Welcome to the Creative Crust Bakery! The Crust is an independent, family-run, free-form bakery; not a factory, franchise or chain. We are enthusiastic bakers, dedicated to the art and craft of creative baking. We create real food using simple, pure and high quality ingredients.

IT'S WARM IN OUR BAKERY!

And WOW does it smell good. Come on in and shake those winter blues. Enjoy some of our great coffee or choose from our wide variety of teas. Have a cookie or enjoy some heart warming Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese Sandwich.

You'll feel better for the visit.
These delicious Blueberry Danishs are HUGE!! Paul hand laminates the butter into a rich dough and fills them with our own Cream Cheese filling. You will love these. Big enough for 2.

Croissants!



It's been quite a long time since we made croissants. Which is odd because we really love them. There's nothing better for Sunday breakfast.

Croissants are quite time consuming. They require numerous hand rollings of cold, hard and buttery slabs of dough to produce a flaky and delicious croissant.

At this time, our croissants are a Saturday specialty only! If you must have them, please call ahead to check availability as supplies are limited.

Triple Chocolate Cinnamon Quick Bread

Amanda has outdone herself with this amazing creation. A chocolate lovers dream come true!

The Coffee Bar!

We love a great cup of coffee! We are serving our coffee in lots of different ways, at the Crust. Air Pot, Single Drip, French Press and Cold Press. We know you will appreciate the time and care we put into ordering, roasting and creating a perfect cup of coffee, just for you! Check out the Tab at the top of the page to see more about our Coffee Bar.

Elisabeth has invented this coffee called The Atomic! A double shot of espresso served in a single drip of Ethiopian Longberry. And for your sweet tooth she created The Victorian Lady. She's keeping that lovely recipe a secret but it separates into 3 beautiful layers of delight.

What's For Lunch

Our fabulous pizzas are back for our lunch time crowd! All your favorite topping are back. We are making a limited number of pizzas every day so get here early and tuck in!

Spicy Black Bean and Tomato. Roasted Sweet Potato and Grilled Onion. And of course, Spinach Tomato Feta and Spinach Mushroom Feta.

We are also serving Hard Rolls and Hummus for only $1.35! What a great deal!!!

Every day, we will be serving our Creamy Tomato Soup with a generous serving of our fresh baked bread.

And what goes best with Tomato Soup? Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, of course. We make ours on a variety of breads and two different types of cheese. We butter and herb oil the sandwiches and lightly grill them in our hearth oven. When you order yours, we throw it back onto the stone until it is deliciously golden brown.

Bricks

No, not talking about our wholegrain breads, which are spectacularly delicious and soft! In honor of diet season, however, we'll refrain from any further mentioning of bread or Amanda's unbelievable cream tarts...Anyway, the "Bricks" refers to the lovely brick walls of our bakery interior. We made sure during renovation that these brick walls were preserved uncovered, cleaned up and sealed. One of these walls is almost 40 feet long and has served as our gallery. We have always planned on hanging some large beautiful photos of our bake stuff. Photos that make everyone start drooling and say, "I want THAT." Yes, that's the plan.

Instead we have filled the space with a variety of artwork - wood carvings, a sculptural installation of cardboard boxes, photography, snapshots of family vacations. Most of last year the wall displayed some of our used baking parchments that have an appearance strangely like the Shroud of Turin. This year we have a paper sculpture. A long flowing band of suspended plain brown paper. The flowing brown river as some have called it. Over the next few days, or weeks, we'll transform the undulating folds into a new form, and then another, and so on until it has run its course.

It's another creative process and perhaps a reflection on the nature of our creative business process - sometimes crunched and wrinkled, sometimes smooth and sweeping.

So come on in, have a cup of tea and a scone, and gaze.

A Little Story You Might Like To Read

Paul and I have been together for over 28 years. For most of that time we have been self employed. After both of us losing our jobs, one week before Christmas, 1988, with a new house, new car and baby on the way, we vowed to never rely any one else, ever again. We started a graphics company. Specs Industrial Graphics & Design. We started off doing small jobs and worked our way up to working for some pretty big clients. Paul airbrushed illustrations for the back of MagLite packaging. We designed and maintained 3 secure web sites for General Motors and American Isuzu Motors.

We started our business in Southern California and when the recession hit in 1991 we decided to downsize our business. We moved to Northwestern Pennsylvania where the cost of living is more than reasonable and we were able to keep our LA clients and pick up some great accounts in Erie.

Our life was crazy in a fun way. By the end of the 90s we were well into homeschooling our 3 girls and had acquired a few milking goats, two sheep, 50 chickens and a horse. We were remodeling an old farm house, doing math on the kitchen table, teaching ourselves how to make cheese, goat milk soap and of course lots of bread. We mastered the homestead arts and were ready to move on to selling what we made. While still doing the graphic arts business we decided to start a craft business as well. A great way to teach the girls about business. From raw ingredients, to making, packaging and selling our goods. I went crazy! Herbal Tea soaps, lotions, body butters, lip balms, fragrance sprays and a very effective all natural insect spray. (Which, by the way is illegal to sell. We found that out the hard way!)

Paul designed all the packaging and an amazing Point Of Purchase web site. All of us went to craft fairs. One of the places we took our goods was to the Farmers Market in Erie. It was the only farmers market we had ever been to that didn't have any baked goods. So, of course we decided to take a few loaves of our bread. On our last day at the farmers market in Erie we sold 150 loafs of bread in 1-1/2 hours and 2 bars of soap.

We made the bread. We got paid for the bread. We got praised for the bread. OR... We create a brochure. We wait months to get paid for the brochure. We get criticized for a type-o in the brochure that 20 people proofed.

A bakery is born!

The transition from running a graphic arts business to operating a full service bakery was not a smooth one. Specs Industrial Graphics had very few requirements beyond our knowledge of the business. A computer, scanner, table, phone, fax machine, printer and a lot of blank CDs. You can have a graphics business in a closet.

Not so when it comes to a bakery. Buying and storing the 50 pound bags of flour takes up a huge amount of space. This knowledge is all in hindsight though. When we first started our bakery, we thought we could just convert our kitchen and start a bakery business.

We got our food license in June of 05. By August 1st we were looking for a bigger place. On September 1st we signed a lease to move our bakery 35 miles away into a corner of the historic Meadville Market House. In October we moved into our new house close to our new bakery. One year later we began looking for more space.

(A very good friend of ours took all our animals. They went to a great home.)

A developer had started to renovate a building located next to the Market House. A 5 unit condominium. Three store fronts and 2 upstairs living spaces. We thought it would be nice but when we looked at one of the gutted store fronts decided, with our knowledge of all the space our bakery really needed, that one of these store fronts was just too small. The developer was excited about the idea of his new project being a bakery. He drew up plans to combine 2 of the store fronts. Pretty nice, but still 'not big enough'.

"Let's look at the basement space," he says. We walked over to take a look. Dark, dirty and damp. "This guy must be nuts"!! was all we could think.

"Guaranteed!"
"Built to suit!"
He had just finished the first store front. We took a very close look. The dark, dirty, damp basement was bright, clean and dry.

"Let's do it"!
We looked up styles of bakeries on the internet and found one we really liked and asked if he could make it look like the picture.
"No problem!" He could do anything. And you know what? He did. The following March we were moving our equipment from the Market House into our new 2,000 sq. ft. facility. Complete with an 8' x 12' walk-in refrigerator.

In the Market House, we could mix, bake, prep and wait on customers, all at the same time. The new space was very different. Prep and mixing in the basement of one unit, customers and sales counter above the prep area and ovens and pizza production located upstairs in the other unit. We were all over the place and one of us had to man the counter at all times now. It took us a while to figure all this out. Four years later and we have it nailed. Of course it took having employees! This is both a blessing and a curse. We have extra hands but they are not us. None of them see the BIG picture. The work that is needed over the course of 24 hours. And, they are not us. By now, the five of us could just look at each other and grunt to communicate our needs but with employees it is so much harder. One change, like setting up a system for using and washing knives for sandwich making turns into a two week ordeal. Where are all the knives? Downstairs in the dirty dish rack. No, they need to be washed upstairs, dipped, dried and put back in the sandwich area. Where are all the knives? Where are all the knives? A silly little change like that and the whole place is up in arms over who is not doing it the new way. How do we get this fixed? Then finally it all works smooth until we hire a new person that decides that the knives we are using are not the right size and uses the bread slicing knife instead and leaves it sitting there waiting for the next sandwich order. Sitting there covered with hummus and turkey bits. AHHHH!

On that day we sold 150 loaves of bread in 1-1/2 hours we could have never imagined what our life would be like now. We are so very proud of our daughters for what they have accomplished and amazed with ourselves that we have been able to pull this off.

We are still learning and growing!

We are even able to get enough sleep, on most days.

Understanding 'Artisan'

Artisan Baking
When you think of a microbrewery you think of the knowledge that the brewmaster has about the unique beers that he or she brews - the care that goes into choosing the types of grains, hops, sugars and yeasts that are used for each beer. A pilsner, ale, stout or lager each have different ingredients and each has a unique process that the brewmaster has developed over years of personal experience. The long fermentation that allows the yeast to pull the flavors out of the grain. The combination of grains and the different types of hops. This knowledge makes each brewmaster a specialist of the craft.

The artisan baker, like the brewmaster, takes great care in choosing the types of grains, sugars and yeast that are used for each artisan bread. Keeping barms going for years, that pull the wild yeast out of the air to create regional sourdoughs. Blending together barms with poolishes to create complex French and Italian. Developing wheat barms and poolishes to coax the flavor out of the grain to create the artisan's unique Honey Wheat, Spent Grain, German Rye and Multigrain. Gently working the soft Ciabatta dough, that spends the night in a bath of extra virgin olive oil. The two day process of the biga that creates the desired texture and flavor of the Neapolitan dough, for hand tossed pizza.

Commercial bakeries are mainly concerned with pumping out as much bread as the machinery can produce. Grocery stores buy frozen, pre-shaped, dough that they then thaw and bake. (Baked fresh daily and made fresh daily are not the same!) For the artisan baker, the combinations of starters, poolishes and pates can cause a batch of bread to take anywhere from 12 to 48 hours. To the artisan baker it's not about pumping out as much bread as is possible, it about creating the best bread he or she can bake and then trying to make it even better the next time. Each loaf is shaped by hand and baked with care. Some breads are steamed while others are bathed in butter milk. Each bread is given it own unique look to compliment it's unique taste.

If you can't meet the artisan baker, it is not artisan bread.
Many chain grocery stores and chain bakeries use the term "Artisan" to describe their bread. That would be like a large commercial brewery claiming to make "Microbrewery Style" beer. The consumer would know better when it comes to beer. It's big business trying to tap into the microbrewery market. There are 1,505 microbreweries in the United States. There are 20 corporate brewers in the United States. How does this compare to the artisan bakery? There are 2,250 artisan bakeries in the United States, 10,355 wholesale bakeries producing bread and other bakery products and 7,470 retail bakeries. There is no confusion when it comes to microbrewed beer, but the 2,250 artisan bakeries have a lot of competition and that competition uses the term "Artisan" when there truly isn't anything "Artisan" about their bread. Sourdough flavoring does not make a sourdough bread. And, sourdough bread only has 3 ingredients - flour, water and salt. So, the next time you are in the grocery store and pick up that beautiful loaf of "Artisan Style" bread with it's 20 or so, unpronounceable ingredients and tell yourself that there isn't much difference between bread, ask yourself, WHO made this? WHY does this bread have those extra ingredients, that it doesn't need? WHERE is the corporation that is profiting from your purchase of that lovely faux Artisan Style bread. HOW hard would it be to stop at the Creative Crust and pick up some real Artisan Bread? AND while your at the Crust, you could pick up a few sweet treats for dessert. All made by a family that cares about it's creations and actually bakes - For Meadville.


Numbers to ponder.
1,525 - Breweries (20 Corporate Brewers)
3,000 - Wineries
20,075 - Bread Bakeries (2,250 Artisan Bakeries)
30,820 - Coffee Shops (21,400 Independently Owned Coffee Shops)
308,195,527 - United States Population