By Charlie Warner, Special to the Independent
Marilyn Wilson by day is an accountant. In the evenings, however, she is an expert baker, selling and delivering baguettes to locals around town.
Laguna Baguettes, now in its third operational month, provides customers with fresh, authentically made bread delivered to their door in a fashionable bread bag.
“I couldn’t get a decent baguette anywhere in the area,” said Wilson.
With plenty of travel experience, Wilson pined for a proper French baguette. Over the past three years, Wilson has been seeking advice about technique and flavor from bakeries, and mastering her craft. She worked hard to get a high level of consistency for her future customers. “It’s all about practice,” she said.
Wilson is a big fan of Moulin in Laguna, but prefers the bread out of the Moulin in Newport Beach.
To properly bake a baguette, a steam-injected oven is required, along with complex knowledge of the chemical makeup of bread and how to control the flavor of the baguette, which varies in sourness depending on how long the yeast ferments.
Wilson was able to acquire a specialized oven due to the enactment of the state Cottage Food Act, which allows individuals to prepare and package certain foods from their home kitchens. Wilson was able to obtain the proper permit and satisfy the appropriate health regulations, and is now fully operational out of her own home.
“In a nutshell, it’s fun and gratifying to see the surprise and smiles of those to whom I deliver,” she said. Wilson typically makes the dough 48 hours ahead of baking, which allows the bread to properly ferment.
Wilson’s customers should be smiling wider as she has started working with LCA Wines to include a bottle of wine to accompany the fresh bread. Laguna Culinary Arts, which started in Laguna Beach but relocated to Costa Mesa a few years ago, offers vintages from several countries.
Wilson, a 40-year resident, is looking to the future. “I can see this isn’t a multi-million dollar business; I’m doing this because I love it.” So far, she delivers the bread herself. If demand picks up, she said she will look for someone to make the deliveries while she makes more batches of baguettes.
Recently, there has been a huge surge in home deliveries thanks to apps such as Uber and Lyft that operate as independent taxis. Now, specialized apps like Postmates and DoorDash provide consumers with delivered food to their homes from restaurants that don’t necessarily deliver food. Wilson’s operation is a throwback in a sense, much like the milkman of yesteryear, hand delivering her own product from home to home.
Wilson uses recycled long sleeve dress shirts to double as cloth bread bags. She takes the sleeves of the shirt and sews one end shut, effectively making a bag. Her neighbor does the sewing for her.
In January, Wilson hopes to make deliveries to local hotels, so visitors as well as locals can enjoy her handiwork. Currently, she delivers twice a day. Her goal is 20 times a day. Baguettes are $6, baked or partially baked.
To order: visit lagunabaguettes.com.
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