The idea for Carpinterian Michael Levin’s new business, The Happy Little Loaf, was formed while Levin was traveling in Europe early last year. 

As Covid-19 pandemic restrictions were increasing worldwide last spring, Levin was in Barcelona, where bakeries and markets were the only places still open. 

“Bread became the focus of my day,” Levin said. 

Levin said during lockdown in Spain there was not much to do except visit the local bakeries, which quickly became the highlight of his trip. 

When Levin moved to Carpinteria at the beginning of last year, he said he felt like there was something lacking in the bread and bakery experience in the area. He missed the fresh baked bread he had experienced in Europe. 

“They got me really excited about bread, and when I came back, I really missed that,” he said. 

On a trip to the grocery store to buy a can of Pilsbury ready-made dough, he realized that he could make a better product. 

“I’m not going to bash on them of course,” Levin joked. “People love them, but they’re  not exactly the best quality. I realized there was more that can be done here. People like those cans of dough. They like pulling out the dough and baking it. The whole experience is desirable, so why not do it with high quality ingredients and fresh dough?”

This realization would inspire Levin to start The Happy Little Loaf in March 2021. He wanted to provide customers with ready-to-bake bread so that they could have a more sensorial experience with the bread.  

“Dough is very tactile and soft,” he said. “You put it into the oven, and it transforms from this soft lump. It develops a crust, and it blooms and it fills the house with a delicious smell that often brings back fond memories. That kind of experience brings people together in the kitchen.”

Levin also stressed that baking the dough yourself allows it to be as fresh as possible. 

“Bread starts going stale within 20 to 30 minutes out of the oven, and it’s never better than it is at that moment,” Levin said. “For some breads, it’s significantly better when you pull it hot out of the oven – like French bread. When it’s still hot, you can crack open the brittle crust and it shatters and there is steam coming out of the bread – that is an amazing and rich experience.”

Levin sees The Happy Little Loaf as a dough-ery, which makes bread, pastry and cookie dough with high-quality organic and American brand ingredients. Each week, The Happy Little Loaf offers a feature box with doughs for bread, pastries and cookies.  Varieties change weekly and include Italian, French, American and Latin American styles.  

“There are things we make that you just can’t get anywhere else in Santa Barbara,”

Levin said. “One time we made Miso buttermilk biscuits for our Japanese style mystery box – you just can’t find those in the area.”

The Happy Little Loaf is just getting started, Levin said. For now, the team consists of Levin and Jacopo Giacopuzzi, Levin’s Italian best friend and business partner who brought with him valuable family recipes for pizzas, breadsticks and Focaccia bread. They prepare their products in a commercial kitchen in Goleta.

“For me, the most motivating part of starting The Happy Little Loaf is seeing happy customers,” Levin said. “We do all the delivering ourselves and often have really nice, direct interactions with customers. There is this one amazing customer, Kelly, who left us a little note with a doodle of our logo. She told us that when she made the dough, it was one of the rare times they could get their daughter and her daughter’s friends to put down their phones for half an hour.” 

“Kids really do respond to dough. It’s something fun that they can do with their parents, and it’s something that can bring a family closer together.”

To learn more about The Happy Little Loaf, visit thehappylittleloaf.com.

 

 

Brenda Tan is a columnist and a freelance writer. She is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in English, Writing and Literature, and Art History with an emphasis in Museum Studies at UCSB. She can be reached at brendatan321@gmail.com.

(1) comment

moonshot

Okay, Now where can one get this magical stuff?

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