The Rise of Pawling Bread Co.


by Elisabeth Clemmons

Everything about Pawling Bread Co. is organic – especially its dynamic growth. Since the recent expansion to the storefront on 10 East Main Street, the already widely popular micro-bakery has surged in local renown, mostly by word of mouth. On Saturday mornings from 9:30 to noon, a steady stream of shoppers wander in to smell the sweet, inviting aroma of freshly baked sourdough. They try the buttery, fluffy brioche, or a slice of nutty sesame bread and fall in love with the taste of local, homemade artisanal bread.

Kinahan has always loved to cook, initially specializing in mid-eastern fare. Surprisingly, she had never had success baking bread until a few years ago. Her bold venture into bread baking, in fact, started by chance. “I don’t know if there was a precise moment or catalyst,” says Kinahan, who has degrees in graphic design and business and previously worked as an art director for a consumer products manufacturing firm. “I just remember feeling restless at my old job and took pottery classes at Montgomery Pottery as a way to clear my mind.”

One cold night, when the Webatuck Village pottery class was canceled because of bad weather, Kinahan decided to make the best of the evening and try her hand at another handcraft. “It was the worst bread ever!” she exclaims.

Kinahan did not let the experience stop her. Puzzled by the complexity of something seemingly so simple, she embraced the challenge. “I told myself I wasn’t going to stop until I figured out what I was doing wrong.” She continued baking bread nearly daily until she had mastered the recipe, determined to get it right.

Weeks passed by and the bread improved, but there was still something missing. That’s when she decided to ditch the recipe and focus on the craft. “It was only then that I began to really feel the dough,” she says. It was time to get serious. She quit her job to pursue bread crafting full time and perfected her skills by apprenticing with Gerard Rubaud “the grand master of sourdough” in Vermont.

Kinahan’s bread only contains flour, water, salt, and wild yeast. There are no preservatives, unlike most store-bought bread, nor is there extra sodium, sugar, or conditioners. This results in a rich, tastier, more healthful bread. But while the ingredients seem simple, Kinahan describes an incredible process that the yeast undergoes to create loaves.

“Wild yeast is found naturally in the air – it’s the cloudy film we see on grapes, for example. This wild yeast produces breads that are naturally leavened. When you buy packaged yeast, there’s just one strain of it. But when you use a starter (or a culture) of wild yeasts, you have dozens and dozens of these organisms that work symbiotically to ferment the grains that are used. The fermentation generates carbon dioxide that leavens the dough and causes the bread to rise.”

Among customers, the most popular breads are the Country loaf and the White loaf. Fruit loaves and olive loaves are also popular among the “diehard fans.” But Kinahan’s personal favorites are the Flaxseed or Oat Porridge loaves.

There really is nothing better than homemade artisanal bread, hand crafted with love and care. The rise of a business like Pawling Bread Co. brings us one step closer to rekindling a healthier relationship with food in our society. As Kinahan puts it, “Bread nourishes the body and also the mind. It can evoke memories, feelings of comfort, warmth – it can even inspire words. Best of all, it can bring people back to the dinner table again.”

Visit The Pawling Bread Co. @PawlingBread to learn more about this exciting new business in town.