La Brea Bakery balances innovation & authenticity with new breads that mark its 30th anniversary

By Elizabeth Crawford

- Last updated on GMT

Source: La Brea Bakery
Source: La Brea Bakery
A trio of new breads from La Brea Bakery created to celebrate the company’s 30th anniversary and slated to hit store shelves this fall seek to overcome common consumer perceptions that bread is unhealthy by using techniques and ingredients that give each loaf a nutritional boost.

Company founder and award-winning chef and baker Nancy Silverton teamed with La Brea Bakery’s Senior VP of Innovation and long-time baking partner Jonathan Davis to develop the new La Brea Bakery Founders breads using Silverton’s original sourdough starter and on-trend whole grains, seeds and alternative flours to meet consumer demand for nutrient-dense products.

“More and more consumers have begun to recognize the benefits of bread,”​ Davis said. “We attribute this change of heart to increased education into certain ingredients, like sourdough and whole grains. Because of the positive perceptions of fermented foods and its traditional preparation techniques, sourdough bread has become a go-to bread for health-conscious consumers.”

He also noted that health-conscious consumers are interested in “natural, hearty flavors and ingredients,”​ which combined with their interest in sourdough helped inspire the recipes for the La Brea Baker Founders’ line.

“The goal of La Brea Bakery Founders was to create a new portfolio of breads that were new and inventive, but also true to our roots,”​ Davis said. “During our initial experimentation with ingredients, we were inspired by the breads we both loved personally and the ingredients our customers craved. With this in mind, we settled on a unique flavor and taste profile, utilizing whole grains, sprouted grains and alternative flours. We loved the idea of incorporating whole grains and seeds.”

He added that “with these ingredients, our bread provides consumers with nutritional benefits without sacrificing its delicious flavor.”

The end result are three loaves that include Pain Levain, a classic slow fermented sourdough; the Sprouted Multigrain & Seed, which uses sprouted grain and sunflower and pumpkin seeds; and the Country Wheat Batard, which uses whole wheat flour and bran.

Balancing authenticity and innovation

Even as La Brea strives to be open-minded about ingredients, it continues to use tried-and-true baking methods, which set its bread apart from the competition, Davis said.

“The industry has evolved so much over the last 30 years. With so many new ingredients, and new techniques, a lot of bakers have neglected to use old-world baking methods and have moved on to modern techniques,”​ he explained.

However, he added, he and Silverton didn’t want to do that.

“We recognize our roots as a key reason for our success, so rather than changing our ways, we evolved. We continue to use the sourdough starter, made simply from water, flour and organic grapes, that Nancy cultivated 30 years ago, but now in addition to our classic recipes, we incorporate it into new recipes geared towards are ever-evolving consumers,”​ he said.

Another example of how the company has remained relevant to consumers over the past three decades was its the decision a few years ago to certify the company’s entire portfolio as Non-GMO Project Verified.

“We understood that transparency in ingredients was just as important as the final product,”​ Davis explained.

This also inspired the launch of La Brea Bakery Reserve several years ago. The line is made from Fortuna wheat, which Davis explained is “an heirloom grain that isn’t commonly used in breads and harvested from a family run farm in Montana.”

Reflecting on these changes, Davis added the main lesson-learned that he can share with emerging brands based on the company’s tenure is to continually listen to consumers and use their insights to evolve and create new products that meet their demands.

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