Brandon Carleton owns Blue Spruce Bakery and makes 12 different types of European-style rustic bread.
MOLINE, ill – When the pandemic began, many people across the country were learning to bake sourdough bread at home. Brandon Carleton was one of them, and now he has his own business: Blue spruce bakery in Moline.
Even before the pandemic began, he said he had a friend who would travel to Iowa City once a month to buy bread.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Carleton said. “I said, you know, surely there is bread in the Quad Cities that is good. And she said to me, ‘No, there really is nothing like that bread. “So I tried it, and she was right. It was really, really good bread.”
When the pandemic hit, he had plenty of free time to learn, and he started baking European-style loaves of bread for his friends.
“I started baking two loaves of bread a week and then my friends started asking for more and more,” Carleton said. “I got to the point where I was making about 20 a week because they were asking for so much. And then they started telling their friends about it and I started getting 50 a week.”
From there he clicked that he could start his own business. Blue Spruce Bakery is not a storefront, which is why Carleton said it was working so well at the start of the pandemic when many places were closed. Almost all of the bread is delivered directly to home customers or to restaurants and cafes. He said that sometimes people would come and get their bread from the kitchen on weekends.
“Some days we will bake over 75 loaves of bread,” he said.
It is not an easy process. From start to finish, each loaf takes 54 hours.
“I actually have to grow a yeast culture that takes around 12 to 14 hours,” Carleton said. “Then I mix all the dough and add the yeast, and it’s a fermentation called bulk fermentation. It lasts about four or five hours. And then it goes into cold fermentation, which takes about 24 to 36 hours. . “
There is a lot of waiting.
“The challenge of running a bakery is you have to figure out how to use your time,” Carleton said. “So while you are sitting down what else are you doing and how do you fill that time to make other products that you can sell?
It also makes sweet pastries and breads, such as coffee cake. He added that the European-style bread he bakes has never been sold in the Quad Cities area before.
“It’s a lot of emphasis on whole grains, a lot of emphasis on like a rustic bread versus a sandwich bread,” he said. “Bread has a very bad reputation as unhealthy, but it’s largely the fast bread you buy at the store compared to the slow-fermenting bread we make which still has a lot of nutrients and health benefits. . ”
His bread was a hit with the inhabitants of the Quad Cities. Carleton said he receives a lot of customers from Germany.
“They say, ‘I haven’t had good bread for 30 years,’ or what they consider to be good bread – that style of bread. So that’s something I hear a lot, ‘Finally some go to the Quad Cities where I can get a really good loaf of bread, ”he said. “I also have a lot of customers who are gluten intolerant and this style of cooking actually allows not people with celiac disease but people who are gluten intolerant to eat my bread.”
Blue Spruce Bakery sells 12 different types of bread, such as old world rye, pumpkin sunflower, parmesan, and pepper. Carleton said he was preparing to unveil his new fall-inspired menu that will include breads such as honey, cinnamon and espresso, Mexican hot chocolate and chocolate and almond cherries.