Self-taught baker Ryan Goebel is serving up house-made cookies and bread.
By Raylyn Nicole, Photos courtesy of ThoroughBread
Ryan Goebel, owner, operator and baker of ThoroughBread, is truly a one-man show. An industry newcomer, he discovered his love of baking after his band broke up. Three years after encountering baking at age 29, Goebel has opened the doors of his South Austin bakery, ThoroughBread.
While the pivot from musician to baker might seem surprising, Goebel says memories of bread are sprinkled throughout his past. His drummer’s father-in-law would make the band homemade bread whenever they stayed with them, and once on a trip to Maine, Goebel experienced the taste of high-quality homemade sourdough bread. Later, he was grocery shopping and spotted bags of flour, realizing he had never purchased raw flour in his life.
“I bought a bag of flour, went home, found a bread recipe, realized I didn’t buy yeast, went back to the store and bought some yeast, brought it home, made the bread and it did what it was supposed to,” Goebel says. “It kind of blew my mind that with like no experience, I was able to make something that rose and turned into bread.”
He learned to make bread like he learned the guitar, by trial and error.
“One of the things that has occurred to me is that I’m really good at teaching myself stuff and I’ve never been good at being told what to do,” Goebel says. “It’s just not who I am.”
After baking that first loaf of bread, he was hooked, so he started studying to become a better baker. The preciseness of baking reminded Goebel of music, he says. Each ingredient must be weighed to the gram and his oven has to be strictly temperature-controlled. Despite the conformity in preparation, the end result is different each time.
“It felt like music. … When my last band, Crooks, would play, it was six guys doing exactly the same thing every night, but it was always different,” Goebel says.
Goebel describes the transition from discovering baking to opening a business as a slow process that started with him bringing a loaf of bread to parties and turned into him making bread deliveries to 75 people in his neighborhood.
“I was making enough money to pay rent, but [the business]wasn’t growing and I wasn’t actively trying to grow it, but I was always getting better at baking,” Goebel says. “I would attribute how good I am at making sourdough to that group of people because they were ruthless.”
Goebel currently has zero employees so he can keep his business costs as minimal as possible.
“I structured this purposefully as low investment, low overhead as possible,” Goebel says, “like everything is on my shoulders on purpose.”
He has plans to grow the business in the future when ThoroughBread outgrows the space it’s in, but right now, he plans to sell as much bread out of this building as he can.
Goebel uses all-organic flour in his products to ensure his customers are not consuming unsafe pesticides. His bread may cost a dollar more than that of his competitors, but he says it is worth avoiding unsafe chemicals.
The store, which opened Nov. 6, is open weekdays from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. except Mondays. ThoroughBread serves burritos, cookies and coffee in the morning, with breads ready for purchase by 2 p.m. Weekend hours vary.
“If anybody [is]reading this and thinks we are all bread, come get a cookie,” Goebels says. “It’ll change your life.”