It’s happened to all of us: You wake up in the middle of the night and stare at the clock, thankfully realizing that you still have a few hours to sleep before you have to get up.
But chances are, bread baker Carol Elewski, owner of Wild Yeast Breads, is already at work. Her day begins at 3 a.m, Mondays through Fridays, but for her, it’s a labor of love.
“I love bread and working with bread,” said Elewski, who has baked bread out of her Olympia home since November 2015.
Elewski, originally from Ohio, has been baking since she was 11, but is largely self-taught, she said, except when she spent a week with a commercial baker in Jackson, Mississippi.
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She prefers to mix by hand, use organic flours, and bake with sourdough in all her loaves, which can range from slightly sour to deeply sour, she said. There are some exceptions: She uses commercial yeast in her baguettes and ciabatta, two breads that work best that way, she said.
Once her dough is ready, she bakes the bread in steam-injected ovens, imported from France. Among her breads: heirloom wheat, heirloom sesame wheat, New York rye, country levain, ciabatta, baguettes, and country broa, a type of corn and rye bread.
She doesn’t have a retail location, but sells her bread wholesale to restaurants and food establishments such as La Petite Maison, Olympia Seafood Co., The Mousetrap, and the Delphi Farmers Market, which is open 4-7 p.m. Fridays. She hopes to sell her bread to the eastside Olympia Food Co-op and other restaurants.
Mousetrap owner Alexandra Gouirand, who was born and raised in France, said Wild Yeast’s baguettes are the closest thing she has found to “real, authentic Parisian baguettes.”
“They have the perfect balance between crust and dough,” she said. “You can tell it was handmade.”
Wild Yeast Breads is a one-woman show, but Elewski said she does get help from her family when making deliveries. Her daughter manages the Facebook page, she said.
Before baking bread became a full-time operation, Elewski was a criminal defense attorney, working on appeals at the state and federal levels. She said the legal work was stressful because she’s a perfectionist.
Even now, she still wants to make the perfect bread.
“I just want to make really, really good bread,” she said.
Wild Yeast Breads
▪ Owner: Carol Elewski
▪ Type of business: Wholesale bakery
▪ Years in business: Since November 2015
▪ Online: Learn more about Wild Yeast Breads on Facebook.
▪ Where can I find the breads? La Petite Maison, Olympia Seafood Co., The Mousetrap, Delphi Farmers Market.
▪ The best way to eat bread: Carol likes it with unsalted butter and a touch of salt, or with cheese.
▪ Did you know? Elewski is a former criminal defense attorney. She has been a lawyer since 1990. She previously taught at the University of Georgia law school. She also is a former deputy counsel for the legislature of the Federated States of Micronesia, a U.S. territory. During her two years in Micronesia, she lived on the island of Yap.