Meet Sadie Scheffer, a San Francisco–based gluten free sourdough bread baker with the quiet confidence of Mona Lisa and loaves of bread that’ll inspire you to shamelessly indulge again.
STANDING BEHIND A TABLE at the Gluten and Allergen Free Expo in San Francisco this winter, doling out loaves of freshly baked sourdough from her two-year-old baking company, Bread SRSLY, and surrounded by clamoring fans, Sadie Scheffer seems more like a celebrity chef than a twenty-five- year-old startup baker. But after crafting what is undoubtedly the best allergy-friendly sourdough bread in the Bay Area and beyond, her star status is warranted. Sadie’s bread does not taste like good gluten-free bread.
It tastes like good bread. Moist and airy with a hard crust and trademark sourdough tang, it’s the kind of stuff that James Beard was talking about when he said, “Good bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods; and good bread with fresh butter, the greatest of feasts.” While Bread SRSLY will elevate any sandwich, heaven can be found in a simply toasted and buttered slice.
Made using whole-grain, certified gluten-free flours and local and organic produce, it’s also egg-, soy-, nut-, sugar-, dairy-, tapioca-, garbanzo bean–, potato starch–, and baker’s yeast–free, making it a lifeline for pretty much any food- restricted bread lover lamenting the loss of one of life’s most glorious eating pleasures.
But Sadie’s sourdough is not just a love story for those pining for the most satisfying of glutenous trysts. Its creation was literally a labor of love that came about in an attempt to bake her way into a man’s heart. A fresh New York transplant in 2010 still smitten with her gluten-intolerant San Franciscan college crush, Sadie rolled up her sleeves and headed into the kitchen. After toying with gluten-free bread recipes for six months, she started selling whatever flavor she came up with— salsa, coconut, tomato-basil—through a blog. She announced the week’s flavors online, took orders, and delivered about twenty loaves a week by bicycle to locals. About fourteen months in, she was still working as a barista at San Francisco’s famed Blue Bottle Coffee when she created the sourdough recipe that stuck. A subsequent plug on DailyCandy in 2012 caused a business spike so dramatic she was clocking a hundred bike miles weekly before hiring a small fleet of bike- delivery women, securing a co-op commercial kitchen, and baking full time.
Today, Sadie’s business is still on the rise. The seven hundred loaves of sourdough she bakes each week in a gluten-free commercial kitchen are sold to nearly twenty Bay Area boutique grocers and a growing number of addicts across the country who get their fix by mail order. She’s got two baking employees and enough business to keep her elbow-deep in dough for years to come. Oh, and she got the guy, too.
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Story Erika Lenkert / Photography Maren Caruso
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