Sometimes life takes you in a direction you never saw yourself going, but it turns out to be the best road you have taken. Cathy and Gary White did not plan what has become a blessing in their life. They grew up in small towns in eastern Kentucky. They attended the same school system from middle school through high school, graduating from Russell High in 1970. They became reacquainted a couple of years later and were married soon after. Gary joined the US Coast Guard, with his first assignment at Fort Macon aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Conifer in 1975. About five years before retirement in 1995, they established a home in Gloucester and have lived here permanently since.
Wildflour Bakery began by accident about 15 years ago when their then three-year-old granddaughter was visiting. She had helped with biscuits and pancakes, so Gary thought, why not make some bread? She became disinterested, but Gary was hooked. Gary said, “I became obsessed with what I viewed as the ultimate baking process - the wood firing of sourdough artisan bread. I eventually built the simplest form of ovens, mainly from clay and sand, on a foundation of scavenged cement blocks at the end of our driveway.”
Soon, Gary found himself a baker, pulling beautiful, delicious artisan bread from his wood-fired oven in Bettie, NC. Richard Miscovich, master baker and now the author of the widely acclaimed book From the Wood-Fired Oven, was kind enough on a busy bake day to briefly explain the workings of a wood-fired oven. He spoke even while moving quickly and efficiently between shaping loaves, testing to determine if others were ready to bake, and unloading beautiful caramel-colored crusty steaming loaves from the depths of his brick oven. After this short introduction to baking in a wood-fired oven, Gary became even more obsessed and determined to learn to bake in this most primitive form.
They are the only business they know of located east of Raleigh baking artisan bread in a wood-fired oven. Wood-fired baking is a physically demanding process. The ovens are made from materials designed to hold on to heat for as long as possible. The oven requires around 10 to 12 hours of a roaring fire; leftover coals spread to die down for another five or six hours and then a thorough cleanout, followed by another five or six hours to cool to a just-right temperature for the first load of dough.
Their most popular bread is their Sourdough, called the Coastal Loaf in a sand dollar shape. They also offer a cinnamon bun’s unique style, called a Morning Bun and made from croissant dough, filled with cinnamon, brown sugar, and the zest of fresh oranges. They offer bacon herb cheddar scones, apple cider doughnuts, Polenta crackers, and unique jams, jellies, preserves, and marmalades. Eating local foods has its benefits - not only does local food have more nutrients and promote safer food, but you also help support the local economy.
Visit them on Facebook at Wildflour Bakery. You will also find their products at The Market at Cedar Point, Turner Street Market, Salty Catch Seafood, and Edgewater Gardens. Or you can email Cathy at firstname.lastname@example.org to order some delicious goodies!
Rebecca Jones is a contract writer for the Carteret News-Times and the newest member of the Carteret Local Food Network blog writing team. She was born and raised in the Piedmont Triad area where she spent most of her life. She has two grown children and 6 grandchildren. Writing has always been a part of her life and she believes that it is a way to showcase and bring awareness to events that affect your community. In April of 2018, Rebecca and her husband George moved to Beaufort, NC. Her most recent two books, Love Brings You Home (about Hurricane Florence) and Go Deep (a devotional with photos), are sold locally and on Amazon.