Sourdough comes to Milan


By Milan Eagle Media

One of the people waiting in line on the day of The Mother Loaf’s soft opening was Candice Schlager. She heard about The Mother Loaf from a Facebook post and wanted to try something new. Being new comers in Milan, they moved from Ann Arbor a few months ago, she said, “I bought 3 kinds of bread today. Warm bread with this cold weather equals good business. We like bread and coffee.” Today they had seven different kinds of bread and guests crowded around the counter as Stephanie and Susan cut off samples and explained the different varities.
Owners Jeremich Kouhia and Stephanie Ariganello opened The Mother Loaf at 508 County St. in January. They share the building with Milan Coffee Works and are next door to OG Brewery. The Mother Loaf started in 2011 , mostly selling at farmer’s markets around town. They started as a CSB – community supported bakery, similar to a CSA. People would sign up and pre-pay for three months at a time and we would supply them with bread once a week. We grew from there, which brought us to here. 
While they will likely continue to sell in Ann Arbor and the surrounding areas, but they only operate in Milan. By operate they mean have a brick and mortar store where they actually bake. They didn’t have a bake shop or store front before. They partnered up with commercial kitchens in order to bake for the past few years. Their shop in Milan is their first real baking “home” where Jeremiah has complete control over his own kitchen and oven, which is really nice for a whole slew of reasons 
Jeremiah said, “ I started baking seriously at least five or six years ago. I was working in kitchens all of my adult life and would dabble in baking, but as I thought about what I wanted to do in the future, it became more enticing. I like that sourdough is temperamental and always challenging — but the results are well worth it. My mom was and still is a baker, so I also have that connection to it.
A lot of the credit has to go to Matt Bjurman, who owns and operates Milan Coffee Works. He saw the potential in our building and took the first leap, setting up the coffee roasting and shop. We followed and are happy we did. Milan has been wonderfully supportive in the few weeks we’ve been open. Our other neighbor, the Original Gravity Brewery, has also been great.
Right now, we’re committed to at least Fridays from noon to 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. If someone needs a special order or if we have demand for other hours, we will try to remain responsive and flexible. The idea is that we’ll grow as demand grows. Plus as a small operation that focuses on sourdough, which is super intensive, and required quite a bit of time per batch, we’re somewhat limited in what we can do until we reach the point of critical mass and start hiring others to help with the baking and/or the retail side of things
They have at last five staples and a rotating stock of usually three more, plus soups, plus other goodies like pecan oat bars and rustic fruit tarts.
“Our breads are all leavened exclusively with sourdough starter, no commercial yeast. We keep separate starters for our main kinds of bread, which allows them to develop loads of flavor and distinctive characteristics over time. We have done one yeasted bread before, these coconut flatbreads that people went crazy for. I don’t know that they’ll make a reappearance; it’s just to say we do deviate from. the formula every once in awhile”, said Jeremiah
These are the staples: Levain, Salt –crusted Rye, Spelt round, Campagne (big country loaf), Seasonal brioche, wheat and/or white sandwich loaf. Depending on the week they have specials. They also serve soup or whatever else Jeremiah feels like whipping up that week
They’d like to let everyone know they appreciate the support. When you buy and eat our bread you can hopefully feel really good about supporting not just a small, local business, but also for supporting a food tradition that was dwindling for a time. Sourdough is unpredictable and time-consuming, but well worth the effort. We’re just happy people are recognizing that!
Visit motherloaf. org or call 734-272-4933.

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