When you see the word “bread,” what do you picture? If it’s white and wrapped in a colorful plastic bag with a word indicating amazement on it, we’re here to repaint that image for you. Here in St. Louis Park, we have numerous bakeries that specialize in taking back bread. It’s supposed to be flavorful, nutritious, and texture-rich. It’s supposed to enhance what it’s carrying, or taste great on its own—not simply be a vehicle for meat and cheese. So we’ve put together a handful of bakeries that carry specialty breads, along with what to buy and what to do with it. It’s an education in bread.
Olive Rosemary Bread
Sometimes, a bread is meant to carry ingredients: meat, cheese, vegetables, etc. And sometimes, it’s meant to be savored all on its own. At Crossroads Delicatessen, the olive rosemary bread is the latter. It’s a classic flavor combination that stands out as salty—from the olives—and soul-warming—from the rosemary. It’s great as a side to a hearty soup or salad, but to truly appreciate its flavor, smear some fresh butter on a slice, or tear it apart and dip in some seasoned olive oil. It’s not for those afraid of flavor, but it will truly be a treat for carb lovers. $5.99 per loaf.
Pain de Mie
You can walk in to Rustica Bakery and buy nearly any kind of bread your heart desires. The shelves of rustic loaves are Instagram-worthy, and the smell brings you back to Grandma’s kitchen. But for starters, try out their pain de mie. The French translates roughly to “sandwich bread,” and that’s exactly what it’s perfect for. It looks much like you’d expect sandwich bread to look, but its flavor will push your supermarket breads out the door. Its soft interior is dream-worthy, and perfect for toasting, either in the pan (with some cheese in between) or alongside your eggs and bacon in the morning. Available Saturday and Sunday.
Lunds & Byerlys
Challah is a braided bread traditionally eaten on the Jewish Sabbath and holidays, but you don’t need to be celebrating to enjoy this bread. Beautifully shiny on the outside, the inside is light and soft, with just a hint of sweetness. It’s great on its own, or as a soup soaker-upper, but that sweetness makes it the ideal multi-purpose bread. It can be toasted and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar, or torn up and used in bread pudding. But for a classic challah leftover recipe, make French toast. The light bread soaks up the batter perfectly, and the shiny but soft crust provides an edge that’s not too tough. That, plus the already lightly sweet bread, makes for the perfect French toast. You’ll never go back to regular bread again. $5.49 per loaf.
The Park Sourdough
Honey & Rye Bakehouse
If you walk into Honey & Rye, you might never want to walk out. You’ll be tempted by the sweet treats—and by all means, load up—but make sure to grab a loaf of the Park sourdough. You’ve probably had sourdough bread in the past, but Honey & Rye will reintroduce you, formally, to this classic old-school crusty treat. It’s got the rustic crust bread lovers dream of, and that crust is just as it should be—crispy, crunchy and hiding the tangy, soft bread on the inside. This bread is perfect for sandwiches, and excellent when simply topped with some seasoned butter. But if you don’t have a family of four to share it with, it’s also great cubed and turned into croutons or a breakfast strata. It’s versatile and delicious—what more do you need? $4 per loaf.
Mini Loaf Breads
Well, we can’t have an article about bread without including something sweet. So head to Nelson’s—your neighborhood baker, butcher, deli and caterer—and take your pick of their mini loaf breads. The small size and many flavors mean both fruit- and chocolate-lovers can get what they want. Varieties include blueberry, lemon, banana, banana chocolate chip, and chocolate chip. It’s bread, but it’s also a treat, meaning it can be eaten plain, with a swipe of butter, topped with ice cream, drizzled with chocolate or whatever your taste buds can dream of. $1.99 per loaf.
Yum! Kitchen & Bakery
To finish up our list of breads, a classic. You see French baguettes at every grocery store, but to get them from a trusted bakery is truly best. At Yum! you get the perfect crunchy crust that’s protecting the soft, airy interior. Slice it in half length-wise and turn it into a crusty sandwich (or simply order one of Yum’s), or slice it on a diagonal and serve it up with a gooey brie and jam at a party. Looking to step it up a notch? Float a slice on top of homemade French onion soup, top one with a slice of gruyere and broil for gooey goodness. $2.50.