Moonbelly Bakery

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moonbelly bakery
Photo by Gabriel Teague

Lucia Plumb-Reyes never anticipated that her East Sacramento business, Moonbelly Bakery, would become an overnight sensation. Yet that’s exactly what happened as word spread about her exceptional artisan breads and impossibly flaky croissants. “It quite immediately started drawing much more attention than what I was expecting,” says Plumb-Reyes. “I was envisioning a small neighborhood bakery where you could get freshly baked items. I wasn’t aiming to be a destination or for people to be driving from beyond the neighborhood.”

Then again, Plumb-Reyes never expected to be a baker in the first place. Years ago, while living in the dorms at Columbia University, she discovered her passion for the craft. “I would give myself permission to leave the library and go bake,” she recalls. “It was my reward for having done my work.” Before long, the self-taught baker was selling goodies to fellow students, honing her skills along the way. “That coincided with my realization that I didn’t want to stay in academia. So I graduated a year early to pursue food and baking.”

The baking bug took Plumb-Reyes across the country multiple times in her 20s as she pursued various restaurant, bakery and farm jobs. “I was young and pretty much willing to move anywhere,” she says, from Cape Cod to the San Juan Islands and several stops in between. When she and her husband decided to start a family, they returned to her hometown, Sacramento, where she set her sights on finally opening a bakery of her own.

Lucia Plumb-Reyes of Moonbelly Bakery
Lucia Plumb-Reyes of Moonbelly Bakery. Photo by Gabriel Teague.

At Moonbelly (the shop is named for a favorite term of endearment), Plumb-Reyes’s considerable baking skills are on full display thanks to the wide-open kitchen. It’s not unusual to see her folding butter into wide sheets of supple dough or wheeling racks of cardamom buns and almond croissants through the tidy commercial space.

“In most places I’ve worked, the production is hidden,” says Plumb-Reyes. “But being able to see the equipment, to see the tools, to see me pulling dough out of the mixer, I think there’s value in having that in the open.” The transparency reinforces the idea that human effort is behind every loaf, every pastry.

It also allows customers get a feel for the natural tempo of a working kitchen, which Plumb-Reyes believes has a lot in common with the art of dance. “I grew up dancing a lot—ballet, modern dance. Baking, for me, reminds me of rehearsal and performance rolled into one. There are motions that my body, my hands do. There are rhythms; there’s an order and a flow to the day. You set yourself up for the best possible performance. That’s how I think of it for my body and mind. It’s deeply personal.”

Moonbelly Bakery

6511 Folsom Blvd.;
moonbellybakery.com