For years, 350° Bakery was just Barb Reale and Janie Crawford, cooking their goods out of the kitchen at Piper’s Pub. This weekend, 350° Bakery got a home of its own.
Reale and Crawford have been baking together for years. The two are middle school friends who both moved to Pittsburgh for college. Neither of them studied baking; Reale has a degree in graphic design and Crawford a master’s in teaching.
It was always their plan to open a business together, though neither thought it would be a bakery. After the two started baking cookie baskets — most significantly at Piper’s Pub, where Reale worked as a server — demand grew for their treats. Eventually, the pub asked the duo to make desserts for the restaurant. A few years later, they had their first wholesale client: Constellation Coffee.
With the help of a New York-based consulting company, 350° Bakery grew. Reale and Crawford were able to hire staff (and stop working 90 hour weeks). They were brought on to work with Big Burrito Restaurant group catering, and asked provide baked goods for a farmers market in Washington D.C.
In 2017, Reale and Crawford found the permanent location of 350° Bakery, an old tire shop in the South Side Slopes. Though Pittsburghers were clamoring for the bakery to open, it was a slow process; for a few years, Reale and Crawford used the space just for the kitchen. Two and a half years after they found the building, Reale and Crawford officially opened the front part of the garage as the bakery.
Now, in addition to distributing baked goods three times a week to 19 locations across the city, the 350° Bakery storefront is open on Saturdays and Sundays. The shop will sell all of the bakery’s favorites — oatmeal creme pies, scones, hand pies — along with an expanded menu that includes sugar buns (the 350° version of doughnuts), sticky buns, and eventually, croissants. Coffee from Redhawk and tea will be available to accompany the sweet treats. Breakfast sandwiches will also be available.
But even as the bakery grows, the bakery doesn't plan to stop selling goods wholesale. “It’s where we came from,” explains Crawford. “Those are our roots.”
The bakers are particularly excited about the addition of fruit pies to their menu. “I’m really proud of our crust,” says Crawford, who describes it as a perfected, simple butter crust. Like most items on the menu, the recipe is a result of old fashioned trial-and-error.
Reale is quick to note that they are giving themselves “time to grow into things.” For now, the bakery is only open weekend mornings from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., and in time, the duo will add weekday hours.