Each Friday, Portlanders receive deliveries of conchas, doughnuts, empanadas and marranitos, all made by hand from a baker who doesn't know how to use commercial yeast.
Cortney Morentin, founder and owner of La Reinita panadería urbana, fell in love with naturally leavened baking when she was gifted a sourdough starter 10 years ago. She followed that joy from Los Angeles to Portland and, in 2016, opened a pop-up bakery. Now, a decade after she made her first English muffin, she's planning to bake hundreds more to deliver across Portland as part of her community-supported bakery, or CSB.
From May through early August, subscribers will receive fresh-baked, fermented goods delivered to their doorstep once every two weeks. La Reinita's seasonal CSB will have the grab-bag charm of its better-known cousin, the CSA.
Those familiar with community-supported agriculture programs will understand the thrill of receiving an unknown assortment of produce each week, but the question of what to do with 20 rutabagas is either a challenge or simply a drag. Morentin's CSB deliveries will also remain mysteries until opened but promise variety and carb-filled pleasure every time. For $200 up front, subscribers will receive $25 worth of baked goods every two weeks to scarf down immediately or freeze for later.
As is the case with her weekly deliveries and semi-monthly pop-ups, Morentin's CSB will be rooted in seasonality.
"I use local ingredients to support the local economy, to support the local farmers, to keep the dollar here," she says, "supporting our own city and our own people."
For Morentin, seasonality also reflects where she is in the moment—what she's wondering, remembering, listening to, dancing to. The assortment of baked goods in the CSB deliveries will tell these temporal stories. One week, curiosity and experimentation will come through "Sesame and Its Many Forms." The next, notes of nostalgia from "A Day at the Panadería," an homage to sweet memories of trips to the bakery with her grandfather.
Morentin is driven by "feelings" in their many forms. It's why she posts videos of herself dancing cumbia in her apron on Instagram, and why the cookie crust that tops her sourdough brioche bun conchas will be spiced with cardamom one week and purpled with powdered wild blueberries the next. It is also the reason she is a baker.
"I was very happy when I baked–the crust, the tenderness, how it made the house smell," she says. "It's just a love story."
Like the good love stories, hers has grown truer with time. Morentin began baking professionally in 2016 when she moved to Portland and created Wyld Bread. As she built her community in Portland, she connected with other small business owners, many of whom shared her Mexican heritage. They asked her why she wasn't baking pan dulce, the bread she remembers eating with her grandfather. With reflection, reconnection and time, Morentin changed the name of her venture. Two years ago, Wyld Bread became La Reinita, or "little queen" in Spanish. Morentin clarifies that the name does not refer to her.
"The reason I named it La Reinita was to put a crown on my heritages," Morentin says. "This is a coming back to my identity and my bloodline and being connected to my family again."
It's important to Morentin that she celebrate both her heritage and her reverence for local, organic, naturally leavened products. As such, she knows that her pan dulces veer from what one would traditionally find in a panadería. This is intentional.
"'Urban bakery,' to me, means being unexpected in the world of panaderías," she says. "Not better or worse, just unexpected."
ORDER: Sign up for La Reinita delivery at lareinitapdx.com. The CSB launches May 5. Reservations now open.