Nestled near the Skagit Valley Airport and Cairnspring Mills in the heart of the Skagit Valley, you’ll find a hidden gem of a bakery. Water Tank Bakery creates wholesome bread, cookies, and other treats, prioritizing local ingredients and the process of long fermentation and sourdough levain. The result speaks for itself: bread and baked goods bursting with flavor and nutrition.
Rachael Sobczak is the owner and baker at Water Tank Bakery. She’s passionate about bringing exceptional food to her community and highlighting the abundance of the Skagit Valley. Water Tank Bakery’s bread flour is made from grain grown within 12 miles of the bakery, and the flour in their cookies is made from grain grown on the East side of the mountains and milled right next door – the Organic Edison All-Purpose Flour from Cairnspring Mills.
Photo courtesy of Cairnspring Mills
“We try to support the local grain economy and be a showcase for what is possible if you choose to source from a small mill,” Sobczak shares. “It’s worth it because of the quality of the flour, the nutrients that are still in it, the enzyme activity, and the way it works with the type of bread we make.”
And what a showcase it is. Water Tank Bakery produces all-naturally leavened bread, with the exception of one type of burger bun and specialty items like coffee cake. “The bulk of our bread production is a sourdough base,” Sobczak explains. “It’s a process that takes a long time and requires a lot of attention, but I think it’s a much tastier and more nutritious form of bread. We also make cookies, as well as granola and a seasonal pastry.”
Water Tank Bakery’s goods can be found from Seattle to Bellingham to the San Juan Islands, as well as in local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) boxes. In the winter, Boldly Grown Farm’s CSA features a Water Tank bread add-on, and in the summer, their bread finds a home in Viva Farms’ CSA.
Collaboration and connection are cornerstones of Water Tank Bakery. At the heart of Sobczak’s business is love – love of baking and love of community. And people have responded with incredible enthusiasm and support. “We’ve grown so quickly,” Sobczak says. “It’s been a combination of hard work on my end, community support, circumstances, timing, and the ability to take opportunities as they become available. I started baking professionally in 2007 at Breadfarm in Edison. I eventually decided to go back to school and get a Masters in Dietetics. I was plugging away at that and running a garden program at my kid’s elementary school when Covid hit.”
Photo courtesy of Water Tank Bakery
Photo courtesy of Water Tank Bakery
As it was for so many, Covid required Sobczak to change directions and find a new path. “I decided I was just going to see if I could find a place to bake for myself,” Sobczak recalls. “I started doing pop-ups and found a kitchen to rent in a school that was closed because of Covid. Then I got this opportunity to get a giant oven from Tom Douglas, the restauranteur from Seattle. Restaurants were shutting down, so I had access to affordable equipment. I feel very lucky. A lot of these opportunities happened through word of mouth, community, and being somebody who’s been working with local farms and food producers long enough to establish those relationships.”
These relationships have been key in Water Tank Bakery’s growth and success. “We have so much crop diversity here,” Subczak shares. “The work that’s been done with grain development at Breadlab and Cairnspring Mills is special. People appreciate it. It’s unique to be able to say to people that all the grain for this flour we’re using is from within 12 miles of the bakery.”
Sobczak takes great joy in feeding folks delicious, nutritious bread, cookies, and pastries. Taste the difference that care and local grains make by finding Water Tank Bakery goods at the University District Farmers Market, co-ops in Mount Vernon, Anacortes, Orcas Island, Lopez Island, and Bellingham, Headlands Farmstand in La Conner, and in Boldly Grown and Viva Farms’ CSAs. You can also stop by their storefront (11777 Water Tank Rd. Unit C Burlington, WA 98233) on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday from 12-6 pm and on Saturday and Sunday from 10 am-6pm.