By Rebecca Jones, special to the News-Times
GLOUCESTER — Both Cathy and Gary White grew up in small towns in eastern Kentucky. They attended the same school system from middle school through high school, graduating from Russell High in 1970. They become reacquainted a couple of years later and were married soon thereafter. Gary joined the US Coast Guard, with his first assignment at Fort Macon aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Conifer in 1975. About five years before retirement in 1995, they established a home in Gloucester and have lived here permanently since that time.
Wildflour Bakery began quite by accident about 15 years ago when their then 3-year-old granddaughter was visiting. She had helped with biscuits and pancakes, so Gary thought why not make some bread? She became disinterested, but Gary was hooked. Gary said, “I became obsessed in what I viewed as the ultimate baking process, wood firing of sourdough artisan breads. I eventually built the simplest form of ovens, mainly from clay and sand, on a foundation of scavenged cement blocks on the end of our driveway.”
Soon, Gary found a baker in pulling beautiful delicious artisan breads from his wood-fired oven in Bettie. Richard Miscovich, master baker and now author of widely acclaimed book “From the Wood-Fired Oven,” was kind enough on a busy bake day to briefly explain the workings of a wood-fired oven with all the moving quickly and efficiently between, shaping loaves, testing to determine if others were ready to bake and unloading beautiful caramel-colored crusty steaming loaves from the depths of his brick oven. After this short introduction to baking in a wood-fired oven, Gary became even more obsessed and determined to learn to bake in this most primitive form.
Theirs is the only business they know of east of Raleigh baking artisan breads in a wood-fired oven. Wood-fired baking is a physically demanding process. The ovens are made from materials designed to hold on to heat for as long as possible. The oven requires around 10 to 12 hours of a roaring fire, left-over coals spread to die down for another 5 or 6 hours and then a thorough cleaning out another 5 or 6 hours to cool to a temperature that is just right for the first load of dough.
Their most popular bread is their Sourdough Bread called the Coastal Loaf in a shape of a Sand dollar. They also offer a unique style of cinnamon bun they call a Morning Bun, made from croissant dough and filled with cinnamon, brown sugar and the zest of fresh oranges. They offer bacon herb cheddar scones, apple cider doughnuts, polenta crackers, and unique jams, jellies, preserves and marmalades.
They are located at 1029 Pigott Road in Gloucester. Visit them on Facebook at Wildflour Bakery. In the spring, they will be back at the Olde Beaufort Farmer’s Market. Email Cathy at email@example.com to order some delicious goodies.