The monotony of the pandemic jettisoned two best friends with five children between them into a growing business they call Sourdough Mamas.

Ben Lomond neighbors Ashly Beck and Suzie Palmer began their journey early in the pandemic when a friend dropped a sourdough starter kit off. Curious, they began experimenting with what is a basically a living thing.

Instead of using baker’s yeast for leavening, sourdough bread uses a starter made of flour and water. The starter ferments over time, producing natural yeast and the slightly acidic flavor that sets sourdough apart

The sourdough fermentation process happens as two naturally occurring components of flour—yeast and lactobacillus (a type of healthy bacteria)—combine and grow.

This bubbly starter mixture requires regular “feedings” of additional flour and water, which increase its volume. When you are ready to use your starter, you add it to bread dough and let it rise—this produces bread that has a crusty outside and chewy inside with plenty of air pockets.

“We were home during the pandemic, and that’s what gave us the time,” says Ashly, who works as an endoscopy tech at Sutter. “We kind of mastered it, and it became popular very quickly.”

Putting their loaves into one basket

In February, Ashly and Suzie began selling their baked goods through their Facebook and Instagram sites.

“People would come to the house once a week to pick up their orders,” says Suzie, who also works as a hairstylist. “We make it all happen in our commercial kitchen (at home).”

Recently, however, the dynamic duo has teamed up with Erin Buchla, owner of the newly opened Cruise Coffee Café in the Cavallaro Transit Center in Scotts Valley. “We are forever grateful for the opportunity Erin has given us,” say Ashly and Suzie. “She’s taken us under her wing and helping us build our business.”

For now, Sourdough Mamas is focusing its baking skills on the café. “We’re putting all of our efforts, recipes, and bread to be carried exclusively at the café,” says Suzie. “But people still call us for orders, we’re pretty flexible.”
Suzie and Ashly are providing the café with delicious bagels, baguettes, sourdough loaves, chocolate sourdough, and pear/gorgonzola loaves.

A lot of production work

Using their two commercial ovens to bake, the duo goes through 300-400 pounds of flour each week. One loaf takes about three days to become ready to bake. “It’s like a baby,” says Ashly. “You have to take care of it.”

They drop off 14 loaves and 300 bagels at the café throughout the week to ensure freshness. Cruise Coffee will soon have a website that has a direct link to Sourdough Mamas so it will be easier to get personal orders.

The fledgling business is also open to catering special events. “It’s important to us to be part of the community,” says Suzie. “We would love for businesses to reach out to us.”

This week they provided goodies at a charity event for Bradley, a local boy who lost his prize Pokémon card collection. “When it comes to kids, it hits us,” says Ashly, noting that their five children are all under 8.

David Leland
David is a local resident, a writer, MSV Columnist and a heck of a nice guy who cares about our commUNITY