#HomeGrownStories – Margaret Begg
Margaret Begg loves the science and beauty of artisan bread baking, especially sourdough bread. For the past twenty years, her bakery, Bakehouse Bread & Cookie Company, has provided delicious bread, baguettes, challahs, ciabattas, focaccias, cookies and pastries of every flavor in their downtown Troy bakery. Margaret focuses on high quality and nutritious ingredients as well as taste. In addition to baking a variety of bread and pastries, the Bakehouse also has an extensive menu of soups, salads, and sandwiches. Margaret is one-third of the local cooperative, The Farmer, The Miller, The Baker that grows, mills and bakes spelt in the southwestern region of Ohio. Margaret was recently interviewed for our #HomeGrownStories campaign.
On living in Miami County:
I have lived in Miami County for 34 years. I’m originally from California. My mother met my father when she was on a trip to San Diego; he was in the Navy then. We moved back to Ohio because my mother was from Lima and still had family in the area.
On working with sourdough and starting the Bakehouse Bread & Cookie Company:
My sister lived in Sacramento, California and she introduced me to sourdough bread. I fell in love with it! I knew I had to try and make it at home. I tried baking sourdough at home, but with babies and everyday life, it was difficult. I had little success for a long time. My husband and I opened Taggart’s On The Square in Troy in 1984 and I continued my pursuit of sourdough in the restaurant kitchen. In 1988 I took a two-week intensive artisan bread course at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. I also apprenticed under a French Master Baker at the National Baking Institute in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I was able to come home and bake better bread. I started selling it to the restaurant and eventually, I was loading up my car and driving around to farm stands and selling it. About 20 years ago we opened a bakery next to Taggart’s. I think it’s the location for Raise Your Brush today. In three years we were bursting out of the seams so we moved to our current location here on the Square.
On her part in the local collaboration: The Farmer, The Miller, The Baker:
About ten years or so ago, Troy started up a food cooperative. We hosted a night of potential farm vendors, which is how I met Dan Kremer from E.A.T. Food For Life Farm. He grows spelt grain, which he was selling to a company that sold them in grocery stores nationally, but he wanted to sell it locally. That’s when I got some of his spelt flour and starting testing it in bread and cookies. I was personally surprised they turned out so well, just because of the nature of spelt flour. It’s naturally a little sweet so you need very little honey to offset the bitterness. Then we contacted Bear’s Mill to grind the flour for us. They buy the grain from Dan and grind it into flour. Then we buy the flour and make the bread and cookies. We sell the bread and cookies back to Dan and Bear’s Mill and we sell them here.
What she loves about Miami County:
I love the sense of community. It’s very important to most residents of the county, which you can see by the folks that come downtown to support small businesses. We have wonderful events at the Troy-Hayner Cultural Center and we always come downtown for the concerts and symphonies in Troy. In downtown, you can move about so freely, anywhere you need to go you can get there. The bike path has always been one of my personal favorites. Watching the bike path grow has been amazing, especially for a town of this size. We go to Hobart Urban Nature Preserve at least three times a week for a walk. Garbry Big Woods Reserve is one of our other favorites, but we tend to pick a different park to walk at on the weekends.
The best selling item at Bakehouse and her personal favorite:
The Bakehouse Seven Grain Bread is our most popular bread. It’s very healthy with all the grains [whole wheat flour, millet, cracked wheat, cracked rye, flaxseeds, sunflower seeds, oats, buckwheat and cracked corn] and very nutritious. We don’t use emulsifiers, preservatives or other “shortcut” additives in our bread. My favorite, of course, is our sourdough bread.
Follow our storyteller and interviewer, Courtney Denning, at ThisOhioLife.com.