A couple of years ago, I saw a post on Facebook by Community Loaves; they were looking for a little fruit called calamondin. It’s like a little lemon orange. My family calls them calamansi, and we have three massive calamansi trees at my old house. So, after harvesting a box full, I brought them in and traded them for cookies, bread, brownies, slices of apple pie … I loved it. We were bartering like old days; fruit for baked goods. I brought along a bag of blood oranges and grapefruits, as well; You know, just in case. That experience sums up the vibe of this neighborhood bakery.
Community Loaves is an organic bakery nestled in the Murray Hill neighborhood of Jacksonville. They bake cakes. They make a mean quiche. The bakery has farm fresh salads, pesto grilled cheese sandwiches, and even serve coffee. Every day, the staff bakes sourdough bread, fresh pastries and pies using seasonal and local produce.
It’s pie season, so I sat down to talk with owner and baker Meredith Corey-Disch to talk shop.
I opened with the most important question: “What do you love about making pies?” Meredith thinks about it, looks around and yells, eyes wide: “Butter! I love making pie crust … Pie crust seemed like the easiest thing to make, but people are intimidated by them and end up buying a pre-made crust.” Simplicity is the key to creating the perfect pie.
“I love that you can make the simplest, easiest pie in the world and people are like you made this?” she says. “I love when there is fruit in season, and you can just use a ton of it in the dessert, or pie, and it doesn’t have to be more complicated than cold butter, flour, and fruit.”
Meredith made her first pie when she was 13; an apple pie from her mother’s Martha Stewart cookbook. She grew up in a home where processed foods and soda were not allowed, but pie was another story. There was always fruit and butter in the house, so pie was her sweet treat. Apple pie is still her favorite. She is a master at it. Two years ago, I had this apple pie from Community Loaves. It was a work of art; the top crust was made to look like leaves. “It was too beautiful to eat” … said me not ever. When I bit into it, there was a hint of lemon that set it off. Meredith didn’t remember the pie when I brought it up, but I have pictures. Proof is in the pie.
“I’ve always been a sweets fanatic. It makes sense that I own a bakery, because I have a sugar addiction,” she says.
Meredith began delivering bread by bike door-to-door. Then she grew to open a stall at the Riverside Arts Market, to building her brick-and-mortar bakery and café.
I asked her: “When was your ‘Aha!’ moment when you knew it was time to open Community Loaves?”
“There was never a moment where I was like, ‘I want a storefront and a café,” she says. She was staying on a farm and read a book called “So You Think You Can Farm.” The book had a message: if you’re someone who is obsessed with starting a farm, the reality is running a farm is running a small business. Wherever you are, you can the gain the skills to farm by running a small business. “So, I knew that I wanted to find a skill I could use to start a small business,” she says. “Then after that I went to a sourdough bakery; I got to be the apprentice. It helped that I totally loved the family. I had such good time there. I enjoyed baking so much. I enjoyed their lifestyle, and I just read that book. So all those things happening together made think, “Oh, this is it.” I don’t have to move on a farm at 23 years old.”
“So… this is your farm?” I asked.
“This is my farm.”
For more info, visit communityloaves.com
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