Our Process


We grind our grain to bake our bread:

All of our breads are made with organic whole grains freshly ground in our own stone mills. This practice maintains the minerals, vitamins and fiber, as well as the full, rich flavor of the whole grains. We purchase our grains directly from local farmers whenever possible.


In addition to traditional wheat, we bake with a variety of other grains, each with its own flavor and texture.


Rye: A hearty grain thriving in cold climates and poor soils, rye yields a very dense, moist bread with a tangy flavor. Robust rye breads have been invigorating people of Northern Europe and Russia for thousands of years. Our rye breads are sure to warm up those long Wisconsin winters!
Kamut and Spelt are both ancient, non-hybridized strains of wheat, the Middle East. Many people who have allergies to common wheat can handle kamut and spelt, although they do contain gluten. These ancient grains have recently gained recognition as alternatives to common wheat, but they merit much attention in their own right. Each has a distinct appearance and flavor: bright yellow kamut tastes mildly fruity, while spelt has a rosy cast and a nutty flavor. 


We ferment:

Natural leavening refers to the myriad ways of encouraging bread dough to rise without the use of commercial bakers’ yeast. People have been baking with natural leavening for at least 6,ooo years; commercial yeast, by contrast, has only been around for about 100 years. To leaven bread without commercial leaveners, bakers often develop “starters” containing ambient micro-organisms. Varying from one place to another, these micro-organisms are responsible for the unique flavors and textures of different naturally leavened breads.


Leavening starters nurture a culture of yeasts and lactic bacteria occurring naturally in the air and on grains. When added to flour, water, and salt, the starter culture causes dough fermentation, an integral process in turning raw grains into palatable bread. The yeasts cause dough to expand by producing carbon dioxide. The bacteria produce acids which flavor and condition the bread.


In addition to leavening and flavoring bread, proper fermentation also makes grains more digestible and their nutrients more accessible. This process creates substances that act as natural mold inhibitors and preservatives, thereby extending the bread’s freshness without chemical additives. Many yeast-sensitive people can tolerate naturally leavened bread, probably due to the relatively small quantity of yeasts present. Natural starter cultures also do not contain the particular species of yeast found in commercial yeast.


Commercially manufactured bakers’ yeast is a single isolated strain of yeast, saccharomyces cerevisae, bred for uniformity, predictability, and rapid development. Using commercial yeast greatly accelerates and simplifies the baking process, making possible the rapid production of uniform bread. Unfortunately, by eliminating natural healthy bacteria in bread and curtailing the dough’s fermentation process, this overly potent yeast diminishes the taste, nutritional value, and keeping quality of bread.

“Using baker’s yeast in an organic bread is like using ‘Marvel Grow’ on an organic farm. Both are chemically processed and both cause an increased rate of growth at the expense of nutrient quality and the food’s capability to protect itself, it’s immune system.”

                                    - Dave Miller, Miller’s Bakehouse, Chico, CA.


Leavening at Cress Spring Bakery 

We make our leavening starters of organic, whole flour and pure, unchlorinated water. Though the English term for natural leavening is sourdough, our starters and bread are generally not sour at all. Our baking style is akin to that of the French pain au levain and the Flemish desembrod (both meaning bread with starter). Unlike tangy San Francisco sourdough, levain and desem breads are mildly sweet, with the heady fragrance and flavor of individual grains speaking eloquently for themselves.   

We use a very long fermentation process, taking about two days to develop and bake each batch. By giving bread dough time to ferment adequately, we create moist, flavorful loaves without the addition of fats or sweeteners. This long process also helps develop the delicious, chewy crust unique to naturally leavened bread.

We bake in a traditional brick oven:

For centuries, bread has been baked in brick, clay, and stone ovens fired by wood. Our oven, designed by world-renowned oven builder, Alan Scott, and built by Cress Spring bakers, produces bread of unsurpassed flavor and texture. Using dead wood harvested from our own land, the oven is fired for a full day before baking, allowing the oven mass to become fully saturated with heat. We then sweep and mop out the ashes and bake our hand-shaped loaves directly on the oven’s brick hearth. The intense heat and steam create crusty, satisfying loaves with a chewy texture and unique flavor. The aroma emanating from the oven on baking days makes one’s head spin and mouth water---this is the essence of real bread. We believe our bread to be the healthiest, tastiest bread you can buy; but the real proof, of course, is in the eating. Try it. You’ll be delighted you did!