Artisan breads and sweet treats, but make them gluten-free.
That’s the name of the game for Pittsburgh’s own Wild Rise Bakery, a gluten-free bakery founded by Oliver Pinder.
Wild Rise’s menu spans from savory sourdough, multigrain, and herby loaves and bagels to sweets like cinnamon raisin rolls, cookies, and tarts, and Pittsburghers can find Wild Rise goodies at various farmers markets and pop-ups throughout the city.
Recipes with African and Caribbean roots
Pinder started baking gluten-free goods when he lived in South Africa in 2013. He learned he was gluten-intolerant, and lucky for him, gluten-free flours were much more accessible and cost-effective there than in the U.S. “I have always been passionate about cooking, my mom is a caterer and baker and my father was a cook, so I decided to take my bread life into my own hands so to speak,” he says.
He attended culinary school at Capsicum Culinary Studio in South Africa where he learned the foundations of combining ingredients and of baking, and then he started experimenting with gluten-free baking on his own: “For getting a feel for the craft, my education began with experimenting with flour that was accessible to me, commingled with exploring the gluten-free internet world and the unparalleled work of bakers like Nicole Hunn [from the popular food blog, Gluten-Free on a Shoestring] and Alice Medrich [pastry chef, teacher, and author of the cookbook, “Flavor Flours: A New Way to Bake with Teff, Buckwheat, Sorghum, Other Whole & Ancient Grains, Nuts & Non-Wheat Flours”]. Most importantly…growing up watching my mom bake giant batches of bread by feel, measuring out the flour with her hands and eyes, I don’t think we even owned a measuring cup to be honest, that was its own lesson in navigating the world of cooking with a whole other sense than we are generally taught to use.”
Pinder’s “breadsperiments” are also inspired by his family’s Caribbean roots: “My family comes from Trinidad and Tobago and in my baking, I am always reaching back into my memory to flavors and methods and concepts of food that I grew up with as a child. That nostalgia for the food of home deeply influences how I cook and bake.”
Wild Rise’s olive and rosemary bread is an aromatic sorghum and brown rice loaf that’s speckled with sliced green olives and perfumed with fresh rosemary. It’s dense enough to stand up to toasting, and it’s chewy and earthy, a favorite in their house.
Their bagels are short and stout in stature, but not in flavor. You can choose from flavors like everything, onion, cinnamon raisin and sourdough or keep it simple and go with their plain option. Spread them thick with butter, cream cheese, or peanut butter, or top them with eggs, cheese, and veggies for a filling breakfast sandwich with no gluten in sight.
While their menu frequently changes, you’ll find your fair share of gluten-free sweets and treats at Wild Rise. Tarts flavored with ingredients like pear, cardamom, apples, ginger, and peaches, chocolate chip cookies, and cinnamon raisin rolls are just some of the options that Wild Rise sells to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Wild Rise Bakery, behind the scenes
The Wild Rise Bakery team is small. So small, in fact, that Pinder primarily makes the breads and goodies himself. That said, he does have some help.
Bekezela Mguni, founder of the Black Unicorn Library and Archive Project, is Pinder’s partner and helps with pickups, deliveries, and securing collaborations, like the Books and Bread event at the KLVN Coffee Lab in East Liberty in July.
Not only that, Pinder says that Mguni offers much-needed emotional support during “long hours and physically and emotionally taxing labor of starting a new Black-owned business.”
Since the farmers market season is soon coming to an end, Pinder is already generating ideas to continue growing his business: “Perhaps eventually having a brick-and-mortar space for production or a dual-purpose space similar to the Big Idea in Garfield that brings together our Books and Bread project alongside community building.”
Feeding the community, both physically and mentally, is important to Wild Rise, as Pinder looks to partner more with Mguni’s Black Unicorn Library and Archive Project, a Black- and queer-focused library organization.
Regardless of Wild Rise’s next venture, it’s clear that a love of creating unique, accessible gluten-free baked goods is at the heart of what they do. “We love to see the wonderful things you do with our bread and baked goods even if it’s just taunting your dogs by waving our chocolate chip cookies in front of their precious faces.”
Find Wild Rise Bakery
Pick up your Wild Rise orders at the Lawrenceville Farmers Market on Tuesdays 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. or at BOOM! Concepts on Fridays 7 a.m. to 9 a.m.
Deliveries are available for $5 and within 5 miles of 15208.