All photos courtesy of Jason Heisserer
Jason Heisserer’s weekdays as Head of School at the CWE’s Crossroads College Preparatory School are, as you might imagine, more than jam-packed, especially during the pandemic. So when the weekends roll around, this educator retreats to his kitchen to bake bread and pastries for his artisanal micro-bakery—breadcraft.stl—offering sourdough breads and other bakery items to local customers.
Jason has lived in the CWE for about 17 years. He loves the proximity to all that the neighborhood has to offer, including the architecture and Forest Park. “I love St. Louis,” he said, “even with its complicated history.”
Jason earned his doctorate in education and began his teaching career as a high school English teacher (he continues to teach an English class at Crossroads). He went on to become an assistant principal, then a principal in local public schools. Jason has been Head of School at Crossroads for the past 7 years. He mentioned that he has a strong interest in justice and equity in schools.
Jason posts photos of his baked items on Facebook and Instagram. On his Facebook posts he includes a quote about bread or baking. For the post above, he quoted Wendell Berry: “Eaters…must understand that eating takes place inescapably in the world, that it is an inescapably agricultural act, and that how we eat determines, to a considerable extent, how the world is used.”
“I am an avid reader and regular journal keeper,” Jason explained. “I find quotes to be inspiring and thought-provoking. Since baking, particularly bread, feels like part of something much bigger—given the history and ubiquity of bread across time and cultures—I like to think about it from different perspectives.”
Jason started baking bread in July, 2019, long before the shut-down made sourdough starter so trendy. A friend suggested he pick up a particular bread-making book, which Jason read cover-to-cover. He then ordered every supply the book mentioned, and dug in.
Following his first attempt, he wrote this in his journal: “There isn’t much flavor in this bread.” He felt motivated then to learn all he could about different types of flour and fermentation, picking up more books about bread, listening to podcasts, and watching YouTube videos. He also signed up for online bread-baking classes on MasterClass.
After watching a “random” YouTube video, Jason ordered a Komo Mill and began to mill his own flour, some of which is added to each loaf. “My favorite bread is 100% whole wheat, with my own hand-milled flour, and a little olive oil and local honey too.”
Jason is also a big fan of desserts—of any kind, he says. “My favorite is ice cream,” he said. How about the seriously scumptious-looking coffee ice cream shown above?
He started baking cookies, such as the lavender cookies above, and brownies, below, “for the joy and generosity they inspire.”
Jason bakes treats for the staff at Crossroads, and before COVID19, would bake for the students too. He’s also donated bread and cookie subscriptions to fundraising events that benefit the school.
Whenever Jason bakes a quick bread, sourdough, or dessert, he posts a photo on Instagram and Facebook. “Folks who are interested in ordering (which is always delightful and a surprise),” he added, “can direct message on Instagram (his preferred method of contact).” Most breads are around $8 to $10, cookies are available in packages of 6 for $15 to $16.50.
Since his role as Head of School at Crossroads occupies most of his time, he fulfills orders when he can. Items can be picked up at his CWE home.
Thanks to Jason Heisserer for all the beautiful photos which he takes in his kitchen window, and for sharing his love of baking.
P.S. – This post came about in what has become a typical neighborhood encounter. I was leafing through a bread-baking book at Provisions St. Louis when proprietor Debra Hunter asked if I knew Jason. I looked up breadcraft.stl and was able to connect. I am so glad I can share his story with you.