Michele now mills grains from nearby AGC members A-Frame, Ben Penner, and Askegaard Farms into flour on-site, and bakes sourdough loaves she sells locally and ships all over the country.
Michele Huggins of Doughp Creations never dreamed of becoming a baker. When pressed for an origin story, she insists that bread found her—sounding somewhat surprised by the journey.
Career paths to nano-bakeries are never straight, and Michele’s is no exception. It includes an MBA and jobs as diverse as education and corporate finance in the urban setting of Minnesota’s Twin Cities. Her cottage enterprise grew out of a move, almost a decade ago, to Granite Falls, MN, a one-stoplight town two hours west of Minneapolis. Faced with the reality that small town life meant lots of experiments to create the multi-cultural tastes she missed and had readily available in her previous home, her new basement became a storehouse to more ferments than it could hold. She started with kefir and krauts, and eventually sourdough bread took command. In 2018 she launched Doughp Creations.
Moving to a place with just 2,700 people, 90% of them white, was daunting. Initially introducing herself as a consultant, Michele soon knew it would be difficult for her to establish a customer base. She’s connected to the community by volunteering with the local art center as treasurer and sits on several boards; feeding those members has contributed to breaking the ice. Samples of bread at the farmers’ market also made a bridge that helped spark conversations. A story in the local newspaper further spread the word of her work.
Shown below with her daughter, Michele now mills grains from nearby AGC members A-Frame, Ben Penner, and Askegaard Farms into flour on-site, and bakes sourdough loaves she sells locally and ships all over the country. During the pandemic she became a Neighbor Loaves baker, and she’s maintained the habit of making a dozen naturally-leavened loaves for her local food shelf most Wednesdays. Whether or not those loaves are paid for by the public, as the early-pandemic era program intended, Michele makes the bread. She says she’s glad to get homemade, preservative-free loaves in the hands of her neighbors. Another pandemic-born layer of work she’s continued is stone-grinding and selling fresh flour through her Etsy shop in addition to bread.
If you visit that virtual store, you’ll see Michele’s beadwork too. All of her products reflect a commitment to intention and work that her mother taught. “If you start out right, you end up right,” Michele’s mother said, and the words echo in her life. For her baking, this means beginning with excellent grains, grown thoughtfully by farmers she knows. Michele’s grateful for the connections she’s made through making bread, and through being a part of AGC.
“Everyone needs to eat, so it’s really cool to find my way in through food,” she said in a recent phone call while volunteering at the local art center—the place was very quiet, as can be the norm in winter.
The name of Michele’s company, Doughp Creations, reflects her growing up in the 90s, and loving hip-hop music. The name is a play on the word dope, a term for what’s good and fresh, and that phrase certainly describes what Michele makes. She likes to listen to her favorite music when she performs slap and folds, a method of strengthening dough to prepare it for baking by literally slapping and folding the mass on a counter.
You can witness Michele’s approach in a video from Pioneer PBS that shows her visiting and talking with farmer Luke Peterson, milling, kneading and baking in the kitchen, and also delivering Neighbor Loaves to the local food shelf. Take a look, and you’ll see the dedication and special approach Michele takes to what she does. It’s a fun preview of how good her sourdough bread classes will be when she starts them. Keep your eyes peeled.
We’re so grateful for Michele’s leadership in making regional grains happen in communities of varying sizes and geographies, and to have her as a dedicated part of this network!