How Gusto Bread Is Reimagining the Panadería
Arturo Enciso uses ancient techniques for his famous spelt cookies.
When it comes to baking and recipe development, most people look to the future: what ingredients are trending, what looks good on Instagram, what’s exciting and new enough to get customers to line up outside. However, for Arturo Enciso—the baker and cofounder behind Gusto Bread in Long Beach, California—he looks to the past.
“I get inspired by trying to merge worlds together in a way,” he says of his baking style, using ancient grains and techniques to update his version of a panadería.
It all began when Enciso came across a wood-fired cob oven in the garden space he previously shared with a neighbor. Though he had never really baked before, he was enamored. “It was just really a gorgeous thing to look at,” he says. “I felt like I kept wanting to use it, wanting to learn to use something like that for one reason or another.”
Whether it was a calling or just curiosity, Enciso doesn’t know—but he began reading books on baking and decided to try his hand at bread-making (now, he has an entire row of baking cookbooks lined up on a shelf behind him, and he proudly shows it off).
Though Gusto’s brick-and-mortar store opened in August 2020 during the pandemic, Gusto Bread existed long before that. “Early on, learning to bake was a really personal passion of mine,” he explains. Before baking, Enciso was in a band—and any moment not spent playing music was devoted to baking, so much so that bandmates and friends began asking about his bread. “We created this email list to friends and their friends, and it kind of just grew from there—people got the word out about this bread we were making,” he says.
Enciso and his partner of 10 years, Ana Belén Salatino, baked out of their Long Beach home (what he refers to as his “cottage bakery”), officially starting in 2017. At a certain point, among the shipments of pallets of flour, it became clear to the pair that they had outgrown their home bakery—which is when they made their way to 4th Street in Long Beach.
“It's taken on its own identity as a modern panadería,” Enciso explains. “I’m baking the breads that I grew up with in Mexican bakeries and doing a spin on those, but also merging these European style sourdoughs.”
When asked about his fascination with ancient grains and sourdough, Enciso is thoughtful. “This is humanity. It’s what built civilizations—ovens and, essentially, fermented bread,” he says. “When humans discovered bread, it was sourdough—wild yeast, fermented flour, and water, and so that's just the natural way.”
Enciso is obsessive about his ingredients. Despite making cacao-crusted conchas and four different types of loaves daily—among a sea of flatbreads, cornbread, and biscuits—the focus remains on simple ingredients. Even the cookies are wholegrain, with the choice of spelt or buckwheat.
“We love to educate people about the grains, because we are going out of our way to source top-notch products and high quality butters and flours,” Enciso says. “It's important to let people know that’s what they’re supporting and that’s what they’re eating.”
From word-of-mouth to a cottage bakery to a storefront with snaking lines that constantly sells out, it feels as though Enciso has answered the calling from the first cob oven he set his eyes on—use something old to learn something new—with great success.
“We’re paying homage to our ancestors and native ingredients,” Enciso says. “We want people to appreciate the thought that goes into these products, as well as our cultural backgrounds, too. It feels great to feel like the community welcomes that with open arms.”
Arturo Enciso’s Bang Bang Mexican Chocolate Spelt Cookies
- 2½ sticks of butter
- 1¾ cup cane sugar
- 1 large egg
- 2½ cups + 1 Tablespoon spelt flour
- 2½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¾ teaspoon baking soda
- 5 ounces Mexican chocolate discs (check package disc weight to determine quantity)
1. In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium until soft and creamy.
2. Add the egg and continue to mix until fully incorporated (about 1 minute). Turn the mixer off and scrape the sides of the bowl.
3. In a separate bowl combine the flour, salt, and baking soda. Then add the dries to the mixer with the butter, sugar and eggs and mix on low just until the dough comes together (be careful to not over mix—it's ok if there are still a bit of dry areas).
4. Roughly chop the Mexican chocolate discs so that you have a variety of sizes ranging from chips to finer shreds. Toss in the chopped chocolate and fold it into the dough quickly (mixer on low for 30-60 seconds).
5. Divide and shape the dough into 12 even balls (you can use a 2-ounce scoop).
6. Chill the cookie dough for a minimum of 15-20 minutes (can also be refrigerated for up to 1 day or frozen to bake at a later date).
7. Once ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare a cookie sheet and line it with parchment paper. Arrange the cookies evenly on the pan with 3 inches of space between them.
8. Place the pan in the oven and bake for 12 minutes. Then remove from the oven and bang the pan once on the counter. Return to oven for 3 minutes. Then repeat: bang the pan on the counter once and bake for a final 3-5 minutes. (Total bake time: 18-20 minutes)
9. Please note that wholegrain spelt browns differently than all purpose or white flour. Look for slightly brown edges for a more chewy cookie. For a crispier cookie, you can bake a little longer (2-4 minutes).
10. Place the pan on a wire rack and allow the cookies to cool completely before enjoying! Fully cooled cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.