Little Wissota Bakehouse Launches Sourdough-Based Biz

by Bonni Knight, photos by Andrea Paulseth

THE POWER OF SOUR. Doreen Peterson fired up a wholesale bakehouse focusing on sourdough breads, English muffins, and other baked goods after she and her husband decided to move to the area to be near family.
THE POWER OF SOUR. Doreen Peterson fired up a wholesale bakehouse focusing on sourdough breads, English muffins, and other baked goods after she and her husband decided to move to the area to be near family.

I grew up during the early Wonder Bread Years. It was the bread that “builds strong bodies 12 ways” by stripping all the nutrients out and then re-enriching the bread with additives. But I grew up in California, and, while most mothers went with Wonder, my mom preferred California’s iconic sourdough loaves. When I was served Wonder at friends’ homes, I found the pillowy texture offensive. I’d roll the bread into little pills and eat the sandwich’s innards instead.

Since moving to Eau Claire, I have been pining for good rustic sourdough. So, at a recent farmer’s market, when I tasted a new locally made sourdough English muffin, I was delighted! These muffins were just the first tentative toe dipped into the local food scene by the newly established Little Wissota Bakehouse.

Doreen Peterson came up with the idea of creating a wholesale bakehouse focusing on sourdough breads, English muffins, and other baked goods after she and her husband decided to move to the area to be near family. She believes that launching the bakehouse has been an answer to a prayer. 

“I was praying for something to do with my hands that would benefit others, when the idea of a bakery hit me,” Doreen said. She also credits her husband for his effort and support.

This was to be no ordinary bread. Doreen, who worked in the insurance industry in a former life, has always loved giving her baking a healthy twist. Her passion is to create food products that are healthier, without giving up taste or flavor. She starts with un-bromated, unbleached, un-enriched flour. The magic happens when she adds a Turkey Red heritage flour, which she sources from a Wisconsin farmer. The flour is kept frozen to preserve its nutrients. She mixes in a stoneground, seven-grain blend, while shelled hemp adds some “chew and protein.” Every loaf of bread and every English muffin is currently hand-kneaded and rolled before it goes through a long, cool fermentation process. Even for her lemon bars, she squeezes the juices and grates the zest by hand. 

All this wonder happens in a commercial kitchen in the basement of the Dove Healthcare-Wissota Health & Regional Vent Center in Chippewa Falls. Doreen has been moved by the welcome she has received from the community. Everyone, including the health care center staff, vendors, grocers, and customers has been incredibly supportive, and business is booming! In fact, she finds herself working 12-hour days, which can be exhausting. Still, her dream is to grow the business, bringing in others with a similar eye for quality and a passion for baking. 

She currently produces sourdough English muffins and breads in three flavors (Original, Cinnamon Raisin +, and Everything), which are available in Eau Claire at Festival Foods (and coming soon to Woodman’s). At various summer farmers markets in the area, she offers a delicious variety of pastries, including cinnamon rolls, oatmeal cream pies, buttermilk blueberry muffins with lemon crunch, lemon bars, espresso brownies, sourdough tart cherry coffee cake, and sourdough chocolate cake. These treats can be found in Barron on Thursdays and in Chetek on Saturdays. In the winter, she will be at the Farmers Market at the Down To Earth Garden Center in Eau Claire, and more of her products will be offered later this year at select Festival stores.

This fall, she will serve her products at occasional pop-ups in the café at Dove Healthcare-Wissota Health & Regional Vent Center. Hopefully, Little Wissota Bakehouse’s wondrous bread and treats will soon be widely available throughout the region.

Learn more about the Little Wissota Bakehouse online at littlewissotabakehouse.com.