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Wild Flour Bakery is the latest secret ingredient

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It all started with muffins.

Sarah Jones, who, along with her husband, Howard, owns Wild Flour Bakery in the ultra-cool Standard Deluxe compound in Waverly, Alabama, says, “The business was really born at home through years of home baking.”

In December 2021, a friend asked Sarah to bake some muffins. “She only needed about six, so I posted the leftovers on Facebook and sold them immediately. Fast forward a few weeks, and I have a long list of folks who want muffin boxes,” she says. “So, I would load up the trunk of my car, haul down to the local school parking lot and wait for my customers to come pick up their orders.”

Shortly after that, she met Corrie Sid, owner of Grove Station, a bakery, butcher, eatery and market in Tallassee, and they “connected over a mutual love of traditional sourdough.” Sarah and Howard started their business there, renting space in Sid’s store. “We had an amazing first year but ran out of space,” Sarah says. Then Standard Deluxe reached out and asked if Wild Flour would like to take over their empty café space; they moved in this past May.

“We are a sourdough micro bakery, and we are a patisserie,” Sarah says. “We’re making pastries, desserts, and we carry light lunch and a nice selection of espresso, coffee and tea. People can find something new here, something different.”

Wild Flour Bakery brings bread and sweet treats to small town Alabama from Alabama News Center on Vimeo.

Wild Flour already is a part of this small community with its handful of locally owned destination businesses like The Waverly Local restaurant and Fig & Wasp home shop. The bakery, Sarah says, “is a place where people can just relax” on the breezy front porch; in the courtyard; under a covered pavilion; or in the large, green backyard – all part of the funky Standard Deluxe music and event venue.

“Our bake room windows open,” Sarah says, “so if you’re in the pavilion, you’re seeing what we’re doing in the bake room; you’re seeing the bread that’s coming out of the oven. You get to smell it. You’re a part of it; you’re connected to your food source.”

Sarah learned to bake when she was a child. Family friends named Mary and Kathy spent time with young Sarah when her own mother was working a lot of hours and family life was somewhat chaotic. “They were curious bakers,” Sarah says. She picked up on that, along with the kitchen skills and life lessons they taught her. “These women, they were part of my church family, but they just took me in when my life was really messy. … I am just so grateful for both of them.” Mary has passed, but Kathy is still an important part of Sarah’s life and occasionally visits from Washington and helps in the bakery.

Wild Flour has been popular from the beginning, attracting customers from nearby Auburn, Opelika, Lake Martin and beyond. Some are just passing through; others are out for a day drive and stop in, while others come to pick up provisions. “We’ve had a great turnout, not only from the local community but also from as far as Columbus, Georgia, all the way to Alex City,” Howard says. “It’s been the whole (Highway) 280 corridor that’s really shown up and come to visit our little, quaint bakery.”

If they ever doubted that people would come, the grand opening on May 6 answered that question. “It was unbelievable,” Howard says. “There was a line about two to three hours straight. We sold out of everything.”

And it hasn’t really slowed down since then, so if you want Sarah’s sourdough boule, get there early.

Visitors will find a variety of sweet and savory things at Wild Flour. They vary from a fancy, gluten-free, white chocolate mousse entremet with a bit of gold flake on top to the highly popular Deluxe Dog savory pastry made with Conecuh Sausage, Gruyere and onion jam and topped with bagel seasoning. There’s always a steady rotation of creative cheesecakes, cookies and muffins, too. Lunch offerings include things like a jambon buerre sandwich with prosciutto, brie, whipped herb butter and arugula; pesto chicken pasta; and a southwest chicken wrap.

They specialize, Howard says, in “very intricate, thoughtful pastries” along with fresh coffee and Sarah’s breads. “When people come in, they really kind of get overwhelmed with seeing everything. And it just really warms our hearts to see that people enjoy this as much as they do, with the amount of effort that we put into it. I think it comes through.”

Many of the ingredients and products are locally sourced.

“We feature Thankfully Coffee and espresso, which is just a wonderful, young family that we have been so encouraged by,” Sarah says. “They’ve stepped in to help us grow our skills and our knowledge. They’re producing all their coffee right here in Auburn. … They are personally connected to the farms they’re buying coffee from. All that trickles down into the cup that we get – the care, all the way through the process. We have Toomer’s Coffee in Opelika; we’ve really enjoyed getting to know them and working with them as well. Our flour is sourced from To Your Health Sprouted Flour Company out of the Fitzpatrick area. And so, we’re able to bring in a sprouted, organic, whole-wheat flour … and some sprouted organic ryes … to add to the sourdough to build up the body, the flavor. And the nutritional content is exceptional in sprouted flour.”

Perhaps her most important ingredient? Curiosity.

Apart from those early lessons with Mary and Kathy, Sarah is pretty much self-taught and often makes things up as she goes. “It’s just curiousness,” she says. “What can you put together to make something lovely that no one else is doing and offer something to our community that they don’t have otherwise?”

Some things are constant though.

“I’m offering sourdough every day – traditional long-fermented sourdough. I’m offering fresh baguettes every day. … We’ll always have a variety of cheesecakes,” Sarah says. “That’s kind of a staple for our customer. … My goal is to always have challah on Fridays and then to bring in a pumpernickel.” She always has a gluten-free option for her customers, even if it’s just one thing.

Bread is what Sarah most loves to make because it keeps her “growing and learning … It challenges my skillsets on a daily basis,” she says.

It’s also personal. The back of the shirts Sarah and Howard wear read, “flour water salt Mitzi.”

“Mitzi is my mom’s name, and my mom is just a lovely anchor in my life,” Sarah says. “And so, that’s the name of my sourdough starter. … My sourdough starter is one of the hardest-working parts of the business. It’s working around the clock. It’s rising dough all day; it’s rising at night. It’s working all the time, and that’s my mom. She’s the hardest worker I know.”

Theirs is a family-owned and family-run business with Mitzi occasionally popping in and their two kids sometimes taking turns at the register or helping in the kitchen.

Sarah says her favorite part of having her own shop is “being with my family. Because it’s a lot of long hours and seeing my kids, my husband every day, that probably brings me the most joy. … I get to see my daughter and get to watch her grow and interact with people, watching her social skills just blossom. Being 14 years old and being able to talk to the public … having these basic conversational skills has just warmed my heart so much. Even my son, who is 11, watching him learn how to ask the customer, ‘Do you need anything in your coffee?’ Just those simple skills.

“The creativity feeds my soul in a way that is so wonderful,” Sarah says, “but being with my family while I get to (do this) is the best part of it all.”

Howard agrees: “This is something that we’ve always dreamt about. We’ve always wanted to have a coffee shop-bakery, and to have the kids homeschool and be here to be a part of it and get the chance to work … it’s been fantastic. I couldn’t be happier just to have this be a family-run business.”

He says he’s most proud of his wife. “Just seeing Sarah grow and how much she’s come into her own. She’s able to be creative,” Howard says. “I’m just thankful I’m here to support her.”

Both Sarah and Howard delight in delighting their customers.

Howard says, “I love to … get to know people. You start to know their drinks. Sometimes you can start working on them before they even get out of their car. I love working the front of the house and just trying to make their experience the best that I can.”

“People are happy when they come to the bakery,” Sarah adds. “People come in at the end of a Saturday and the store is sold out, and they’re still happy because, ‘You’re doing it! You did a bakery in Waverly! Who cares if there’s nothing here? I can’t wait to come back!’ That’s been an incredible response.”


Wild Flour Bakery and Café at Standard Deluxe

1015 Mayberry St.

Waverly, Alabama

(253) 254-1658

[email protected]

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Hours:

Tuesday through Friday 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Saturday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Susan Swagler has written about food and restaurants for more than three decades, much of that time as a trusted restaurant critic. She shares food, books, travel and more at www.savor.blog. Susan is a founding member and past president of the Birmingham chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier International, a philanthropic organization of women leaders in food, wine and hospitality whose members are among Birmingham’s top women in food.



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