Cathie Anderson

Why this cottage baker’s crusty sourdough developed such a following in Sacramento

Artisanal baker in Sacramento obsessed with best sourdough at Drunken Loaf

Cottage baker Davy Bui kicked his wife out of the kitchen in their Sacramento home as he went on a quest to produce the best rustic sourdough he could. He began selling his artisanal loaves at the Oak Park Farmers Market this past spring. He calls
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Cottage baker Davy Bui kicked his wife out of the kitchen in their Sacramento home as he went on a quest to produce the best rustic sourdough he could. He began selling his artisanal loaves at the Oak Park Farmers Market this past spring. He calls

Davy Bui’s passion for rustic sourdough fermented for years before he began selling his artisanal loaves at the Oak Park Farmers Market this past spring.

“I got inspired by reading a Michael Pollan book called “Cooked” a couple years ago,” said Bui, 40, who also works as a stay-at-home dad. “It talks about the traditional cooking methods that humans have used, and one of them is baking. … I read that chapter, and I got inspired to try and make my own sourdough.”

Recently, the cottage baker launched sales out of his home at 2667 21st St. in Curtis Park from 4 to 7 p.m. Tuesdays. The house has a natural storefront space, he said, and demand was strong at the farmers’ market. He calls his business The Drunken Loaf, a nod to the fermenting process he uses to make his white, wheat and gruyere-sesame sourdough breads. Loaves sell for $6.

Bui said he was fascinated by how Pollan described bread and baking as the technology that allows humans to consume cereal grasses such as wheat. The book also taught him a great deal about the beneficial bacteria that occur in sourdough because wild yeast is used to leaven the bread.

For his first attempts at making sourdough, Bui referenced the short guide in “Cooked,” which had been adapted from some 40 pages of instruction in San Francisco baker Chad Robertson’s book, “Tartine Bread.” Initially, Bui said, he found the idea of following Robertson’s recipe too daunting, but as he tried Pollan’s abbreviated version, he foundered in ambiguities and grew hungry for Robertson’s detailed guidance. He also went on a bread trek to Chico to seek advice from well-known baker David Miller of Miller’s Bake House.

“I’ve done a lot of research into baking, especially the American bakers,” Bui said. “It seems like it’s a very common thing for bakers to hear a siren call them to baking long before they get started. For instance, Chad Robertson ... talked about how he thought about becoming a baker long before he ever baked.”

As his son Emerson approached school age, Bui began contemplating what he wanted to do with the time he would gain. He told his wife, Airgas finance executive Jana Bittinger, that he was thinking about selling his bread at a farmers’ market. She told him that it was just the thing she could see him doing. ...

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Editor’s note: This story was changed Aug. 30 to correct the day of the week that Davy Bui sells bread from his home.

Cathie Anderson: 916-321-1193, @CathieA_SacBee

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