Baking Bread With Love and Finesse
Strolling through Munich, Chris MacLeod savored the smell of fresh-baked bread wafting from the bakeries that blanketed city streets. Befriended by some locals, he was soon enjoying a casual meal called brotzeit (bread time), feasting on a charcuterie board of breads, cheeses, meats, butters, marmalades, and veggies.
“I love the simplicity of the German bread culture,” he says.
MacLeod is the coowner of Laune Bread in Minneapolis. His business model is organized around a subscription program with home delivery and pickup locations around the city. During the COVID-19 pandemic, business has nearly tripled, prompting an upcoming expansion to a brick-and-mortar bakery opening this summer. Future plans may include a retail cafe. He and Tiff Singh, his business partner, also launched a donation-funded charity that provides healthy homemade loaves to local families in need.
A Bay Area native, MacLeod majored in rhetoric and media studies while at Lewis &Clark. He added German as a second major after his yearlong overseas study program in Munich, where he took a deep dive into the history, language, and culture of Germany. “My studies gave me a strong footing toward opening my microbakery,” he says. “I developed a communication tool kit that helped me create and distinguish my bakery, from initial concept to marketing to distribution.”
MacLeod says his technique and values are rooted in his travels and mentors, found in such diverse locales as Point Reyes Station, California; Portland; Minneapolis; Utrecht, Netherlands; Munich; rural Germany; and Basel and Bern, Switzerland. He opened Laune Bread in 2015 but closed it the following year.
He didn’t enjoy working alone and wanted to reevaluate his goals. Before an excursion to Switzerland, he asked Singh to join him in reopening the business when he returned. The duo relaunched Laune Bread in 2019. “Laune is German for mood or vibe,” says MacLeod. “In Munich, when guests ask what to bring to a party, their host responds ‘Just bring your good vibes.’”
Blending German and California baking styles, their breads contain mainly organic and local ingredients with a sourdough base and at least 60 percent whole wheat flour. The partners, working in a rented space two to three days a week, produce a “Bread Bread” basic loaf with added rye and malted barley flour and a weekly “Baker’s Whim” special. The latter is where creativity abounds, with 40 unique offerings in 2020. “We make a cool butternut squash sourdough loaf along with black pepper and carrot rye, caramelized onion, apple flax seed, malt barley syrup and toasted sunflower seed, cinnamon raisin, and sesame flax breads,” he says.
Also on the menu and offered at farmers markets are sourdough Turkish simit bread, pretzels, and cheesy pretzels along with granola, six types of cookies, and savory puff pastries, some filled with dal, lentils, veggies, and curries.
“We bake our loaves with almost as much water as flour for a rich creamy custardy texture, large air bubbles, and a medium-hard crust,” says MacLeod. “Customers tell us our products remind them of bread their mothers and grandmothers made.”
Building relationships within the community and educating people about the benefits of homemade bread are also important to MacLeod and Singh, who agree they don’t want to open multiple storefronts. “Ultimately,” he says, “we’re building a business that fits our lifestyles.”
—by Pattie Pace