Written by: Wellsley Kesel
Every Wednesday afternoon, freshly baked breads and pastries are brought to Blackbird Coffee shop, straight out of the oven of a Milledgeville local. Luke Opperman is the owner of Our Big Oak bread company, a bakery business that offers its products to the greater Milledgeville and Macon areas.
“I’ve baked bread from an early age with my mom, and always sought out great bakeries when traveling,” said Opperman of what inspired him to start the business. Opperman has been selling his breads at the Milledgeville Green Market since April, as well as the Macon Mulberry Market with local farmers like Babe and Sage’s community-supported agriculture. After finding success there, Opperman decided to make his products available online.
To order, customers have the ability to visit the website and choose from an array of breads and pastry items to be picked up from Blackbird Coffee every Wednesday afternoon, the same day they come out of the oven.“It’s a really cool way to bring in the community and provide the local farmers with a space to grow their business,” said Blackbird manager Bailey Warr, who Opperman credits as being an outstanding supporter since first partnering with Blackbird.
“Right now this is a solo part-time project for me, baking two days a week and working hard to earn repeat customers through easy online ordering and expanding the variety of products we offer.” said Opperman, who manages to balance the task of being the sole owner and employee.
For students who miss a homemade baked good every once in awhile, Our Big Oak products can’t get fresher. “I’m really focused on understanding what ingredients and processes contribute the best flavors and textures to our fresh breads.” said Opperman, who uses a specific process to get the highest quality product.
The sourdough bread, one of Opperman’s personal favorites, begins from a starter culture that is kept active daily with organic whole wheat flour and water. About 14 hours before baking, the final dough is started using starter, water, salt, and organic flour, and develop the fermentation and gluten over the first six hours. After resting the dough, the loaves are formed and are left to rise until baking for an hour.
Due to being licensed with the Georgia Department of Agriculture as a Cottage Foods operation, Our Big Oak is able to start small and test products and demand while still having the ability to bake in a home kitchen. Word of the homebaked goods are spreading within the Georgia College community, piquing student’s curiosity in how to get their hands on this exclusive bread.
“I know a few people who have ordered some [bread] and have raved about it. I’m excited to order some of my own and see what the big deal is about!” said GC sophomore Stephanie Rogers.
To place an order or learn more about upcoming farmers’ markets that Our Big Oak will be attending, visit ourbigoak.com.
(Feature image by: Wellsley Kesel / Staff Photographer)