2014 Washington, D.C. Area Rising Star Artisans Evin and Evrim Dogu of Sub Rosa Bakery

2014 Washington, D.C. Area Rising Star Artisans Evin and Evrim Dogu of Sub Rosa Bakery
December 2014

Evrim Dogu and Evin Dogu are creating bread culture where there is none: Richmond, Virginia. At their Sub Rosa Bakery, Evrim is in charge of bread baking, and Evin oversees all things pastry. The brother-sister duo works directly with farmers to grow heirloom varieties of wheat, rye, and corn, which are then stone milled in-house and incorporated into the shop’s breads and pastries. The phrase itself—sub rosa—pertains to the underground way the bakery initially began, when Evrim and a friend started baking loaves in 2009, long before the brick and mortar opened in 2012. Bread was baked on an ad-hoc basis, whenever Evrim could takeover his father’s wood-fired pizza oven. Orders were taken by whispered word of mouth.

As exemplars for the baking community, their long-term goals include researching and presenting lost lineages of breads and baking techniques from Anatolia and the Fertile Crescent. They also collaborate with chefs, farmers, breeders, and historians to create a bread culture that’s rooted in tradition but open to innovation. The Dogus’ Turkish parents instilled this love of baking in them from an early age, sharing a culture in which bread is a part of daily life and where every neighborhood has a bread bakery that turns out dark, crisp loaves twice a day. Having originally pursued different career paths, the Dogus are now on a mission to spread their ideas and encourage baking education, and they are in the process of creating a lodging space to support stagiaires and traveling bakers.  


I Support: Circulos


Why: Their support of indigenous peoples and commitment to imparting a sense of personal responsibility for humanity's growing crisis.

Interview with Washington, D.C. Area Rising Star Artisan Evrim Dogu of Sub Rosa Bakery

Meha Desai: How did Sub Rosa Bakery come about?
Evrim Dogu:
I started as a travelling baker in 2009, and I opened my own shop in December 2012. We opened for four months before we had a fire, which forced us to close for renovation for nine months. We just reopened months ago.

MD: What’s the philosophy behind your baking?
The process has been to source grains directly from farmers. Some farmers from Kansas grow a nice Turkey Red Heirloom wheat, so I have been working with farmers to grow it here in Virginia. It’s a challenge, still. Our other grains like corn and rye have been more successful. We also mill grains here to keep the flavors and smell. That makes the grains’ appearance and texture different too. For our pastries, we use tempered sifted flour. It’s important for us that pastry moves in the direction of the bread as well. We do not use commercial yeast at all. It’s all-natural levain.

MD: How are you involved in the local culinary community?
I bought the building to live upstairs, setting up a room for interns and traveling bakers. I’m planning to get a bed and small kitchen and provide a space for stagiers. I have research projects and things that I want to use Sub Rosa as a vehicle for. I’m interested in the education, having community dinners, and the Turkey project which aims to categorize different varieties of grain. 

MD: What’s your favorite tool?
Plastic dough scraper

MD: And a tool you wish you had?
Grain auger and silo

MD: What's your five year plan?
There’s lots of potential for growth, and lots of room to expand. I want to build better relationships for securing grains.

MD: Do you have a favorite cookbook?
Mediterranean Grains and Greens: A Book of Savory, Sun-Drenched Recipes by Paula Wolfert

MD: And a favorite food resource?
My friend and baker Benjamin Burakoff

MD: Your most important kitchen rule is…
It doesn't matter what you do, only the quality of heart.

MD: Your favorite dish you’ve ever made…
Mulberry sarma—bulgur and chickpeas stuffed in young mulberry leaves.

MD: Where do you most want to go for culinary travel?
All over Turkey, Syria, and the Republic of Georgia. The origin of wheat and wine are found there. How could it be anywhere else?



Interview with Washington, D.C. Area Rising Star Artisan Evin Dogu of Sub Rosa Bakery

Korakot Suriya-arporn: How did you get your start in baking?
Evin Dogu: I was a big fan of pastries and baked goods growing up, but I never baked anything seriously other than chocolate chips cookies. About two years ago, I started staging at a couple of bakeries, like Buzz Bakery in Alexandria, Virginia, Farm and Sparrow in Asheville, North Carolina, and Bien Cuit in New York. The experience was very informative, but it was also difficult at times because I was brand new at it. I learned a lot, especially at such high-volume bakeries.

KS: Who’s your mentor?
ED: I guess the owner of Farm and Sparrow, Dave Bauer. I learned the vision of a business and my style of baking from him. But I’ve also learned a lot from the entire crew of the kitchens that I staged in, so it is hard to think of only one person.

KS: How does your Turkish background influence your pastries?
ED: Some of our pastries are influenced by that, most definitely the savory ones. We make borek, which is a traditional pastry filled with spiced ground lamb. We sprinkle some of our pastries with sesame and nigella seeds, which are Turkish in style. I also took my grandmother’s recipe for pogaca, which is a biscuit shortbread with a potato, feta, and onion filling, folded like empanadas. The dough technique for the pastries is definitely French, but the flavors are Turkish. I would say it’s 60 per cent French, and 40 per cent Turkish.

KS: What is the biggest challenge facing your bakery?
ED: After the reopening, it’s rehiring people and working in such a kitchen with high intensity and precision. I was in the kitchen all the time at first, but soon after I hired part-time help. I’m now in the front, as well as in the kitchen. It’s pretty challenging to be on the same page with my workers in both sections, but I love interacting with customers and I feel a stronger need to be in the front.

KS: What direction are you taking your pastries to in the upcoming year?
ED: I want to focus more on Middle Eastern flavor combinations, especially savory pastries, like Georgian pastries. I want to integrate more of their techniques as well, and also try to improve what we already have.

KS: What’s your five-year plan?
ED: That’s an interesting question. I see myself continuing to improve on my production work, as well as my managerial skills. I hope that I could have a break a little more, and not have to be on schedule that much. I would really love to participate in education programs with little kids. More like philanthropy work and creative projects. I love to be able to be more creative.