Baking perfection one ingredient at a time

At 550 degrees Fahrenheit, Stacey Habeck can create perfection. Three days a week the Greenbank resident wakes around 2 a.m., often before her roosters crow, before the sun’s first gleam shines over the horizon. She turns on her oven and heads back to bed to catch a last few winks.

Emerging from her house once more, she makes her way to an adjacent building on her wooded property. She enters the 20-by-30 foot building and warmth fills the air.

Welcome to mornings at Screaming Banshee Bakery.

For the last seven years, Habeck has had a passion for warm, soft on the inside, crusty good on the outside sourdough.

She creates old world style rustic breads, perfect for those who like it dark.

“I bake it like I like it,” she laughs.

She began Screaming Banshee out of her home kitchen after researching for her own baking needs. One morning, her addiction with bread creation hit home.

“There were loaves everywhere and I thought I had to be crazy,” Habeck said.

She brought eight loaves of bread with her on her first visit to the South Whidbey Tilth Farmer’s Market almost seven years ago. She sold out in five minutes, and was doubling and tripling her offerings in future visits.

Her friend and fellow Greenbank resident, Sally Jacobson, helped nurture the dream helping Habeck seek financial and material help to build a bakery. It was on a walk the two often shared that they came up with the name Screaming Banshee, at the time thinking it would be a cool name for a band.

Habeck now bakes around 300 loaves per week, and is her own delivery driver distributing to a few select locations around South Whidbey and a few caterers.

This woman, who is originally from North Dakota and who moved to Bremerton in the fourth grade, has an inexplicable infatuation with baking

“It’s just intriguing because it’s been a part of the world for so long,” she said. “If you believe in reincarnation — maybe I was a baker in another life.”

Her breads have a two-day creation process. By the bucket, every other day, she mixes starter dough. After two mixes, the dough is placed in a refrigerator overnight to let her “babies” develop. She has to take care. There is balance to the process, and as the seasons change, so can the temperament of her sourdough. The next day, the round loafs and long baguettes proof in baskets and bake free form. After an hour in the oven at 550 degrees, perfection emerges. Habeck sprays the oven with water to help darken the bread’s crust. Like the sun, the loaves rise to a golden hue and darken in their final moments.

Habeck creates white, wheat, rye sourdough, currently sticking to six different variations. There’s plain white, wheat with flax, seeded, rosemary, greek olive, and rustic. Fresh herbs, olives and spices give essence. Made with organic flour, she is working to make the breads completely organic. She maintains a wide repertoire of recipes and is constantly searching for more.

Habeck’s bakery is as rustic as the breads it helps bake. Greenbank resident Rich Hoyman built the building that was completed in 2000 after two years of construction. The oven, wall-length sink, and other kitchen fixtures come from the Oak Harbor School District. the pantry doors are refurbished garage doors. The back door is a recycled cedar fence. The lights and other fixtures are also recycled.

“I wanted to keep the building rustic too and be able to enjoy coming in here, and I do,” she said.

Habeck is the mother of three — Curtis, 13, Travis 20, and Sophie, 21 — and wife of over 20 years to Mark, a concrete worker. She likes gardening, flowers, loves to cook and, of course, bake.

She’s a self-described loner, a recluse who’s elfish smile and twinkling eyes can light up a room. Her laugh is as contagiously flowing as the aroma of her bread and her smile is as warm as a fresh loaf. She dreams of traveling to Europe and countries like Italy that have made bread famous.

“I used to be preoccupied with bread and couldn’t stop talking or thinking about it,” she said. “I’m much better now.”

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