LMNOP Bakery’s Origins Are as Wholesome as They Get

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What started out as a wildly successful home-based baking business is now a brick-and-mortar dream come true for a Katonah bread baker.

Katonah resident Anne Mayhew, who gained local fame for baking sourdough loaves from regionally sourced, freshly milled flour in her home kitchen, has opened a brick-and-mortar bakery in downtown Katonah. Quaint, petite, and infinitely welcoming, LMNOP Bakery offers uber-fresh breads, pastries, pretzels, and cookies, plus light bites, coffee, beer, wine, and kombucha on tap — along with a number of café tables to sit and savor it all.

LMNOP is a dream come true for Mayhew, and the back story to this happy-ending baking story is as nourishing, sweet, and satisfying as the goods for sale on the shop’s shelves, which were handcrafted by her husband, Jesse, from reclaimed walnut slabs gifted by Katonah neighbors.

 

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The idea for a bakery in her hometown began to take shape when Mayhew was home with twin baby girls. Like most new moms, she believed that to give them the best possible start in life, she would have to pay close attention to everything that went into their tiny bodies. And, as ambitious and nutrition-conscious moms often do, Mayhew chose to forgo the convenience of jarred fruit and vegetable purées in favor of homemade baby food. That, in turn, got her thinking about what may be the most fundamental building block of a person’s diet: bread.

So, like any Fulbright scholar worth her salt, Mayhew got a book on the subject. It was a cookbook, so while her girls napped back then in 2015, she played in the kitchen. “It’s very addictive,” she says. “You take three ingredients — flour, water, and salt — and it’s like magic, somewhere between science and art.”

Having studied painting and drawing at Parsons Paris and in rural India, and working as a milliner and costume designer at the Metropolitan Opera and on Broadway in her late 20s, that type of alchemy was right up her alley.

The more Mayhew tinkered with bread making, the more she read about the early beginnings of her newfound medium. She devoured a life-altering book about the importance of grain to ancient communities and local economies and acquired eye-opening information about conventional flour.

 

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“It’s milled about two years prior to sale,” she says, “and it’s stripped of all its nutrient-dense germ, to make it shelf-stable.” She became consumed with the idea of baking with the freshest and heathiest flour she could get her hands on, as the white stuff at the supermarket was no longer cutting it.

Mayhew discovered that fresh grain was available at the Union Square Greenmarket, so she started making trips to Manhattan, filling her backpack and using a small mill to grind rye and wheat berries herself. Soon after, she signed up for fresh-flour deliveries, and her husband, Jesse, born and bred in Westchester, built an extra oven in the backyard.

Still not able to satisfy her hunger to create and a growing desire to support local grain producers, Mayhew made a pilgrimage to Wild Hive Farm, about an hour north in Clinton Corners, where regionally grown, organic grain is milled in small batches and made into flour. She finally had enough of the resource she’d been craving at her fingertips, so her passion for the lost art of bread making really began to take shape.

“There are so many variables to the ingredients… the flour, water, and salt, and I kept messing around with time and temperature,” Mayhew recalls. She also began experimenting with different varieties of bread — some with oatmeal stout, others with spent brewhouse grains — but the essence of her loaves was, and still is, simple sourdough. “It’s not the sourdough you buy commercially,” she explains, and it doesn’t taste sour either. “It just refers to the oldest way of making bread, where you rely on natural leavening present on the grain and in the air, instead of adding yeast.”

 

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Mayhew calls this “the lazy way of making bread,” as it requires just a few minutes of hand mixing, followed by 12 to 36 hours of rising and fermenting. “The longer it ferments, the more flavorful it is,” she notes, “and easier to digest.”

With her craft continuing to refine, her young girls in school, and word spreading about what she was doing on a serene, wooded street in Katonah, she and Jesse expanded their kitchen to accommodate two large bread-baking ovens and a walk-in refrigerator.

In addition, visits to Wild Hive Farm increased dramatically: At the height of her home-based business, Mayhew traveled there every three weeks, loading up her minivan with around 600 pounds of newly milled flour per trip. This allowed her to whip up an average of 50 loaves per day for farmers’ markets, local gourmet shops, and online orders (left for customers at a number of drop spots around Westchester).

All baking for LMNOP takes places at her new shop now, which opened in late October 2022, and was truly a dream come true for this artisan who has not stopped dreaming. Her apron dusty with flour, she envisions the possibilities of reviving the community oven of old, in which folks would bring homemade dough to the village center to be fired alongside that of their neighbors. “Perhaps a mobile oven,” she considers.

 

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Thinking beyond her own backyard, Mayhew sits on the advisory board of the Northeast Grainshed, which is committed to building a local food chain by connecting regional farms, mills, and malthouses with craft food and beverages.

When she’s not baking or manning the counters of  LMNOP Bakery, Mayhew enjoys being outdoors on local hiking trails or the beaches of Montauk. She also wishes there was more time for a vegetable garden or to try new recipes with her husband, Jesse, the way they used to.

Knowing that taking LMNOP Bakery to the next level would result in less downtime, Mayhew openly admits that she’s “kinda ambitious” and that she longs to make her family proud. “I want to show my kids that they can do anything they put their minds to,” and that fresh, wholesome goodness should be within everyone’s reach.

 

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LMNOP Bakery
25 Katonah Ave, Katonah; 914.603.5420

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