Bountiful Blessings Bakery serves loaves filled with love

Bountiful Blessings Bakery serves loaves filled with love

July 11th, 2012 by Mike O'Neal in Local Regional News

Bountiful Blessings may not serve fishes with its loaves, but it does offer a "to die for" chicken salad.

"We've developed a tremendous lunch business," co-owner O.J. Miller said. "I attribute that to [my wife and business co-owner] Laura's chicken salad. People tell me it is 'absolutely the best' they've ever tasted."

Laura Miller prepares a variety of bread by hand each day.

Photo by Mike O’Neal

Opening a restaurant was not the Millers' intention when they built their two-story building about a mile south of LaFayette on U.S. Highway 27.

Miller said his wife started baking in the family's home kitchen in 2003. Over the course of about five years, she developed a regular clientele in the LaFayette area and at the Battlefield Farmers Market in Rock Spring who clamored for her breads and baked goods.

"It just kept growing," he said.

That led the couple to construct the bakery and retail outlet that opened in November 2008.

And just as their jellies and preserves, pies, cakes, breads and sandwiches are made from scratch, so too is the building.

"I've been in construction all my life," Miller said. "I started as a carpenter at 15."

He said the original idea was that the shop serve as an outlet, somewhat like a coffeehouse, for his wife's baked goods, particularly her cinnamon rolls and other pastries. Though unsuccessful as a coffee shop - "Some days I'd throw out the pots of coffee I'd made" - the space quickly became a hot spot for lunch and for those who crave and appreciate the taste of artisan bread.

Miller said some refer to their's as "the Mennonite" or "that Amish" bakery, but that is untrue. Though the Millers came to Walker County from a Mennonite community in Mississippi, they are now Pentecostals who attend Cooper Heights Church of God.

But, according to her husband, Laura Miller says it is that Anabaptist heritage that includes generations of Amish and Mennonites that helps make her loaves special.

"It's in our background," O.J. Miller said. "The ability my wife has and our work ethic is due to our heritage."

Part of that heritage was passed along when Laura Miller's grandmother taught her how, at the age of 12, to make and bake breads.

"Laura's grandmother taught her the 'feel' of bread," O.J. Miller said.

That feel is readily apparent when visiting the bakery, as open windows and doors allow clear views of the baker squeezing dough in her fingers or pressing it with a knuckle.

It is also evident in the two types of sourdough bread baked at the shop. One's starter is of Amish origin, the other of Mennonite. One takes 36 hours from raw ingredients to cooling a loaf after baking, the other goes into the oven after three hours. While similar, each is different in taste and texture.

Laura Miller now has a repertoire of about 125 recipes and looks to add more.

She bakes as many as 40 loaves each day - always including Ezekiel, sourdough and banana nut bread - and maintains a steady rotation of sweets, all while tending to a growing volume of take-out and eat-in diners.

And still, the Millers supply the local market. Their daughter Rosalyn not only helps with the baking, in the restaurant and shop, she also helps manage their stall at the Battlefield Farmers Market on Wednesday afternoons.

"We've truly been blessed," O.J. Miller said. "This is the Lord's doing."