Our friends in New Jersey might have called Steve Jacobson “a made man.” He and his wife Sandy had built up a landscaping company to the point where it more or less ran itself, so he turned his attention to the same place as every other American once they have some free time: Netflix.
Steve liked cooking shows – their breads in particular. Not content merely to watch, he tried making a sourdough the old-fashioned way with water, flour and salt for leavening instead of yeast. The inaugural loaf was unremarkable. Steve proceeded to bake countless loaves until he could produce manna without fail: perfect, round sourdoughs with soft, airy centers and crunchy crusts. The Jacobsons began enjoying greater popularity among their friends and family than ever before.
“If I didn’t have to do anything else, I’d bake bread all day,” Steve once told Sandy. And upon realizing that he truly didn’t have to do anything else, Steve decided to bake bread all day. That is how Brick Oven Bakery in downtown Bismarck came to be.
“Steve still had a lot to learn before we were ready to open,” said Sandy Jacobson. “He enrolled at the San Francisco Baking Institute to learn the finer points of baking, where he also added a variety of new breads along with Danishes, croissants, sweet rolls, and other pastries to his repertoire.
“Brick Oven Bakery’s name is very literal. When we first started out we made do with a brick oven on a trailer until we could install our definitive oven in 2019. It was created by French artisans, shipped piece by piece to Bismarck, and then reassembled on-site by specialists who flew in from Spain. It’s the only wood-fired oven like it in the whole country. Controlling its temperature takes a lot of work, but there’s just no substitute for the traditional taste that can only come without convenience. The best things come to those who wait.
“Steve has used the same sourdough starter for five years now. Since the starter is technically alive, it’s traditional for a bakery to give theirs a name. Ours is ‘Gaston’ after my favorite Disney character. ‘No one’s slick as Gaston. No one’s quick as Gaston. No one’s neck’s as incredibly thick as Gaston’s!’ Plus it’s French, like our oven.
“We opened Brick Oven downtown because we wanted more than just a bakery. We wanted a cafe for people to stop by for breakfast and lunch, with patio seating and free Wi-Fi so they could hang out all day if they felt like it.
“For lunch we usually serve paninis on Steve’s signature sourdough, homemade knoephla soup with lots of heavy cream, and butter croissant sandwiches. I always recommend saving room for one of our cheese Danishes. They’re made with butter croissant dough and filled with our own cream cheese filling. If you’ve only had the cheese Danishes that come in boxes, you haven’t really had one yet.
“All of our coffee and espresso beans are roasted for us by Perk N Beans down the road. We serve dark French roast coffee, every variation of the latte you could possibly imagine, and we have made our own tea list with blends like ‘Paris Mist’ and ‘Paris Morning.’ I always enjoyed talking with the customers when I used to work in coffee shops a long time ago, so while Steve is out back baking I’m doing what I love as well!”
Brick Oven Bakery makes everything from scratch at 112 N 4th St in downtown Bismarck. You can learn more about them and order their inestimably good food online at brickovenbakerynd.com.
By David Scheller