Tampa restaurants know where to go for sourdough

Christina Cann and her husband, Brett Wiewiora, say they are getting back to the roots of bread-making at their family-owned bakery and sandwich house in Seminole Heights.

Gulf Coast Sourdough Sandwich House is leading a sandwich revolution by putting a new spin on an ancient way of baking bread. Restaurants across the Bay Area have taken notice.

Shortly after the couple moved to Tampa from Pennsylvania, they started selling their baked goods at the Ybor City Farmer's Market.

"We've had a really great response from the community. People have really loved our breads," Christina said.

Brett's been baking since he was a teenager and says, "Sourdough is a very involved process, there's a lot to it, but once you learn it, it's like this magic thing that happens."

All of the bread they make starts with a sourdough base, but their flavor experimentation is what sets them apart.

"We've been inspired a lot by the craft beer movement. We kind of see bread in a similar place as where beer was in the 1970s and '80s, where a lot of big brands are just churning out the same stuff. But people like us are interested in getting back to the roots of what bread is," Christina explained.

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One of the perks of having a family-owned business is the time they get to spend together. The couple's two young daughters are often found helping out at the bakery. Their older daughter, Julia, came up with the name for one of their signature items, known as the Fly By, a baked roll of dough stuffed with things like cheese, meat, and vegetables.

Brett says his all-time favorite is their turmeric and black pepper bread.

"I particularly like it when we bake it at a high temperature with steam which gives it this really nice golden crust. I, even at home, will do a turmeric bread with a PB&J and it makes it feel like a grown-up PB&J," he said.

The couple says the most important ingredient in their artisan loaves is the starter: a combination of locally-sourced wild yeasts and different strands of bacteria, similar to that in yogurt.

"It's a very ancient way to make bread and inherently local, it's very much a flavor of Tampa Bay in every loaf that we do," Brett said.

The other important ingredient is time.

"The long fermentation is what develops flavor, it's what makes bread good for you again. We're going back to the roots of bread making," he explained.

Gulf Coast Sourdough bread can be found in various restaurants and retail outlets throughout the Bay Area. The Gulf Coast Sourdough Sandwich House is located at 5214 N. Nebraska Avenue in Tampa.

LINK: To find out more visit www.gulfcoastsourdough.com.