Sourdough is on the Rise at Bread Bandits

Good Bite

Pictured: Made using a sourdough starter and imported flour, the French baguettes at Bread Bandits are free of harmful ingredients like pesticides. Photo courtesy of Bread Bandits.

As a sixth-generation baker, Jules Thuet knows a thing or two about bread. He and his friend Brad Rutledge met at Thuet’s family’s bakery in Toronto, where they honed their craft. Dubbed the “bread bandits” by Thuet’s little sister because they snuck out late at night to start work at the bakery, Thuet and Rutledge recognized a “knead” for quality baked goods in the community. They moved to Sarasota, bringing with them years of expertise and enthusiasm for sourdough bread, and opened Bread Bandits in Sarasota, with the goal of elevating the local bakery scene through sourdough bread.

BBC Good Food defines sourdough bread as “a naturally leavened bread, which means it doesn’t use commercial yeast to rise. Instead, it uses a ‘starter,’ a fermented flour and water mixture that contains wild yeast and good bacteria, to rise.” The term sourdough refers not to the taste of the bread itself but to the process of making it. Bread Bandits’ starter, named Chad, is 120 years old. Thuet’s great-grandmother gave Chad the gift of life in France, and his father Marc Thuet brought Chad to Canada for his own bakeries. “Sourdough is a living thing that needs a lot of care. If you don’t feed it, it dies,” says Thuet. Chad requires feeding six times a day, but the resulting bread is worth the extra effort.

“Most of the flour in the United States has additives that make it easier to handle. It doesn’t gum up machines, but it does gum up the human body. Everyone thinks that gluten is the culprit, but when you dive into the ingredients, you see that America allows things to go into the flour that no other country does. We import organic flour from France because there are things in the flour in the United States that are illegal in France. All of our bread is sourdough with a natural leavener instead of yeast. It’s a 48-hour process in which fermentation breaks down the enzymes in the flour that make bread hard to digest,” he adds. These clean ingredients and traditional methods make for healthy bread and dynamic flavors.

Bread Bandits’ staples include white, whole wheat, rye and multigrain. “For the multigrain, we toast the grains low and slow for 12 hours, then add them to the mixture. Avocado toast on the multigrain bread is killer,” Thuet adds. The bakery’s most iconic offering is the Bandit Baguette, a versatile take on ciabatta that works well for dipping in oil or making sandwiches. He and Rutledge also sell classic French baguettes and croissants. “We like to work with the seasons. Florida has so much to offer in terms of fruit, and we want to support local farmers as much as possible,” he says.

For fall, Bread Bandits released a Pumpkin Spice Danish with pumpkin spice pastry cream and a cream cheese filling. The bakery’s November offerings go beyond bread, and guests can order complete Thanksgiving meals. Patrons can come to sip on a coffee and enjoy tasty baked goods, and the establishment’s menu will soon expand to offer items like salads and sandwiches. Wholesale orders from restaurants and other businesses mean that diners can sample Bread Bandits’ products at local favorites, like Hamlet’s Eatery. “We’re so happy to be here, and we love Sarasota,” Thuet adds. “So many people from the north who haven’t been able to find good bread come here and say ‘this is what we’re looking for.’”

Visit Bread Bandits at their bakery shop, the Farmers’ Market at Lakewood Ranch at Waterside and the Siesta Key Farmers Market. Bread Bandits, 3546 S. Osprey Ave., Sarasota, 941-413-5112, breadbandits.com.

Pictured: Made using a sourdough starter and imported flour, the French baguettes at Bread Bandits are free of harmful ingredients like pesticides. Photo courtesy of Bread Bandits.

Bread Bandits

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