To start: Bakery to open with breads made from a hundred-year-old French sourdough base.

After two years of renovations to the space at 3410 Wrightsville Ave., Little Loaf Bakery and Schoolhouse owner Julia Castellano is ready to open the doors to customers on November 19.

“I can’t wait for this to be a reality because it’s been a long road,” Castellano said.

In a nod to the old-world European pastries he’s been selling at farmers’ markets since March 2021, Castellano wanted to retain the historic charm of the 1930s-era home while converting it into a bakery with a commercial kitchen, a process that it went on for years. because of “all the hiccups” inherent in renovating an older home.

“The whole house has a little dip,” he said.

Working with the home’s quirks ultimately paid off, as Castellano was able to preserve the original hardwood floor and windows to make the space feel cozy and inviting. A patio out back completes the transformation.

“It feels like you are in a European backyard,” Castellano said.

Sourdough focaccia, country sourdough and honey biscuits are among the customer favorites that will be stocked at its new physical location along with a menu roughly double the size of what Castellano offers in markets. New offerings include a sourdough marbled rye and two sourdough baguettes, one with a Castilian take on the classic and the other with a traditional French flair.

Hungry for an authentic French baguette but unable to find a local source, Castellano traveled to France last year to hone her baguette-making prowess with an experienced French pastry chef. As a parting gift, Castellano scored a branch of the baker’s 107-year-old sourdough base, which he transported back to the United States in a small toilet bottle in his luggage. It’s that old French starter combined with his own that forms the basis of Little Loaf breads today.

Castellano’s foray into France is indicative of his desire to perfect his confectionery, a mission that he recognizes as impossible when baking bread.

“You can’t achieve perfection with bread,” he said. “There is always something you can do better.”

It is the challenge that sustains his love for the trade. Three humble ingredients — flour, water and salt — are all a baker needs to make bread, but Castellano said she’s fascinated by the ability to create endless varieties simply by changing the amounts of those ingredients or the methods used.

“Bread is the most challenging thing I’ve ever made in the baking world and it’s the most unpredictable and always problematic,” Castellano said. “Because it is like that, the relationship I have with her is continuous.”

A lifelong learner, Castellano has incorporated learning and education into her bakery by offering classes taught by herself and other artisans. She plans to schedule weekly classes starting in January.

“It’s a way to bring the community together and a way to get people here to learn some things that you don’t learn traditionally. We go through school and never learn how to plant things, how to make bread, how to make cakes,” Castellano said. “I want to give everyone a chance to come and try it out.”

Little Loaf Bakery and Schoolhouse will be open Thursday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and hours will slowly expand from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday.

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