quality ingredients,” she said.

“It warms my heart to make real, healthy bread for people.”

The Highs and Lows Of Being A Micro Baker

Reflecting on the past two years, the biggest challenge Jacqueline has faced has been balancing her everyday life with homeschooling Sadie and her extracurricular activities.

“It’s the rhythm of being a single mom and trying to do everything else at the same time,” she said. “When you’re a one-woman show, it’s hard to bake and be mom, it’s all about balance,”.

Her experience as a microbaker has been equally as rewarding. Pulling off her first farmer’s market was something she didn’t think she could do by herself. After baking more than she had ever baked in her life, Jacqueline was counting on her mom to help her set up her farmer's market stand. When her mom got sick that day, Jacqueline had to take matters into her own hands despite her disability. The day turned out to be a massive success, with Jacqueline selling every loaf, and leaving with a sense of accomplishment.

Another accomplishment was an unexpected surprise when Jacqueline realized she had gone viral on social media. She had posted a few reels of her vibrant celebration sourdough loaf, and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive. “People began tagging me and thanking me for the recipe idea,” she said.

Advice Learned Along The Way

When asked about her social media success, Jacqueline emphasized showing her followers the honest reality of being a micro baker. From good bake days to bad bake days, her audience sees it all. “You don’t have to be perfect,” she said.

“There are days when I have my hair in a clip and no makeup on, but people still follow me and watch what I’m doing,”. She shared she offers tips and tricks to her followers as well, and encourages them to follow their baking passions, stating if she can do it, then so can they.

She also advised aspiring microbakers to practice one recipe at a time until it’s been mastered instead of jumping from recipe to recipe. “Don’t focus on tips and tricks; just follow one recipe until you get an idea of how to read your dough,” said Jacqueline.

Speaking from her personal experience, Jacqueline shared her struggle of failing recipe after recipe, feeling deflated and not wanting to try again. If she had to do it all again, she would have signed up for a class to cut out weeks and months of frustration and experimentation.

The Future Of Heirloom

Looking at what the new year has to offer, Jacqueline hopes to increase her weekly porch pickups and continue to serve her community and church with good bread. She plans to offer baking classes in the future to teach aspiring bakers how to make good bread from home.

She also shared her baking goal is to add baguettes to her micro bakery menu. Learning from past experiences, she plans on hiring a mentor to save precious time.

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