By now, you have likely tried something from Sunny Akers Bread.
If not, it’s not hard to find the numerous items created in Kalyn Akers’ kitchen. She’s a regular at markets, including the Abbeville Farmers’ and Ar- tisans’ Market, where she will be on May 15. Her menu and schedule can also be found at www.sunnyakers.com.
“I make all kinds of yeasted bread,” Akers said, “sourdough, baguettes, sandwich loaves, croissants, cinnamon rolls, focaccia, brioche, dinner rolls, to name a few. My favorite thing to make would have to be sour- dough. I have had my starter for four years now. I find it an absolute miracle that such sim- ple ingredients as flour, water, salt, and natural yeast found in the air can make something so delicious. Plus, it’s the healthiest bread you can eat. Of course, I also love the delicate process of making laminated doughs like croissants and danishes.
“The end product with all those crispy layers of butter and dough is something special.”
Akers has ramped up her baking to a full-time operation within the past year. Before that, it served as a hobby after she left teaching to spend more time with her growing family. She married Kory Akers in 2008, and the two have five children from ages 10 to 1.
“I had been teaching French for a few years,” Akers said, “and when our family grew from three to four children in ‘14, I decided I needed to spend some time at home with my children. I stopped teaching and home schooled for four years. At that time, I picked up the hobby of baking bread. I quickly became obsessed,
and life has not been the same since! I eventually went back to teaching, and bread baking was a humble hobby that I continued to pursue in my spare time. That all changed in ‘18, when I began selling king cakes.
“Every year since then, the business has been growing, and in June of ‘20, I began baking as a full-time venture.”
While it has grown into a successful venture, baking has also served as a way for Akers to stay connected to French cul- ture. At age 10, Akers, née Guidry, moved from Abbeville to Florida with her family. After graduating from high school, she returned home and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in French from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette in ‘09.
“Living away from Louisiana gave me a greater appreciation for my cul- ture and led to an interest in the French language,” Akers said. “Bread is an im- portant part of French culture, so when I wasn’t teaching French anymore, I shifted my focus to learning how to make French bread. The first bread that I made was a baguette and it remains my most challenging. In hindsight, I don’t recom- mend starting with baguettes.”
One challenge to overcome for any growing business is the growth itself. Akers has seen that.
“After quickly outgrowing my home kitchen,” Akers said, “my husband and I decided to build a space that could accommodate bigger equipment and greater output. We built a commercial kitchen on our property in Maurice, and I am so in love with my little home bakery. I have a hard time saying it’s a one-man job because none of it would be possible without the numerous family and friends who watch our kids, print labels, wash dishes, give advice, and taste test to make this dream a reality for me. And of course, my husband, Kory, works two full-time jobs between his actual job and helping me in the bakery.
“I have plans to expand to a storefront in Vermilion parish, but I don’t antici- pate it happening until my children are older. For now, markets, king cake season, and custom orders keep me as busy as I can handle with five young children and a farm.”
It’s that family farm that led to the name of Sunny Akers Bread.
“When Kory and I first moved to the country, we got chickens,” Akers said. “My family got such a kick out of it and insisted that we come up with a name for our “farm.” So we decided on Sunny Akers Family Farm, a play on our last name. My sister gave us a stamp with the name for Christmas. I would stamp our egg cartons with the name when eggs were the first thing we sold.
“Eventually, when we started exclusively selling bread, we changed the name to Sunny Akers Bread, but we kept the chicken in our logo as a reminder of our beginnings.”
The response from the community has been nothing short of sunny.
“It never fails to amaze me how much support I have received from my community,” Akers said. “It means the world to me to have “regulars” at the market. Their support is what keeps me going and gives me confidence. Doing markets is not easy; it is physically and mentally challenging. Prep begins on Thursday. I bake late into Friday night, then wake early on Saturday morning to pack up, set up, and hopefully sell everything.
“But I get to meet people in my community and talk about my passion, and it makes it all worth it.”
Originally published in Abbeville Meridional, 5/2/21