For love of sourdough

Kala Riddle shares her breads—and her baking knowledge—with the North State

Photo by Cathy Wagner

Kala Riddle came to Chico to study nutrition six years ago and today she is the owner of Untamed Bakeshop, a successful cottage business, baking unique whole grain products in her home. A member of the Chico Bread Guild, Riddle started out with Bread by Kala and two years ago opened Untamed. She’s a farmers’ market staple on Saturdays in Red Bluff and Wednesdays at the North Valley Plaza in Chico, selling sourdough bread, tortillas, granola and cookies. She is proud to offer wholesome and delicious baked goods made with only whole-grain flour and natural, local, organic ingredients. According to her website (, she’ll even trade for a loaf—make her an offer! Riddle loves what she does, and it shows in her nontraditional and fun creations. She also teaches workshops out of her bakeshop/home in Paradise and has one scheduled for May 11.

What do you teach in your workshops?

For now I am focusing on sourdough classes. My whole idea with it was that sourdough is really something that you need to get to know and it takes a lot of practice and trial and error. With this workshop, I wanted to give people a little package that could launch them past those years of figuring it out. Sourdough is a living, breathing organism; it changes with the seasons, the humidity in the air, there are lots of factors.

What kinds of cookies do you make?

Oh, I get creative with cookies—it’s fun! I did a triple ginger cookie around Christmas time. I’ve done lemon rosemary cookies. I made lilac sugar cookies that I had at the market this morning, just a total experiment. I just have fun with the flavors that I add and also the flour that I use. I don’t use white flour at all. I only use whole grain flour, and I use a variety of different whole grains because each one has a different flavor and a different texture and just different components. They’re really fun to play with and combine in different ways.

How do you come up with your flavor pairings?

I have an idea of what I like, and that’s been through years of being interested in food and where my food comes from, and experimenting. “Interesting” has always attracted me more than “classic.” I mean, take a chocolate chip cookie—I make a mint chocolate chip cookie where I take mint from my garden and infuse the butter with mint and it’s so much more interesting. It’s like a spearmint instead of peppermint and, to me, that’s always been like, “Oh, that’s fun!” and way more than just a chocolate chip cookie.

Do you have long-range plans to open a formal shop?

I’m just leaving the doors open and seeing where things take me. It’s been really great. Since I opened the door for just bread, I’ve had all these other doors open up that I wouldn’t even have expected, so I’m kind of like, “OK, let’s see what presents itself.”