A Visit to BakeShop: Kim Boyce’s Whole Grain Bakery in Portland, Oregon
Who: Kim Boyce
Where: Portland, Oregon
Kim Boyce is a celebrated cookbook author and whole grain baker. (We’ve featured her James Beard award-winning cookbook Good to the Grain several times here on The Kitchn.) She recently opened a retail space, BakeShop, in a family neighborhood of North East Portland. Her confections are unbelievable and her cheerful attitude infectious.
I first met Kim a few years ago when I interviewed her about the process of creating her book. What could have been a routine interaction turned into an engrossing conversation about our mutual Southern California roots and the perks/challenges of moving to the Pacific Northwest. Kim brought me a jumble of the most salty/sweet cookies I’d ever had, and since then I’ve been hooked on her pastries.
Not only is Kim a fabulous pastry chef, having working for years at Campanile and Spago in Los Angeles, but she cares deeply about the healthful aspects of what goes into her products. When her children were young she discovered the myriad of whole grain flours beyond all–purpose, white and bleached and found the tastes she created were more interesting and wholesome. With this new notion in mind, she dove into all the standards—muffins, cakes, cookies, croissants, breads, pancakes—and eventually wrote her first cookbook.
Kim’s perfect, sumptuous, whole grain pastries have come full circle with the opening of Bake Shop last year in Portland, Oregon. We locals can now delight in a full bevy of options, from savory ricotta/leek tarts to figgy buckwheat scones and her now infamous salty/sweet chocolate slab cookies dotted with toasted pepitas and kosher salt. You can make many of these recipes at home from her book, but there’s such a pleasure in visiting Kim in the open space, sipping coffee while nibbling on a pastry, and gazing out the window.
Bakeshop is about 1,200 square feet of sun–drenched loveliness. The pale butter yellow walls and large window at the front make the pastries look amazing and customers feel warm and welcomed. Kim looked at several locations for her bakery, and eventually found an ideal neighborhood space, perfectly suited to her core point of view: to serve the best possible pastries directly to the people she knows.
The Secret Sauce
Kim’s secret isn’t a secret: she uses healthy, wholesome ingredients in her pastries. Her chocolate chip cookie recipe, for example, is made with whole wheat flour instead of the usual all-purpose. Health and whole grain ingredients aside, Kim’s pastries are tender, light and flavorful, with all the hallmarks of a superb pastry.
The Business Plan
Bakeshop distributes wholesale all over Portland, including to several restaurants and coffee shops. A local church group even has a recurring weekly order. Kim’s business grew primarily by word of mouth (Portland is a very talkative town!) – the buzz surrounding her cookbook and the outstanding, consistent quality of her baked goods got people’s attention. Kim is now able to connect with her customers (and fans!) in real life every day, and have in-person taste testers!
5 Quick Questions for Kim Boyce
The one thing you can’t live without?
A sturdy plastic bowl scraper to thoroughly mix ingredients and to scrape every last bit out of product out of a container. Also, my fish spatula — I use it at home for everything from flipping fried eggs to pancakes.
If you could spend a day with anyone, who would it be and why?
Lindsey Shere, the longtime pastry chef of Chez Panisse and bakery owner of Downtown Bakery & Creamery in Healdsburg. She’s been the pastry mentor that I had never met (until recently!) and I’d love to walk to farmers’ markets with her and talk about her years at Chez Panisse, pastry production and family.
If you were a pastry, which type would you be?
What do you drink with your confections?
Champagne, of course!
(Images: Leela Cyd Ross)