Good Bites: Livermore’s Wingen Bakery on the Rise | East Bay Express
I arrived at Wingen Bakery after the morning rush. Baker and co-owner Aimee Wingen told me I missed a salty scone made with bacon, chives and Asiago cheese. “It’s usually the first to sell,” she said. Her prosciutto and plum brioche buns had also been flying off the shelves before she and her husband Bryan had a chance to eat one themselves. This combination of ingredients came to Aimee after hosting an Italian-style happy hour with prosciutto on the menu. “Every week I go to the South Berkeley Farmers Market, where I buy a lot of our fruit at Kashiwase Farms,” she said. With the extra fruit, she had made “a ton of plum jam” and figured out that the prosciutto, jam and brioche bread would make “a nice combination”.
The Wingen make loaves of sourdough bread and sourdough bagels too. I ordered the veggie bagel, which comes with herb cream cheese, avocado, cucumbers, and allium flowers. As well as setting up a pretty plate, you immediately see that the vegetables are fresh, spelled out with a bold capital “F”. My BLT sandwich – by far the best BLT I’ve had this century – was delayed because a local farmer had just delivered the lettuce. And in the bowl of summer vegetables, I discovered a new favorite: lemon cucumbers split like giant gems. Every vegetable in this bowl tasted as if it had just been cut from a stalk. Aimée finishes this elegant and rustic dish with generous dollops of goat cheese and crispy focaccia croutons.
Wingen Bakery won an audience last year at Bay Area Farmers’ Markets. What started out as an artisan bakery has evolved organically into their downtown Livermore storefront. “We posted little ads on Instagram,” Bryan said. “And we had a subway rack outside our house.” They wrote the names of the customers on bags of bread for people to collect at their convenience. In December, however, the Wingen learned that the Casse-Croute bakery was for sale. After renovating the space for a few months, they opened their bakery in June.
“I would describe us primarily as a sourdough bread bakery,” Aimee said, “but also a cafe. Bread is our staple and it’s all built around that, but it’s where people can. come and have coffee and a delicious scone, or they can come for lunch and have a sandwich and a salad. She called Wingen an artisan coffee because they make everything from jam and mayonnaise to breads and bakery products.
Aimee admitted that moving into a French bakery with a local audience turned some people’s expectations upside down. Currently there are no croissants on the menu. However, because so many customers requested them, they decided to develop a croissant program. “It’s a big demand here,” she said. “We love croissants, but it’s just not something we’ve done before, so we’re teaching ourselves with the help of some of our friends who are pastry chefs.” They inherited a large sheet laminator from the Casse-Croute Bakery. Now that the staff have settled in and the bread program is fully baked, they are ready to start using this laminator. “We did a few rounds of croissants,” said Aimee, but the technique needs to be changed before they appear on the menu.
Aimee and Bryan met at Homeroom, one of the restaurants that has reinvigorated Temescal’s dining scene and made parking much harder to find. Livermore may be 40 miles away, but the Wingen brought some of Oakland’s culinary spirit further inland. “There are a lot of restaurants in Oakland that are farm-to-table and bought locally – and they don’t even have to say it,” Aimee said. The people of Oakland have come to expect this and, perhaps, take all of these good products for granted. “Here we have posted on our website where we get our goods from. An unofficial mission statement on their webpage reads: “We believe every good bite starts with great ingredients, and that’s why we prioritize partnering with local farms and distributors who understand quality. . ”
Florescent Farm of Livermore supplies the coffee with lettuce, microgreens and other vegetables. Another sole proprietorship in town, JTM (Jeremy Troupe-Masi) Spices, supplies the seasoning blends. As Bryan honed his management skills at Homeroom, Aimee, who grew up in Livermore, spent time in the kitchen of another nearby restaurant, Range Life, run by Chef Bill Niles. “We’re an extension of that, doing something different during the day,” she said. “People see Range Life as a place for a special occasion. People can come [to Wingen Bakery] every day for their coffee and breakfast, and really getting used to delicious, hyperlocal food. ”