Thursday, January 10, 2013

Good Spirit Bakery Changes Hands


Tracy Street Is Making It Her Own 
Tracy Street hadn’t eaten bread for years, but whenever she came home to visit her family in Saskatoon, she would eat the lentil rolls her parents had purchased from Good Spirit Bakery at the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market. She tried another couple of their items and really enjoyed them as well.

When Tracy heard that Peyton Leavitt and Jonathan Lee wanted to sell Good Spirit Bakery, she put in an offer, and it was accepted.

Bread is Temperamental 
Tracy loved to cook and she had owned catering companies in Ontario, but baking was something new. “Baking is such a science with very exact measurements,” Tracy explains. “It takes a great deal of patience. That’s why it didn’t appeal to me when I was young.”

Tracy and her fellow baker, Linda Boldt, trained with Peyton at the Watson Bakery three days a week for six weeks. “We learned how to bake exactly how Peyton baked,” Tracy says. “She set us up with her poolish, which she had started 10 years ago when Good Spirit first opened.”

It was a huge learning curve, Tracy says, and once she moved into her own bakery in Saskatoon, there was another learning curve as she had to bring her knowledge to a different environment with a different humidity.

One of the toughest items to master was the lentil rolls, but Tracy refused to give up as they were her staple. “I had sleepless nights thinking about how to work it out,” Tracy says. Finally, one of her customers suggested adding extra humidity – and that did the trick.

Something Old – and Something New
Tracy has set up her own bakery in Saskatoon. It’s an old warehouse that her partner, Scott Thoen, renovated. “It’s beautiful,” Tracy says, “with big, big windows and an old brick wall that we cleaned but left unfinished. Jonathan said it looked just like a New York bakery.”

Tracy purchased the exact-same oven that Peyton used in the Watson bakery. It’s a British, four-tiered oven with steam injection, and the bread is baked on a clay stone.

Tracy is also continuing to purchase wheat, lentils and grains from Northern Leichts Farm near Spalding, which is one of the largest organic farms in Saskatchewan. “It was the only way to keep the product the same,” Tracy says. “A different supplier would make such a difference.”

Peyton had a huge repertoire of breads, and Tracy is continuing to make 35 of them. She makes different varieties each week, with more options in the summer when the Market is busier.

Tracy is also adding some of her own touches in order to make the business her own. Linda Boldt made fantastic whole-grain raspberry scones, so Tracy purchased the recipe. She’s also making the barley sourdough much more frequently as barley is one of her favorite grains. And she’ll be adding in more baked goods and treats.

Good Spirit Bakery is now a nut-free facility, which has brought in a new wave of customers.

Expanding the Business
“I’m really open to commercial accounts,” Tracy explains. “We only bake three days a week for the Farmers’ Market, but we have a building devoted to baking.”

Tracy is already selling her bread to Flint, and Broadway Roastery has taken on Good Spirit’s baked goods. “The Roastery has asked us to make butter tarts,” Tracy says. “Once we’ve settled on our recipe, we’ll start selling them at the Farmers’ Market as well.”

Tracy is also interested in catering bread and treats for company parties.

It’s not easy to take over an existing business and make it your own. Tracy Street seems to be succeeding at balancing the old with the new. I wish her well.

See also:
Good Spirit Bakery 2010
Good Spirit Bakery and Café, Watson, 2011

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