Baking at home has become a pandemic pastime, with photos of everyone's bread and buns popping up on social media as those stuck at home fill the time with mixing dough, watching it rise and dialing in the perfect loaf. But not many of us have spent enough time with our hands coated in flour to consider going pro.
Shawn Bergin has, though — and he's just about ready to open his own bakery. Bergin had already been holding weekly bread and pastry pop-ups at a few West Highland locations, including SloHi Coffee Co., from last September until mid-March, when the restaurant shutdown order came down from the mayor. But he'd also begun work building out his new shop, Bakery Four, at 3712 West 32nd Avenue (previously home to Bug & Belle), in January, and in the meantime has been turning out baked goods from home under Colorado's cottage-industry rules.
With a few more pop-ups planned, Bergin says he's ready to open Bakery Four in the next couple of weeks, as soon as he can get his final inspections lined up with the city. And then he'll begin offering a selection of five or six pastries in the morning and rustic breads in the afternoon. All of the bakery's products will be naturally leavened, so the only ingredients in the bread are water, sea salt and stone-ground flour from two mills in Oregon, plus additional grains and seeds in some of the loaves. And the pastries will all be made with French butter, salt and chocolate.
Bergin started baking when he was still a teenager, learning to make pizza dough at various pizzerias in upstate New York, where he grew up. After college, he was working in sales but needed a distraction from the drudgery of corporate life, so he started hosting pizza parties for his friends, who all raved about his dough-making skills. Over time, he switched from store-bought yeast to natural leavening, which most of us know as sourdough, though the result is not always sour. He also added bread and croissants to his repertoire, perfecting his recipes for years before getting approved as a cottage bakery.
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"Bread is the perfect thing right now," the baker says of the timing on opening his business. "People are looking for something comforting and nourishing."
All of Bergin's doughs ferment for a minimum of 24 hours before they're turned into croissants, pain au chocolat, morning buns with orange zest and cinnamon sugar, or "everything" croissants, a customer favorite so far at his weekend pop-ups. Breads include country sourdough, sesame, and oat and purple barley loaves. "I prefer quality over quantity," he states, so the selection each day will be small, but there will be daily specials to add variety, along with savory specialties in the evening for those looking for a quick meal. He'll also have drip coffee made with beans from Heart Coffee Roasters in Oregon, and hopes to eventually add an espresso machine.
If you're looking to score some bread before the shop officially opens, visit the Bakery Four Instagram page for details on upcoming pop-ups, which are currently scheduled for 5 p.m. today (April 30) and May 2 and 3 at the soon-to-open bakery.