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Koertner believes in and makes “real” bread

By Vinde Wells

vwells@oglecountynews.com

From green olive parmesan to cinnamon swirl raisin, Jennifer Koertner makes her breads the old-fashioned way.

“I believe in real bread,” Koertner said. “I believe in how bread is supposed to be, how it originated and how it started.”

She offers more than 20 kinds of bread at her business Jen’s Artisan Breads, at the Pinecrest Grove Community Center in Mt. Morris, and frequently adds more to her list.

“We’re always open to trying new things. We welcome creative suggestions,” she said.

Koertner and her employee Sarah Meacham share what Koertner calls a “passion for bread.”

“Sarah is my partner in bread crimes,” she joked.

Koertner comes by the passion honestly.

“My mother and my grandmothers were bakers,” she said. “I grew up with nothing comes out of a box. It was all homemade.”

A tour of duty in Europe while she was in the U.S. Army enhanced her appreciation for tried and true methods.

“I fell in love with real bread when I was stationed in Germany,” she said.

She started her business in 2013.

“After my girls went to school I needed a job and this was it,” she said.

The business’ move to Pinecrest Grove in October has boosted sales. “I have a lot more visibility,” Koertner said.

Her days start early. On Tuesday and Friday baking days, Koertner begins stirring up dough by 4 a.m., making 120 loaves per week.

She makes savory breads like green olive parmesan, fruited and sweet breads like cinnamon raisin swirl, neutral breads like country white, and specialty items such as biscotti and high octane bars.

All of her bread doughs are fermented for 15 to 24 hours before baking, allowing the flavors to blend and necessary chemical reactions to take place.

Koertner said she uses very little yeast, instead allowing the naturally occurring leavening in the flour to work.

The process means even those who are gluten-sensitive can eat her breads, she said.

After the breads are baked, Koertner delivers her products, which are ordered by individuals as well as Hazel’s Cafe & Chocolates in Oregon and the McKendrie Street Cafe, also at Pinecrest Grove.

Special orders are a large percentage of her business.

She offers her breads at local events, such as the summer concerts in downtown Mt. Morris, the farmer’s market in Oregon, and justly recently at the Byron indoor farmer’s market.

In April, Koertner will present a program at the Byron Public Library for National Grilled Cheese Day.

The breads can be ordered online at jensbread.com or picked up fresh on Tuesday and Friday at Hazel’s and McKendrie Street Cafe.

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