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Baking up memories with ‘Bread Babe and Cookie Dude’


It's been about a year now since COVID-19 took over our lives and changed them in so many ways. But, for some, it's been a good change.

Meet this week's neighbors, a mother-and-son team who bake to make ends meet! Jessica Ball is better-known as the “Bread Babe,” while her son, Kane, is the “Cookie Dude.” The family lives and bakes in Koshkonong.

Their little baking business began about six months after the start of the pandemic, when Jessica was itching to do something while homeschooling her three sons.

“I wrestled with this idea for a good five months before giving in and saying, ‘why not’” Jessica shared. And this duo has been busy ever since.

For the Bread Babe, it's all about artisan sourdough breads, pastries, rolls, buns, pies and scones to name a few of her offerings. There is a traditional sourdough loaf, or you can try one of the many flavored loaves like jalapeño Cheddar, everything bagel or cinnamon swirl, but tomato basil speaks to me.

The bread menu gets changed up periodically with flavors of the seasons, so there is bread for everyone. They are also testing recipes for gluten-free items for their menu and a commercial kitchen is in future plans. Until then you can find them at the Go Farm Farmers market in West Plains on Saturdays.

For Jessica, baking bread takes her back to her childhood, when the house smelled of bread baking and coming out hot, with butter close by to slather the loaf. It's that same memory that her boys will also have, and that's pretty special.

The other half of this team is 10-year-old Kane, who at the young age of 4 learned to make cookies by his Mom's side, along with his brothers. So, when Kane wanted to make some extra money, it was Mom's idea to team up and profit from their love of baking.

Kane does all his own baking now and has even invented his own cookie recipe, combining his favorite cookies into one. I see a bright future for this young man.

Time in the kitchen is good therapy for this self-taught team, baking staples and memories. Like many of the neighbors’ offerings I've featured, their sourdough bread has been a big hit and I couldn't be happier that this long-lost craft is so popular now — and thanks to all the bakers around here, a new generation can savor it, too. There is more to sourdough than just bread! 

Through this series, we've met so many people baking and cooking to get by, it's so inspiring, to say the least. West Plains may be the hub to the surrounding communities, but we are all neighbors, and neighbors support each other.

I want to thank all who have ordered from the cooks and bakers you've read about here, and I hope you will continue to support them, as it supports all of us. In tough times, we get tougher!

I'm happy to share a recipe from the Bread Babe, and one from the Cookie Dude too. Be sure to look them up on Facebook @breadbabecookiedude for their full menu and delivery dates.

Thank you, Ball family, for letting me share your cute story! Good luck, and I'll take a loaf of tomato basil bread please! 


From Jessica Ball

1/2 cup starter

1 1/2 cups warm water

2 cups all purpose flour

2 cups bread flour

1 tablespoon salt

The night before bake day, around 7 p.m.:

Add starter, water, flour and salt (in that order) together in a tall bowl. Using your hands, mix the dough until all flour is incorporated. Let rest for 30 mins. 

Over the next 2 hours you are going to stretch and fold your dough every 30 mins. 

Think of your dough as a compass: Start with the north side and reach under the dough and from the bottom, pull that corner of dough up and over the rest of the dough. Then turn your bowl, complete the same method on all three other points. 

Do this again 3 more times every 30 minutes for a total of 2 hours. 

When complete, cover dough with a kitchen towel and let rest overnight, no more than 12 hours. 

Next morning:

Pour dough out onto counter and let rest again for 30 minutes. 

Then shape dough creating folds like you did the night before. Once you have folded the dough over itself from all four points, then start at one end and roll the dough up. The shape will be similar to that of a hoagie bun. 

Place dough in a floured basket or a bowl with a floured towel. Proof for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. If you are short on time you can proof in the fridge for 6 to 8 hours. 

Preheat oven and Dutch oven with lid to 400 degrees.

Dump proofed dough out onto parchment paper and score bread with a sharp knife or razor.

Place in Dutch oven with lid on and bake for 28 minutes. Then remove lid and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes, depending on darkness and crust texture. 

Remove from oven and take out of Dutch oven and try to let cool before slicing. 


From Kane Ball

1 cup sourdough starter 

1 cup peanut butter 

1/2 cup butter soft

1 cup brown sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups all purpose flour

1 cup white chocolate chips

1 cup dark chocolate chips

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together brown sugar, peanut butter, vanilla and butter for 3 minutes on medium. Add in starter and eggs. Mix on low until combined.

Then add baking soda, baking powder, salt and flour and mix on low until combined. Add chocolates and mix until combined again.

Use a cookie scoop to scoop dough into balls.

At this point you have the option to freeze or bake. When baking, bake at 350 degrees for 9 to 10 mins. When cookies are done sprinkle with sea salt.

If you freeze cookie dough, add 3 to 6 minutes to your baking time.


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