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New Richmond bakery rides brioche craze

Mary Caudy, co-owner of Douville Bakery, shows off two loaves of brioche bread and her dough mixer at her downtown New Richmond shop. The specialty bread caught the eye of Lunds and Byerly's grocery stores and Douville Bakery has been a supplier ever since.

Mary and Bruce Caudy apparently want to disprove the old adage, "Man cannot live by bread alone."

The owners of Douville Bakery in downtown New Richmond switch among 300 to 350 bread recipes on a regular basis as part of their retail business. They frequent farmers' markets throughout the region, including New Richmond's, to sell their specialty breads to browsing customers.

But a chance meeting at recent food show in the Twin Cities has landed the local retailers a regular bread-making gig that could pay big dividends.

According to Mary Caudy, the bakery connected with Lunds and Byerly's grocery store officials a few months back. They brought a sampling of their products - including cookies, scones and breads - to the grocery store offices to see if they could cement an agreement to bake for the company.

The attempt didn't work, Caudy recalled, but it started the ball rolling.

When Caudy was selling bread at a local market in the fall, a customer commented on a loaf of brioche bread that Douville had for sale. The customer noted that it was impossible to find any stores that sold the bread with French origins.

"Right now brioche is really hot," Caudy said, "mostly because of Perkins restaurants and the commercials they were running."

The comment from the customer got Caudy to thinking and she called Lunds and Byerly's. The grocery company agreed to purchase loaves of brioche from the New Richmond bakery.

The bakery supplies brioche to all 21 Lunds and Byerly's stores in the region. Douville Bakery cooks up another batch of brioche and Bruce delivers the loaves every time the company runs out. The loaves are transported to the Lunds and Byerly's distribution center and then individual stores order what they want for their shelves.

Douville has made three different shipments since starting in December, Caudy said.

Caudy said she hand rolls and hand shapes each loaf. Brioche is rich in butter, eggs and milk.

"It's so nice to work with," she said. "It requires very little water to hold it together."

And the brioche is a hit with customers, Caudy said, because it's sweet and light.

"Out of all the breads I make, brioche is my favorite," she said.

It helps that the bread is part of Caudy's family heritage. Her grandmother was 100 percent French.

Amy Fouks, bakery category manager for Lund Food Holdings, Inc., the parent company for the stores, said she's thrilled with the Douville partnership.

"We're always looking for opportunities to add high quality offerings into our stores," she said. "When we're able to do that through local suppliers, it's even better. Mary and Bruce have been delightful to work with. They are very passionate about the high quality breads they create."

Fouks said the grocery stores have received positive feedback from customers who have purchased the brioche.

"Some of our customers also frequent farmer's markets where Douville Bakery sells bread in the summer and have thanked us for bringing this product into our stores," she said.

With Easter approaching, Fouks said she expects demand for the specialty bread to pick up.

"We still find brioche sales to be fairly holiday-driven," she said. Sales also were strong around Christmas.

Douville Bakery is an occasional storefront, which will be open to foot traffic for the week of Easter. The shop is also open from Thanksgiving to Christmas, and by appointment.

The business also caters meals and provides baked good for coffee shops and other retail outlets.