JBF Award Semifinalist Alison Pray
Alison Pray is the owner of Standard Baking Company, the pride of Portland, Maine. For over two decades, Standard has realized the need to stay ahead of the game and separate itself from other bakeries in the northeast.
Alison, her husband Matt James, and the rest of the Standard Baking crew handcrafts and bakes artisanal baked goods throughout the day in their 12 ton, stone deck oven, making sure to pay special attention to detail.
Standard Baking Company is able to be successful on both the retail and wholesale baking fronts. Initially, wholesale accounted for 65 percent of total sales, but now that has flipped. Alison and her dedicated group of bakers have been able to stay adaptable over time, ensuring the best of service to all customers.
Standard Baking Company truly lives up to its name, becoming a standard for using quality grains and flours in its products. They carefully select their ingredients for freshness, flavor, and nutritional value above all else. This means choosing organic, locally grown products when available and buying from small, family-owned suppliers whenever possible.
One of Alison Pray’s most popular products is her croissants, usually selling 200-300 every day. Standard’s croissant method was developed early on. The dough is laminated with 83% butterfat European-style butter, hand-rolled daily, and slowly fermented over 36 hours for complexity of flavor. The entire croissant process can take up to three days, but it pays off; in fact, Food & Wine recently named it one of the best croissants in America. Don’t sleep on Standard Baking Company’s other offerings, however, as they are all outstanding.
Speaking of Outstanding, Pray is a multiple-time semifinalist for the James Beard Foundation’s Outstanding Baker award, after being nominated back in 2015. Being nominated two out of the three years that the award category has existed is an incredible accomplishment, thanks in part to Pray’s passion for baking, which first developed when she became smitten with French bakeries following a European vacation she took after her college graduation.