When food carts began to spread across San Francisco like some kind of tasty parasite, one local blogger joked that the next step would be for culinarians to start simply throwing food at people. They weren't far off, if Bread SRSLY's Sadie Scheffer is any indication.
Each week, Scheffer bakes up dozens of loaves of gluten- , dairy- and egg-free bread - in flavors from sourdough to fig-and-fennel - and hops on her bicycle to deliver them in San Francisco and the East Bay.
She also recently launched a line of only-in-San Francisco sandwiches, such as "The Flying Machine," with pork belly, arugula, and apple butter on savory slices of gingerbread, or "The Candyman," with pickled apples, black-bean cake, beet salsa, and yogurt on cornbread.
After coming to San Francisco in 2009 to be an artist, Scheffer embarked on her gluten-free baking career out of -- what else -- romance. "I had a crush on someone who was gluten-free, and I was trying to woo him," she laughs.
A doctor had told Scheffer to stop eating gluten -- the protein in wheat, rye, and barley that makes some people sick -- when she was 8, but she didn't feel any better when she tried it. A year ago, though, she went gluten-free again, and found relief from life-long stomach aches.
Before long, Scheffer developed a reliable gluten-free bread recipe, based on grains like sorghum, rice, and millet. One of her other day jobs, working the Serendipity Farms booth at the Fort Mason farmers market, gives her access to a bounty of fruits and oddments to flavor her breads. She began taking orders and delivering loaves last August.
Even though San Francisco is famous for its sourdough, gluten-free sourdough bread was unheard of here until Scheffer began developing her own, wild-captured starter. The dough is fermented for about 24 hours, giving it time to develop an authentically sour flavor.
Scheffer's goal this year is to set up shop at one of San Francisco's farmers markets. Long-term, she'd like to open her own bakery with a dedicated gluten-free kitchen where other bakers could work cooperatively. Selling her bread in stores isn't likely -- pricing her $8-a-loaf breads for retail markets would make them exorbitantly expensive, she says.
In the meantime, Scheffer estimates she logs about 30 miles a week on her bicycle, delivering bread and meeting customers.
"I'm getting a lot faster on my bike. It feels great," she says. "I feel like I've changed shape, which counteracts all the bread I've been eating."