: | The French Pastry School


The Bakery Boom
Flathead Beacon, Tristan Scott |
May 1, 2018
Uptown Hearth in downtown Columbia Falls is among the most recent additions to the region’s impressive batch of boulangeries


From the most basic ingredients — flour, salt, starter and water — bakers create wonders.

Whether it’s the decadent pastry that sweetens the sour of an early-morning rise, the cakes that become centerpieces of our celebrations, the anytime indulgences that carry us through the day, or the still-warm loaves so tempting we tear off a hunk before the unadorned bread even makes it home.

It all begins with age-old essentials, and the transformative potential of skill and craft that baking’s practitioners have honed for more than 30,000 years.

In the Flathead Valley these days, bakers are transforming more than just their ingredients as a bakery boom gets underway, with more small, independent businesses recasting properties into neighborhood hubs in the way only bakeries can — creating that place for the quick stop, the long linger, the daily ritual.

The region’s rising batch of bakeries is varied in style and scale. Many double as cafés with breakfast and lunch menus, and a few are even roving, billing themselves as “microbakeries” and peddling their goods at markets.

Such was the case of Finn Biscuit owner Terri Feury, a longtime, classically trained baker who for 16 years toiled in the back of the brick-and-mortar building she owns in downtown Columbia Falls while renting out the front as retail space. It was a favorite local secret, and when the fresh baked goods were ready for purchase, a wooden mannequin named Julia would strike a pose outside on the sidewalk, beckoning to passersby that the day’s bounty of small-batch breads and buns were ready for sale.