BRINGING THE TRADITION OF BREAD TO THE CITY
Photography by Tiffani Jones
In the past few years, food has taken on new meaning in Lakeland. Locals are finding a renewed appreciation of food and beverage as the craft experience and restaurant scene continue to grow. Jenn Smurr’s Born & Bread Bakehouse has given many Lakelanders a reason to arrive at the Lakeland Downtown Farmers Curb Market well before it even opens each Saturday, and has drawn in many visitors from outside of the city to get a taste of their own. After an internship with artisanal bread maker Zak the Baker in Miami, Jenn returned to Lakeland to start Born & Bread Bakehouse. As she continues to sell out at the Downtown Farmers Curb Market every Saturday morning, it’s fair to say Born & Bread’s cruffins are the most sought-after baked goods in all of Lakeland.
The Lakelander: What inspired you to create Born & Bread?
Jenn: Well, for years I had been on a quest for purpose. Over the last five, I simply fell in love with cooking. In fact, every vacation now is pretty much planned around food and what I’ll eat in between “seeing the sites.” But the moment bread “clicked” for me was in Paris last spring, at a standingroom-only cafe where I had the best bread and butter of my life.
TL: How long have you been working at your craft? How did you get started?
Jenn: I started hard-core studying bread in May of 2014. I’ve since apprenticed under renowned Miami baker Zak Stern of Zak the Baker and worked with David Bauer of Farm & Sparrow in Asheville, North Carolina. Bread is equal parts science and art. You can’t skip the studying. I’ll be forever learning.
TL: What’s unique about your creations?
Jenn: At the heart of what I make, it’s simple and traditional. Bread has been around for thousands of years and is one of the few foods that every culture has in common. My mission is to make traditional breads and pastries with flair. And since these types of breads require precise focus and are incredibly labor intense, they’re hard to find.
TL: What’s the most enticing part of living, working, and creating in Lakeland?
Jenn: The culture of community and togetherness. There are certain people every town needs: farmers, cobblers, bakers. The way I’ve been embraced is a sure sign that Lakeland was in need. Five years ago, I wanted to be anywhere but here, and then it became magnetic. It’s the people, all of y’all!
TL: Tell us a bit about your creative process. Walk us through how you get from an idea to your finished product.
Jenn: Ohhhhh, girl. Sometimes it’s as easy as thinking of my favorite foods, and other times I spend hours buried in books and websites looking for inspiration. Simply put, the process is: research, develop, test, eat, and repeat — until it’s perfect. I rely on trusted volunteer taste testers, but in the end, I’m my own worst critic.
BREAD HAS BEEN AROUND FOR THOUSANDS OF YEARS AND IS ONE OF THE FEW FOODS THAT EVERY CULTURE HAS IN COMMON. MY MISSION IS TO MAKE TRADITIONAL BREADS AND PASTRIES WITH FLAIR.
TL: Who, or what, is your muse?
Jenn: My closest friend is one of the most passionate people I’ve ever met. He strives for greatness, works hard, has a huge heart, and his integrity is enduring.
TL: Where can folks purchase your fine products?
Jenn: We will soon be finished with construction on our shop in Dixieland, but for now you can find goods at the Lakeland Downtown Farmers Curb Market on Saturday mornings at 8 a.m.
TL: Where’s your favorite place in Lakeland?
Jenn: The Lakeland Downtown Farmers Curb Market. This is what I imagine it was like to live in an old village. Farmers, artisans, and craftsmen worked all week to create their specialty, just to sell and barter at the weekly market. And people from all over would come to purchase and take part. Even after my space is finished, I can’t imagine not being a part of it. If you haven’t visited yet, come join and support all of our local artisans and creators!
To keep track of Born & Bread Bakehouse’s latest tasty delicacies,
go to facebook.com/bornandbreadbakehouse
and on Instagram at @bornandbreadfl.