Nika the Breadnik

There are few things homier than the smell of baking bread. Nika Franchi, also known as Breadnik, seems to carry a whiff of fresh bread around her like a peaceful aura.

“There’s something very nurturing and something very mothering about working with dough,” Franchi said.

That care and attention comes out in her work. Her bread became an instant hit at BriarPatch, but she wasn’t always a baker. Her professional life began as a classically trained musician. After that, she was a globetrotting translator.

“Four years ago, I didn’t know anything – the word yeast would throw me into a panic,” she laughed.

One day, she decided to try her hand at bread making. The first attempt was successful, as was a second, and then she failed. Franchi didn’t let that failure stop her. She kept working at it until she figured out the process and was happy with her creations.

Soon after, fate stepped in. She brought a loaf of her bread to her local farmers market in Ohio to give to a friend. The friend didn’t meet her, so Franchi decided to leave it with the market manager. The manager tried it and wanted more, and Breadnik was born.

When the economy turned south, Franchi became a full time bread baker, selling 150 loaves a week as well as selling soups and preserved foods.

As popular as her bread was in Ohio, her Nevada County friends said, “We want you here.” Originally from Moscow, Russia, Franchi had lived in many places, but Nevada County was home. She, her husband, and her youngest daughter decided to pack up their equipment and move. They now live outside of Grass Valley.

Currently, Breadnik produces around 150 loaves a week. All of the recipes are Franchi’s creations, based on the memories of breads consumed during vacations in Italy. The business is expanding sustainably, though that requires her to work a baker’s schedule – six days a week. “I’m always either mixing or baking,” she said.

Living locally and sustainably is one of Franchi’s main focuses. She’s working with local farmers and selling to the local markets. She’s also using available ingredients to create a bread of the month as well as her staple loaves, including the low gluten Russian Coriander Rye.

“With my bread, I reflect the … seasons,” she explained. “It’s a lot more meaningful to do something that’s local. It’s a lot better for my soul, too.”

More information on Breadnik can be found at her blog, her Facebook page, or by calling (530) 913-9673.

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