The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

The Danville News

June 16, 2014

Simple success: Columbia County Bread and Granola uses 3 base ingredients

MAHONING TWP. — Columbia County Bread and Granola has started baking at its new location where the owner hopes to double production.

“To my knowledge, we are the only baker in the country using just three ingredients,” said owner Douglas Michael at his rental site, the former Mahoning Cooper Elementary School, at 1605 Bloom Road.

Those ingredients are dough, water and about 1 percent sea salt.

Without flour or commercial yeast, the company produces handmade bread, granola, flatbread and pita bread.

Current production includes 150 loaves of bread a week and 1,000 packages of flatbread every other week.

“This is the first time we have the opportunity to manage our business and to set our own schedule,” Michael said.

They had been at the Moose Exchange in Bloomsburg which was damaged by fire earlier this year.

After the blaze, they moved to 225 Center St. in Bloomsburg where they plan to open a store and a café in late summer or early fall.

On Thursday, they baked orange poppy seed flatbread in the kitchen of the former school. They also bake sesame cumin flatbread and are working on a third variety.

Their flatbread is cut into pieces and served as a snack.

They plan to add more ovens to the cafeteria-gym, said production manager Mike Jones.

Granola is their biggest seller with their greatest sales generated from their website — columbiacountybread.com.

Michael got into making granola while working with flax seeds and bread. Lyn Genet, of New York City, was searching for flax granola and connected with Michael through a third-party. Genet started ordering his granola, wrote a book called “The Plan” recommended it to her clients and appeared on the Dr. Oz show. “After that, it went crazy,” said Michael of sales. They still ship granola to her and her clients.

Their flax-based granola which is high in good fatty acids can be custom-ordered. Granola varieties include cranberry walnut, fruit and berry, apple cinnamon, pumpkin spice and a new red, white and blueberry for July 4.

Their online sales cover the U.S. and Canada along with customers in England, France and Italy.

Columbia County Bread and Granola also sells its products at the Lewisburg Farmers Market on Wednesdays, the Ferry Street Growers Market on Saturdays in Danville, Bloom Naturally and hopes to sell at Bloom Naturally’s new Danville store. Their products are also sold in Philadelphia and New York City.

The Montour County site includes a print shop where they print T-shirts, tote bags and other promotional items, a room for sprouting and a room for packaging.

Sprouting is a three-day process where organic wheat is soaked in water and agitated and rinsed with more fresh water until it sprouts. They then grind it and make a mash with a sourdough starter.

Their country wheat bread is the most popular item. They can add all kinds of toppings to it, including sesame, poppy seed, flax, cranberry, walnuts, organic oats, organic sunflowers, pumpkin seeds and more.

Michael founded the business in 2008 after moving to Bloomsburg and discovering baked bread was lacking at the local farmers market. He began baking bread in his kitchen. Michael Perakovich, his first employee, figured out how to make bread without flour.

With the business currently employing 13, Michael said he would hire more employees as needed.

Email comments to kblackledge@thedanvillenews.com.

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