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Interview With Macey From @LittlePearlBreads on Instagram

Welcome to The Sourdough People, your go-to destination for all things related to the art and science of sourdough baking. Today, we’re thrilled to share an exclusive interview with a remarkable baker and entrepreneur, Macey, known on Instagram as @littlepearlbreads. Macey’s journey into the world of sourdough is not just inspiring but also deeply rooted in her love for her community and family. She’s turned her passion into a thriving business and is here to share her story, experiences, and insights with us. As we delve into this conversation, we hope you find inspiration and valuable takeaways in Macey’s sourdough journey. Thank you for reading and for being a part of The Sourdough People website, a community that celebrates the love and craft of sourdough baking.

Macey, please tell us where you are from and what you love about where you live?

I am from Aurora Illinois! My city is about 1 hour away from Chicago. We have a growing downtown area with great food, coffee, and events. It’s been lovely to join the small business community in my city.

What initially sparked your interest in sourdough baking, and how did you begin your journey?

I began my sourdough journey in 2020 like so many, but I have loved baking since I was a little girl. In January of 2023, I made a goal to make all of my family’s bread from scratch. The more I baked, the more passionate I became about sourdough baking! I began selling bread from my home in April 2023, and the rest is history.

How has being based in Aurora Illinois added to your sourdough journey?

When I first posted about selling bread in my city, I had NO idea that there would be such a high demand. There are very few options for fresh bread in Aurora, and people were very excited about the idea of supporting a local baker. It’s interesting – micro bakeries are popping up all over the place, but I still seem to be the only one in my area. It’s been fun to create this new, thriving community of people wanting to offer their families nourishing, homemade bread.

How has your approach to sourdough baking evolved since you first started?

I have learned so much about baking since starting my bakery. I was really forced to learn bulk baking quickly without any professional background. I’ve had to learn about timing and temperature when baking large quantities of bread through trial and error. Since starting my bakery, I have really learned how to listen to my dough. Just the appearance and feel of dough can tell me so much. This is a skill that is only learned with time. My bread has improved in quality since the beginning of my journey, and I am excited to continue growing as a baker!

Do you have a signature sourdough recipe or technique you’re particularly proud of? Can you share a bit about it?

One of my favorite recipe creations is my sourdough sandwich bread. This loaf used a tangzhong, which is a Japanese baking method. I am a quarter Japanese, so it’s fun to have a small tie to my heritage in this way. This involves cooking a portion of the flour in milk before you mix your dough. Using a tangzhong creates a wonderfully fluffy loaf, and it also extends the freshness of the bread!

Who are some of the people, brands, or companies in the sourdough industry that have inspired you?

I have a lovely group of micro baker friends that have added so much vibrancy to my life. We bounce ideas off of one another, share encouragement/struggles, and enjoy community in this specific industry. I am always so inspired by these friends! I have been blessed to work with some amazing brands that are always inspiring me. One in particular is Simply Bread Co., the creators of the Simply Bread Oven. This company has been foundational in my business.

What are your must-have tools or favorite equipment for sourdough baking, and why?

I like to keep things simple and streamlined. My main necessities are my Simply Bread Oven, a dough refrigerator, and my commercial mixer. The mixer is specifically needed for any enriched doughs I create, like sandwich loaves or cinnamon rolls. These tools are essential to bake at the capacity I am. Along with those larger items, things like bannetons and dough-proofing bins are also essential.

How do you source your ingredients, and do you have any specific preferences or tips regarding flour, water, or salt?

I use organic grains in all of my bakes. Some of them are sourced from Azure Standard. I am excited to experiment with some locally grown grains from Janie’s Mill in 2024. I use Redmond Real Salt exclusively in my baking.

Can you share a particularly challenging experience you’ve had with sourdough baking and how you overcame it?

Sourdough baking involves a lot of patience and flexibility. It took time to submit to that reality. Season changes, humidity changes, and the necessity of waiting are all challenging aspects of sourdough baking that I have had to overcome.

What do you enjoy most about baking sourdough, and how does it impact your daily life?

The main reason I got into sourdough baking in the first place is still what motivates and inspires me. I love making nourishing bread for my family and my community! Sourdough baking takes us back to the roots of how grains were meant to be consumed, and it brings me so much joy to know that people’s health can be impacted with a simply loaf of sourdough bread.

How do you balance tradition and innovation in your sourdough baking practices?

I generally like to stick to comforting and familiar bakes in my kitchen. There is something so homey about classic, well-loved baked goods. I enjoy getting creative with seasonal flavors, and I always aim to use flavors that align with yearly rhythms and seasons.

Have you noticed any new trends or innovations in sourdough baking recently?

I think that the concept of a micro bakery is a trend in and of itself right now. People are realizing that they CAN do this, and it’s empowering and exciting. I love the thought of people all over the world buying bread from their local micro baker, and I hope this is a trend that is here to stay.

What are some common misconceptions about sourdough baking that you’ve encountered, and how do you address them?

I often see people assume that sourdough is a recipe to be followed when in reality it is a skill to be learned. It is very unlikely that a person’s first sourdough loaf will be perfect because sourdough baking takes practice, diligence, patience, and skill that is learned over time. I always encourage people to keep trying, keep practicing, and extend grace as you learn and grow as a baker.

In your opinion, what is the most underrated aspect of sourdough baking?

The moment you dump a massive bin of dough onto your work surface… it is so satisfying, haha!

Are there any books, videos, or online resources you’d recommend to those wanting to learn more about sourdough baking?

I would love to recommend my eBook! I released my first eBook, Foundational Recipes + Baking Basics, in December 2023, and it includes the 4 foundational recipes used in my micro bakery. It is VERY detailed and can be enjoyed by new and experienced bakers alike. I wrote and designed the entire book on my own, and I am so proud of it!

What advice would you give to someone just starting out with sourdough baking?

Just jump in! I often see people gathering TONS of information before even trying, and sometimes their fear keeps them from just giving it a go. Sometimes it’s helpful to accept that you don’t know it all and just try anyway.

How do you engage with your followers and the sourdough community on social media? What’s your style?

I try to keep it as real and casual as possible on social media, but I also love to inspire others. One of the main goals for me on social media is to show people that they CAN do more and do better if they try. I love interacting with people in DMs, and I try to help fellow bakers out as much as I can.

Have you participated in any collaborations or community events related to sourdough baking, and what was your experience?

I participated in my city’s farmers market in 2023, and it was such a fun experience. I think that helped me feel very connected to my local community, and it helped my business grow immensely through word of mouth.

What’s your favorite sourdough recipe to bake for yourself, friends, or your loved ones?

I will ALWAYS go back to a classic sourdough loaf. It is my favorite thing to make and eat.

Do you have any tips or suggestions on how to manage a healthy sourdough starter culture?

Take the time to learn your starter. Starter care is generally the same across the board, but there will still be little quirks you can learn along the way. I enjoy feeding my starter higher ratio feedings (I almost never feed it anything less than 1:3:3). I have learned what ratios work for my timelines, and it’s been so helpful!

Do you have any upcoming projects or plans related to sourdough baking that you’re excited about?

Yes! In 2024, I am hoping to release some online resources for starting a micro bakery. I am CONSTANTLY asked about how I got started, and I am excited to share what I have learned and what has been successful for me.

What do you hope to contribute or be remembered for most in the sourdough community?

I hope that when people think of me, they think of someone who always puts my faith and family before anything else. My whole business stemmed from wanting to be a diligent wife, mother, and homemaker, and that’s what I want to be known for most in life.

Can you describe a moment when you felt particularly proud or fulfilled in your sourdough baking journey?

The first time I went to a farmers market and sold out was such a sweet moment for me. It was the first time I thought to myself, “I think this can actually happen.” It gave me a boost of confidence to keep pushing forward, and I am so thankful I did!

If you could give one piece of advice to your past self when you started sourdough baking, what would it be?

If I could go back, I would just tell myself that skill only comes with time. I am a perfectionist at heart, and sourdough baking will humble you with that type of disposition. It took a long time until I felt like I had made my version of a “perfect” loaf, but that skill ONLY comes with practice.

Is there anything else Macey that you would like the community to know about you or things you would like the readers to potentially purchase or subscribe to?

I would be honored if you followed along with my journey on Instagram! You can follow me @littlepearlbreads. I would also love for you to check out my recipe eBook, Foundational Recipes + Baking Basics. It is available for purchase on my website.

As our interview with Macey comes to a close, we want to extend our heartfelt thanks to her for sharing her sourdough story with us. Her passion for baking and commitment to her community shines through in every loaf she bakes. If you’re as inspired by Macey as we are, be sure to follow her on Instagram @littlepearlbreads to keep up with her sourdough adventures. We also invite you, our valued readers, to contribute to our growing community. If you have a story idea or experience related to sourdough that you’d like to share, please use our intake form. Additionally, don’t forget to subscribe to our email newsletter for more inspiring stories and tips. And, of course, follow us on Instagram to stay connected with our vibrant sourdough community.

Thank you for reading, and let’s continue to support and grow our love for sourdough bread together!

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