Lenexa’s Ibis Bakery brings community together through bread
Ibises, a group of dark, long-legged wading birds, are known to eat in community. So it’s no surprise that when you walk into bustling Ibis Bakery — the bird’s namesake — on a Sunday morning, you’re greeted with tables full of patrons chatting, carefully-crafted pastries lining the counter, rustic hand-baked loaves filling the shelves, and busy bakers creating the hands-on, artisan bread that makes this bakery — started by Chris and Kate Matsch in the back of a coffee shop — unique.
What started nearly three years ago as a bread-and-toast operation in the back of adjacent Black Dog Coffeehouse owned by Chris’s parents, has turned into an energetic, small-batch bakery putting a unique, French-inspired spin on your average loaf.
“A lot of our stuff is done using very traditional methods, so that’s one of our core identities,” Chris says. “The style that we produce is very old-loaf style — the way people used to make bread — in big troughs, mixed by hand and formed.”
The difference in Ibis Bakery’s breads and croissants, though, is in the au levain name, a style that uses a mild sourdough starter that — after the complete 30-hour process — improves the flavor, yields a higher water content and renders the bread’s grains more digestible.
In addition to a traditional German-style rye bread, Ibis also bakes a cracked corn porridge bread, available February through October, utilizing an ancient Aztec and Mayan process called nixtamalization, during which locally-procured corn is soaked in an alkaline solution to bring out the natural flavor of the corn, cooked and then baked into the bread. The cracked corn porridge bread switches out for a holiday loaf, an oat porridge bread and a spiced rye loaf from November through Valentine’s Day.
Although Chris says Ibis’ cheese ciabatta and cranberry walnut breads are popular among customers, because of the time and thought put into each bread, “no one is more special than another.”
Ibis isn’t just about the bread. With trained bakers and pastry chefs, the bakery’s dynamic pastry program has products that rotate every couple weeks and are available daily at Black Dog Coffeehouse.
The bakery’s best-selling item is its Kouign Amann, a traditional pastry from Brittany, France that incorporates sugar and butter with a higher salt content that is laminated in layers and caramelizes as it bakes. A filled version of the popular product is available on Saturdays.
“What excites me about the pastries is one of the reasons we’re able to rotate them out and make them more dynamic,” Chris says. “That’s where we’re really able to showcase the ingredients we get from farms around the city.”
Because Ibis intentionally keeps production small — with a maximum threshold of 200-300 loaves daily — to ensure that the baker who starts with the bread is with it throughout its entire process, it doesn’t currently sell its bread at local stores. However, the bakery does have a stand at the Brookside Farmers’ Market on Saturdays, and at the Overland Park market on Wednesdays. They also supply to Plate in Brookside.
Ibis invites customers to participate in pizza night — a different, creative outlet for its bakers — on Tuesday nights starting at 6 p.m., at which customers typically have an option between a white pizza and a red pizza for $12 each.
“Most of our bakers have food backgrounds — so they’ve worked in restaurants — and we have an oven that sits idle in the evenings,” Chris says. “All of the ingredients feature whatever we get from the markets that weekend or from our farm connections.”
One pizza serves two people, and is available on a first-come, first-served basis, Chris says, usually selling out by 7 p.m.
Ibis Bakery plans to open a new facility on the northwest corner of 17th and Grand in downtown Kansas City next spring. Partnering with Messenger Coffee Company, the location will be a coffee roasting and bakery production facility where you’ll be able to see coffee being roasted, and where Ibis Bakery will mill its own flour from local farms to use in its pastries — in which Chris says the bakery is putting a lot of energy to create new items.