Twin Cities Baker Anne Andrus Has the Perfect Solution for Your Day-Old Bread

Anne Andrus of Honey and Rye in Minneapolis dishes on shopping local, growing up in a big family, and her favorite way to use up day-old bread.

Anne Andrus adores baguettes. "They're a staple in my life and what drew my passion for baking," she says. Her team at Honey and Rye—and its newer sister bakery, Bakehouse—whip up seasonally focused, nostalgic treats both savory and sweet. Andrus dishes on a few favorite local producers and leaving a desk job to start her own bakery. Plus, she shares a family-friendly, big-batch French toast that uses up all those pieces of stale bread stashed in your freezer.

Anne Andrus photo
Courtesy of Honey and Rye

Where did you grow up and how did you get into baking?

I grew up in central rural Minnesota, in a super-duper small town. My family is big: eight kids total. I don't even know how old I was when I started baking, but with so many siblings, it felt like we were cooking the whole day to feed everyone. The kitchen was a central location that I was always drawn to, and I loved sweet treats. Toll House chocolate chip cookies were an after-school go-to, and boxed brownies. On weekends, I'd bake monkey bread with my mom.

And what made you start baking professionally?

My parents have their own business; I'm a fourth-generation entrepreneur. I was working for a nonprofit fair trade certifying body in California, looking at where coffee beans are grown, their entire chain of custody, and making sure farmers are getting paid fair wages. It was a fulfilling mission, but ultimately a desk job wasn't for me. I enjoy being on my feet, being creative, and running my own show—that took me the longest to sort through. I wanted to work from my own values and navigate what's important to me, which stems back to good ingredients and knowing where your products come from.

Speaking of good ingredients, let's talk about the many local brands you stock at Honey and Rye! Those shelves are full!

That was a COVID silver lining. We used to have five tables in the bakery, which we removed to make space for our marketplace. It's been a nice addition for the neighborhood, too. We focus on local goods from women and BIPOC vendors. One of the many products I love are the roasted nuts from Isadore Nut Company; they're perfect for any charcuterie board or spread. And the owner, Tasya, employs people with developmental or intellectual disabilities. We also sell pizza dough, our sourdough starter, pie shells, cookie dough—it's been a fun way to grow our own line as well.

Honey and Rye opened in 2013. What led to opening Bakehouse in May, just down the street?

Yes, 10 years in October! Feels crazy. Even with organic, natural growth, after spending 10 years in the same 2,000-square foot building, we were busting at the seams. With Bakehouse, we're our own neighbor. It's a production kitchen, shop and classroom. At Bakehouse we lean into desserts, while Honey and Rye focuses on breakfast.

What are some customer favorites at Honey and Rye?

We don't have a line—we don't do short-order cooking—so we had to get creative with how to offer meal options versus just pastries. Our quiche is really popular, along with breakfast sandwiches; the cheddar-jalapeño scone is the most popular scone for our sandwiches.

Baked French Toast with Chocolate casserole
Carson Downing

On Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, you also offer individual portions of big, muffin-sized French toast, though the recipe you're sharing with our readers is a casserole-style take on the dish. Can you talk about the inspiration behind it?

It's so nice because it's so versatile. The Baked French Toast came from having extra loaves of bread, which I love—we have an issue, how do we solve it? As we were figuring out our numbers and how much to bake, the French toast allowed us to use up our sourdough or challah. The combination lends well to the recipe: You get some chew from sourdough, it keeps the body, while the challah absorbs liquid and breaks apart a little, making it soft and tender. You can use any type of bread, including baguette or pain de mie (enriched white bread) or brioche. The recipe has a good shelf life. If you don't eat it all, toss it in the fridge and warm it back up.

If I'm not a bakery, and I don't have tons of leftover bread around, any tips?

You can toss fresh bread cubes in an oven at 300° to dehydrate a little, but don't let them get too toasty.

What about different flavors and add-ins? Can you make it savory?

It's essentially a bread pudding. You can play with anything. Cinnamon, nutmeg, honey. Chocolate and banana. Sour cherry and white chocolate. It can be highly seasonal and an easy way to clean out your pantry. If we're making a peach and blueberry pie at the bakery, then peaches and blueberries could go in the French toast. As for savory, try kale, sausage, Swiss cheese, red pepper flakes, cheddar or bacon.

What are some of your favorite Minnesota bakeries?

River Rock Kitchen and Baking Company in St. Peter, Minnesota, focuses on local, from-scratch baking. In Minneapolis, Sun Street Breads is one of my favorites, and I'm impressed by Laune Bread's commitment to local ingredients.

This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

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