After introducing the authentic breads of France, Germany and Italy to the area in the early 1980s, the award-winning bakery and its owners have developed a special connection with those in their community and are influencing a new generation of bakers.
The bakery’s origins date back to 1983 when Christy Timon started Clear Flour, somewhat reluctantly as her husband Abe Faber describes it. Christy was running a bustling catering business at the time but her customers were increasingly asking about her amazing sourdough breads, with the crackling crusts, and wanting more. Abe shares, “at one point, customers began to ask what’s the name of your bakery?”
At the time, Christy already had the location in Brookline, part of greater Boston, where Clear Flour stands today. She was using the space for catering; however, she soon transitioned it to a wholesale bakery to keep up with demand for her bread. Abe, who knew Christy from art school, began to help out at the bakery making deliveries and doing what he could to relieve Christy who was working 16-hour days. He eventually started to manage more of the day-to-day operations as business grew and added retail sales to the mix. The couple married in 1989.
“No one was really doing what we were doing,” said Abe when referring to the artisan bread and traditional styles of baking that Clear Flour was becoming known for. Today, the bakery remains committed to using simple ingredients that they “scratch mix and hand shape into long fermented doughs for stone hearth baking.” Since the beginning, Clear Flour’s success can be attributed to its steadfast dedication to preserving the art and craft of bread making, honed in part from several trips the couple has taken to Europe over the years, which Abe says, “really opened our eyes to new flavors and textures.”
Spending a month in France on a few occasions, Abe and Christy would stop at small artisan bakeries to hang out, learn and observe. They were surprised at the openness and hospitality extended to them as bakers would often invite them in and share their “secrets.”
“Clear Flour is such a well-known, respected artisan bakery in the industry,” says Art Posch, a sales representative from General Mills Foodservice, which supplies the bakery with Harvest King flour. “Abe is very knowledgeable and loves his craft and takes a lot of pride in Clear Flour’s product and craftsmanship.”
Outside of Clear Flour, Abe has been a key player in the artisan baking community, particularly through his involvement with the Bread Bakers Guild of America, where he served on the board from 2000-2011.
During his tenure, he is credited for transforming the organization’s vision and capacity for education and was instrumental in developing a “community” of artisan bakers.
“My work with the Guild allowed me to give back and share all the knowledge we amassed during our decades of work at our own little corner bakery,” said Abe. “It provided the best of both worlds for us to be able to live and work on an intimate scale, never losing touch with our customers, but to still be connected with this fantastic network of bakers from around the world and be part of that great sharing that goes back hundreds of years in the traditions of our baking craft.”
As the bakery has grown and flourished over the years, so has its roots within the Brookline community. In fact, Abe and Christy recently received a prestigious community service award at the 7th Annual Brookline Youth Awards. They were recognized for their humanity with their daily donation of baked goods to area nonprofits who feed homeless and hungry people—something they don’t openly tout—as well as their role in mentoring young people, including budding bakers who have gone on to open their own successful businesses.
“By sticking by tried and true methods, honing their craft and sharing their deep knowledge of artisan baking, Abe and Christy are clearly influencing the next generation of bakers,” Posch says.