Local Hero: Baker/Bakery

An Interview with Sarah Ciccotello, Founder/Co-Owner

Photos by Stephanie Cameron

A variety of pastries at The Burque Bakehouse.

Whats a quick version of your bio for readers?

There’s probably flour in my hair and dough under my nails. A great day off involves putzing around thrift stores and chips and salsa. I keep bees, love candy, and count the days till Christmas. Oh yeah, I studied history and language at the University of New Mexico, attended the culinary program at Central New Mexico Community College, and studied bread and pastry at the San Francisco Baking Institute. I’ve also worked the ovens at Los Poblanos, The Compound, and Slate Street Cafe.

As a small-batch bakery, you often sell out of your most coveted baked goods. How do you handle distraught customers? Do you have a most popular item? At the risk of inviting others to fall for our lesser-known favorites, what do you think more customers would enjoy if they tried it?

Each week we are cranking out more pastry and bread than we ever have before. I’m thrilled that Albuquerque is into what we are making. When you decide to visit our shop, you are supporting the idea behind the Bakehouse, a place where people can make food and bake for a living with humanity. We are committed to using local, organic, and sustainable ingredients when possible, while remaining accessible to most people. It is not convenience food. For something that can be eaten so quickly and appear so simple, a lot of time, thought, and care is behind it.

I’m always going to advocate for the classic butter croissant. That’s how this whole experiment of The Burque Bakehouse started. It’s not as flashy or exciting as one of our seasonal items, so it often gets overlooked. A good croissant should make a beautiful mess as flaky shards of outer layers reveal the soft, buttery honeycomb underneath. It should taste and smell of good butter. We start with great ingredients, and we take a lot of care in building flavor over time. Our croissant is handcrafted over three days, and I’m very proud to say it’s not plain at all.

Left: Pineapple danish with rum-glazed pineapple. Top right: Sarah Ciccotello of The Burque Bakehouse. Bottom right: Assorted bread.

In addition to a set of standard offerings, you regularly introduce seasonal treats. Can you describe your creative process for varying the menu or recount the origin story for a standout seasonal specials?

I was drawn toward working in restaurants with seasonally based menus. It’s my time as a pastry chef in those kitchens that shines through now. The rhythm of changing things up based on seasons and the anticipation of what fruits and vegetables are coming up adds excitement to the very unromantic side of baking that is methodical, repetitious, and laborious.

I also love to eat and cook, and I surround myself with others who feel similarly. We spend much time at the bakery talking about food—what we’re craving or what we’re making for dinner. The gems end with “Let’s turn that into a croissant!” The Swiss dish raclette, with melted cheese, potatoes, and cornichon, spawned the Potato Danish, and cacio e pepe is the heart of our Piñon, Pecorino, and Black Pepper Sourdough.

​​What is the Bread Lab Collective and what led you to partner with this organization?

Continuing the human tradition of making bread is part of why I’m drawn to baking. I’m fascinated that we humans have been eating bread for thousands of years. It is a staple food, it always has been, and I feel strongly it always should be. When the food system shifted to prioritize convenience, the result was breads that can sit on a grocery store shelf for months. What we sacrificed was nutrition and flavor.

The Burque Bakehouse committed to join the Bread Lab Collective—a group of bakers, millers, plant breeders, teachers, and students across four countries—to bake, sell, and teach about a bread that is “approachable, accessible, and affordable.” The loaf should contain “no more than seven ingredients,” “contain no non-food,” use “at least 60% whole wheat—preferably 100%,” and be “priced under $6.” Our Honey Wheat Pan Bread is 100 percent whole grain and delicious, and it is our version of the collective’s “Approachable Loaf.” We proudly use Mountain Mama Milling whole wheat flour out of southern Colorado, cornmeal from Santa Ana Pueblo, and local honey. 

What is your favorite breakfast?

When most of New Mexico is eating breakfast, I’m usually hours deep into work. That said, the Frontier breakfast burrito smothered in an embarrassing number of ladlefuls of warm green chile salsa from the cauldron is what I crave.

640 Broadway SE, Albuquerque, 505-234-6294,