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This family turned quarantine baking into a bread business

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In their pandemic-induced isolation, the Perez family turned to bread. Going against the grain of the sourdough craze, they started with a simple recipe for light and fluffy milk bread, consisting of flour, yeast, milk, salt, sugar and butter. As spring turned to summer, they continued kneading, rolling and baking, giving the loaves to friends and neighbors. When one person offered to pay for the bread, their small at-home business, much like dough, started to rise.

 

Siblings Vanessa, 18, and Jaime Jr., 16, decided to name the business Bread by Blanca after their mother. “I really wanted an alliteration,” said Vanessa, who attends St. Theresa Church in Ashburn with her family. “(My mom) didn’t want the credit because she wanted it to be reflective of us, but I feel like Bread by Jaime and Vanessa doesn’t have as much of a ring to it.” 

Now, their house frequently is filled with the smell of freshly baked bread as they complete around 30 orders a week. “I can’t concentrate sometimes,” said Jaime Sr. of the distractingly delicious aroma. Blanca prepares the dough in the morning, then after school Vanessa starts baking. Once the bread is out of the oven, Jaime Jr. hops in the car to deliver the baked goods. Though they now leave most of the bread eating to their clients, as they perfected the recipes, the whole family served as taste testers. 

Bread by Blanca sells loaves of white bread, its popular braided milk bread, garlic knots, brioche buns, and a combination pesto, marinara and cheese bread twisted into the shape of a star. Blanca’s high-fat, low-carb diet sparked the creation of keto pound cake and keto bagels. Sometimes they’ll offer seasonal breads, such as Irish soda bread and apple cider donuts. They also make conchas — Mexican sweet bread — using their great-grandmother’s recipe. 

“I have (conchas) a lot when we go to Mexico, but I honestly think the ones we make here are a lot better than the ones in Mexico,” said Jaime Jr., who attends St. Paul VI Catholic High School in Chantilly. 

The Perezes say staying home more and working on the business has brought them closer together over the past year. “Everything in this family is normally around food, and now it's more about the food that we make,” said Blanca. “In my opinion as a mom, it’s been a really good opportunity for them to understand how business works. I’m so proud of them.” 

Though Vanessa will leave for college in the fall, they still hope to continue Bread by Blanca. “I’m going to have to step up my baking game,” said Jaime Jr.

 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2021

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