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The Artisan: A local baking company's jam game

The Artisan: A local baking company's jam game
Strawberry-basil jam from Red Bread is made with organic California ingredients. (Kate Kuo / Los Angeles Times)

The business of good bread can rise and fall and rise again as much as the dough itself, as small-batch bakeries often pop up like small revelations, then move, then happily reappear.

Witness Red Bread, the wonderful bakery that Rose and David Lawrence started in Los Angeles in 2011, delivering their boules by bicycle to their community. (Red Bread's etymology traces to Rose's human-rights work in law school.) After the bicycle came a stall in the Santa Monica farmers market and then, with help from a Kickstarter campaign, a tiny storefront in Culver City. The store closed in 2014, but Red Bread has continued to produce and deliver naturally leavened, whole grain organic breads and pastries and pies.

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What Red Bread also makes, and makes extremely well, is jam. Because what better to do with your slices of black sourdough toast than to load them with butter and strawberry-basil or blueberry-cinnamon jam.

"Jam is where we're being really creative right now," says Rose Lawrence, who also puts the stuff into Red Bread's little hand pies. She gets her fruit from local farmers, and recently has been experimenting with flavor pairings, making marmalade with kiwi and Oro Blanco citrus, infusing raspberry jam with rose geranium, and matching Cara Cara oranges with fennel. As Lawrence's bread is made with natural levain and whole grain flour (all milled at Pasadena's Grist & Toll, which also carries Red Bread's jams), it should not surprise you that her jam is made, batch by little batch, in copper pots: no refined sugar, no pectin.

What also shouldn't surprise you, getting back to the name, is that Red Bread designates 5% of each sale to fight hunger and gives directly to local food banks.

And speaking of names, what does the woman who describes her business as a "social justice organic kitchen" think about the word 'artisan'? "It's more of an action word now," Lawrence says.

All of which means that if you need a little more jam in your life — and who doesn't? — Red Bread's brilliant if migratory bakery has a few jars for you.

Jars of jam, $12, eatredbread.com, @redbread

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