MY OUTLOOK: Eric Lyons, Owner of Backyard Bounty Bakery
How did you get into baking?
I grew up the son of a baker in upstate New York and some of my fondest memories are when I watched him create products with an artist’s touch. It was an inspiration that stayed with me through the years.
What did you do before opening your bakery?
I joined the U.S. Air Force right after high school and served just shy of 10 years. I was stationed at Tinker AFB for my entire enlistment. I loved serving in the military but decided to follow my passion of baking and spend more time with my family—Liz, my high school sweetheart and wife, and my three amazing kids Kiley, Aiden, and Nolan.
How long have you been baking?
Since I was a kid, but I never thought I would make it my life. Three years ago I fell in love with the art and science of baking. Something just clicked. Now I’m carrying on the family tradition.
What made you decide to turn your skill into a business?
It actually started with the crazy idea to be an urban farmer in Midwest City. I loved raising chickens, but I quickly realized that I’m a WAY better baker than a farmer.
How did you start Backyard Bounty Bakery?
The Oklahoma Food Cooperative allowed me a way to sell my baked goods without having a storefront, so I decided to give it a try. Since then, we’ve grown so much and are now sold throughout Oklahoma. We make traditional and custom bakery goods and specialize in bagels, bagel chips, pies, rolls and granola.
Growing up in New York there were so many great bagel places that I took it for granted. When I moved to Oklahoma I would bring back fresh bagels with me each time and asked anyone I knew in the Air Force to do the same. I realized how ridiculous that was, with me being the son of a baker, so with some recipes from home, practice, and creativity I created something I loved to eat and was proud to share with others.
What is your favorite bagel flavor?
It probably sounds boring but I love a plain bagel with fresh strawberry cream cheese I make myself.
What is your favorite part about baking?
The people. Everyday I’m surrounded by people who are filled with passion and love for what they do. I love meeting the customers who won’t settle for anything but the best. The chefs and business owners I meet through the bakery inspire me every day.
What makes your bagels different?
The biggest difference is that for all our products we only use simple ingredients. No preservatives, no artificial flavors or colors. We take the time necessary to make a great bagel with simple ingredients. Each bagel takes three days to go from flour to finished bagel. The starter dough and formed bagels each rise for 24 hours before they are water boiled—all true bagels are boiled—and then fresh baked the morning they’re sold. Our willingness to take the slow path leads to the best bagel outside of New York. Perfection can’t be rushed.
How early do you wake up in the morning in order to start baking?
That is by far my least favorite part of baking. Usually we start anywhere from 4-6am, depending on the day.
Who do you sell to?
We sell wholesale to restaurants, caterers, and organizations of all sizes. We also sell direct to our customers at Urban Agrarian, through the Oklahoma Food Cooperative, and we have a limited selection at our website.