When Oat Bakery out of the blue turned the darling of Santa Barbara’s bread scene about six years in the past, nobody was extra stunned than founders Louise and Lou Fontana. The couple had been merely indulging a passion for breads from her native Denmark, however their home made renditions made for brisk pop-up gross sales on the Juice Ranch, which led to a tiny brick-and-mortar store on West Haley Road.
“At first, we had been simply taking part in bakery,” stated Louise, who moved to Santa Barbara to be with Lou in 2016, the yr after they met in a Florida bar. “My mother would educate me the best way to bake over Facetime. I had by no means baked something in my life on the time.”
Final fall, this out-of-the-blue bakery took the following step: opening a wholesale operation from a big kitchen in Previous City Goleta, which permits them to raised serve loyal locals with two places whereas increasing into supply for purchasers far past Santa Barbara. They’re additionally promoting ready sandwiches, toasts, soups, and salads within the ethereal house on Magnolia Avenue in the course of the daytime hours, internet hosting occasional lessons with visitor bakers, and planning to interrupt into particular dinners down the highway.
“The concept is to focus on our bread in ways in which present individuals the best way to eat it,” stated Louise of the placement’s everchanging menu. “We do have untraditional breads, and other people don’t know what to do with shiitake-shallot sourdough or our superseed bread.”
It’s not like their flavorful, texturally dynamic breads want any assist. However what they’re doing with them in Goleta is decidedly scrumptious whereas stunningly easy, a testomony to how high quality elements don’t want extra to excel. Latest focaccia-fillers included dry-cured ham, farmstead cheese, arugula, and Dijon; Motley Crew Ranch-raised turkey on whole-grain with French butter, Dijon, and arugula; and vegan jalapeno unfold with butter lettuce, cilantro, basil, and avocado. There’s been soupy Rancho Gordo lima beans with buttered bread, spiced citrus granola bowls, and snap peas & goat cheese quiche.
And there’s drip espresso comprised of Prolog beans that Louise’s good friend roasts in Copenhagen. “We’re the one individuals in America that promote them,” she stated. However don’t anticipate fancy mochas or flavored cappuccinos. That’s intentional, as they really removed an espresso machine that got here with the constructing. “You’ll be able to go across the nook and get an amazing latte,” stated Lou of the close by Previous City Espresso. “We don’t wish to mess with that.”
That conscientious technique to not step on present toes goes again to the start. “We don’t do croissants for a cause,” stated Louise, nodding to these made by Renaud’s Bakery. “That’s additionally why we don’t do baguettes. You will get baguettes at many locations on the town.”
As an alternative, they bake a wide range of sourdoughs (charcoal-sesame, seeded, country-style, focaccia), quite a few nutty breads (date-almond, pumpkin seed, and superseed), and flavored loafs like sage-garlic and that shiitake-shallot. There’s Danish rye, after all; the favored “Hygge Bun,” a barely candy morning deal with with walnuts, dates, cinnamon, and cardamom, and a rotating forged of seasonal favorites and one-off experiments.
The ingredient sourcing is vital, normally natural for the flavorings, with the bottom of high quality flours from Utah’s Central Milling and infrequently California’s Tehachapi Grain Challenge. Although the preliminary, and nonetheless frequent, notion that the bakery is gluten-free was by no means the case, Oat Bakery is among the trendy bakeries reminding American eaters that wholesome flours don’t normally trigger intestine points (celiac and severe allergy symptoms apart).
The bakery is the most recent tenant on this storied house whose lengthy patio alongside the principally quiet Magnolia Avenue sits a half-block from the visitors of Hollister Avenue. For many years, it was house to the Mexican grocery retailer La Esmeralda Market, whose founder’s granddaughter nonetheless lives on the property (and is the owner). Goodland Kitchen occupied the house from 2011 to 2019, after which Lemon & Coriander briefly opened in 2020 earlier than the pandemic shut it down. All alongside the way in which, the business kitchen served as an incubator to numerous meals purveyors and pop-ups, lots of which stay gamers within the regional scene.
After promoting out every day and turning down so many orders as a result of they only couldn’t bake sufficient of their previous house, the Fontanas realized that the massive kitchen might bolster their present retail wants whereas opening the wholesale market to locations like the favored Los Angeles supply service Flamingo Property. They put in the ovens required for sourdough and specialty baking, introduced in all new gear, and dealt with the design themselves, buying and selling architect Jeff Shelton bread for a few of his tiles. The outcome combines a stark neo-Nordic vibe with pleasant heat, reflecting the bubbly couple’s affinity for placing “We Loaf You” on their packaging.
“We wouldn’t be something with out the group help and our staff,” stated Lou, explaining that lots of their workers have caught round since being employed. “Having a bakery actually connects you with individuals.”
Raised in Ventura County and educated at SBCC within the early 2000s, he labored in video manufacturing for his first profession, producing commercials and profitable two Emmys for the Santa Barbara public tv present Backbeat, which highlighted efforts to “use music to make a constructive impression in your group.” However whereas that work granted the prospect to journey the world — he was filming a cruise marketing campaign when he met Louise on her Florida trip — it wasn’t all that significant.
“I might name movie manufacturing glorified development,” laughed Lou, who hardly ever noticed the precise impression of his business work. Baking, which was model new to him as nicely, is a full-circle expertise, utilizing your two arms to craft a customized product that instantly makes individuals glad. As he defined, “The entire course of is absolutely fulfilling.”
For Louise, Oat Bakery continues to be a every day love letter from her homeland. “As a Dane, I eat bread two occasions a day,” she stated. “We’re bringing that Danish bread tradition to California.”
231 Magnolia Ave., Goleta; (805) 845-4300; oatbakery.com