"We're groupies," said Cindy Santine of St. Paul, standing outside at the front of a long line at St. Agnes Bakery. Santine and about 75 others listened to baker/hawker Danny Klecko shout out a few flavors of the day -- Russian raisin rye, bride's bread, potato bacon scones -- at the bakery's March 7 sale.
The prices aren't as low as the $1 artisan breads at Lofthouse bakery outlet in Fridley (7350 Commerce Lane, 763-586-6241), but the Lofthouse is open weekdays only, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and only a few varieties are sold each day. For much more variety but at higher prices, try the monthly sales at St. Agnes (644 Olive St., St. Paul, 651-290-7633, www.saintagnesbaking.com).
Open from 10 a.m. to noon on the first Saturday of each month, the sale regularly attracts crowds waiting for the doors to open and release the yeasty aroma. More than 60 artisan breads and 30 pastries are made, as well as dog biscuits and flavored butter. Last month's special flavors included brown sugar baked bean, key lime breakfast bread, Jewish onion rye, peach pecan orange almond biscotti and Cajun turtle cookies.
Regular flavors include Hungarian raisin rye (made for the St. Paul Grill), ciabatta (made for Ruth's Chris Steak House in downtown Minneapolis) and St. Agnes' own Sweet City house bread.
Craig Bibeau of Coon Rapids buys a month's worth of bread at the sale and freezes most of it. "The zesto pesto bread makes the best grilled cheese sandwich in the world," he said.
Prices ranging from $3 to $6 are about the same as standard supermarket bread prices, but for comparable prices, buyers get bread with better flavor and texture, said Santine.