- Hand Forged Artisan Bread -

Our Story


Hewn \ˈhyün\ to give form or shape to with or as if with heavy cutting blows by hand.

Why the name Hewn? It all started on the coast of Maine in an 18th century house, while Ellen was taking a course on Historic Preservation through the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities. The project involved dating parts of a house by examining the building techniques. One way to date a structure is to look at the beams and determine if they were hand-hewn or cut with a saw. Ellen discovered a treasure when a hand-hewn beam was found inside the walls, meaning that a craftsman used an axe to shape the beam. Ellen’s career as a historic preservationist ended after working on the Maine Coast when she started to pursue her passion for food, but the word hewn stuck with her.

Making bread is an ancient craft that relies on the hands of the baker. The word hewn is a way to connect the past with the future. Everything at Hewn is made in-house, from scratch daily. We source local and seasonal ingredients from small, local farmers when their flavors are at their peak. All of our breads are hand-mixed, hand-shaped and naturally fermented without commercial yeast. Allowing bread to ferment with wild yeast allows a richer, more complex flavor to develop. It also allows the gluten proteins to slowly and naturally break down over time.   The starter (levain/sourdough) was initially created by Ellen several years ago.  Our bakers all work to feed and maintain the starter every day.

Each day our bakers mix the dough by hand, turning it every 30 minutes over a four hour period.  The dough is then shaped and placed into bannetons, where it rests overnight to rise naturally.  In the morning, the bakers fire up the oven and bake the bread.  From the start of the mix to the bake, the bread is fermented approximately 20 hours.

Directed and edited by James Kozar | THIS Inc. | www.MakeItThis.com

About The Owners

Ellen King is the co-owner and head baker at Hewn. She is a classically trained chef and has worked in various restaurants in Seattle with a specialty in French, Mediterranean and Vegetarian foods. She also served as the artisan cheese buyer for Whole Foods in Bellevue, WA. Ellen spent time at Quillisascut Farm School, a sustainable farm school in Rice, WA, where she first learned to bake bread in a wood fired oven. She has also been a chef instructor for the “Food as Medicine” culinary classes held in Evanston with Dr. Geeta Maker-Clark. Ellen attended the Seattle Culinary Academy where she was awarded the Les Dames d’Escoffier 2003 scholarship. She holds an MA in American History from the University of Maine, and a BA in History from St. Norbert College. She was chair of the Evanston Backyard Chicken Committee, serves on the Evanston Environment Board and is a member of Chefs Collaborative, Women Chefs and Restaurateurs and the Bread Bakers Guild of America.

Julie Matthei is the co-owner and Director of Business Operations at Hewn. Julie’s belief in the product and Hewn’s mission led her to partner with Ellen in this endeavor. Julie has a BA from Fairfield University and a MEd from Loyola University Chicago. She worked in college admissions and was the Director of Guidance at a large Jesuit high school for several years. Julie’s experience with several construction projects, both residential and commercial, helped guide the creative remodeling of Hewn’s space with repurposed materials.

Our Bread


All of our breads are naturally fermented without any preservatives, chemical or additives. We use 100% organic ingredients and each loaf is baked fresh everyday.  Our oven was imported from Germany. It has a stone hearth and steam injection, which helps us to create the perfect crust.

Why no gluten free options at Hewn?  Making bread the way its been made for hundreds (some could argue thousands) of years produces a loaf free of additives, additional gluten, fast-acting yeasts, sugar or other preservatives.  This, plus the long fermentation period, allows many people with a gluten sensitivity to enjoy our breads without any difficulties.

Because our bread is so unique it needs to be cared for a little differently.

caring for your bread

Once the loaf is cut into it will keep for 4 days on your counter. Do not store in the refrigerator. It is best left on the counter and wrapped in the paper it came in or loosely wrap the cut end with plastic. Or, if you want to be “French,” store the bread cut side down on a cutting board letting the crust be exposed to the air.

If however, you prefer a softer crust, the bread can be wrapped loosely in a recycled plastic bag and will keep for 4 days.

saving an uncut loaf to serve later

If you plan to serve the bread the next day keep it wrapped in the paper. The next day the loaf can be warmed up in the oven. Preheat the oven to 375 and place on a rack in the middle of the oven for 6-7 minutes.

freezing bread

We won’t think less of you if you are unable to eat the whole loaf at one sitting. We would rather you freeze it than waste it. We prefer to slice the bread before freezing that way we can pull out a piece at a time to reheat. Or, you can cut the bread in half or quarters and freeze. To prevent freezer burn we recommend you wrap the bread with foil first, then store in a freezer safe plastic bag. Or, if you’re the gambling type  you can skip the foil and store it in a tightly sealed plastic bag.


If you sliced the bread you can take a piece out and toast it right away.

Or, for a whole, half or quarter loaf unwrap the bread from the foil and sit on the counter to defrost. Preheat the oven to 375. When the oven is at temp, rewrap the bread in the saved piece of foil. Place the bread (wrapped in foil) in the oven for 9-12 minutes. The foil will help steam the bread. Do not refreeze any leftovers (if there are any!).

Our Space

The history of our space

You never know what you will find if you spend a day at your local archive. We felt strongly that our space should reflect our mission and product. After doing some research at the Evanston History Center, we discovered that the Evanston’s original high school was built on our site in 1882. The high school was torn down in 1927 and the existing building was built the following year. The brick alley to the east of our store still traces the original footprint of the high school and helps explain why it takes a sharp turn half way down.

Further research revealed that a long-term tenant at 832 Dempster was actually a family run neighborhood market called “Bernsten Bros.” Another tenant at 818 Dempster was Wood’s Bakeries, that had four locations in Evanston. Quaker Brothers eventually bought Wood’s and the bakeries were closed. Evanston was filled with several neighborhood bakeries from the early 1900’s until about the 1960’s when they started disappearing. Hewn is a return back to that time when small, family run bakeries and groceries reflected the heart of the community.

The Store

Inside Hewn we wanted to use as many salvaged and repurposed items as possible. As our bread is handmade, so are many of the interior furnishings that you see in the front part of our store. We wanted the warm, rustic nature of our store to reflect the warm, rustic nature of our bread.

The Floors: We were surprised to find the original terrazzo beneath thick, gray tile. It was literally like finding a treasure!

The Walls: Carlson Barnwood salvaged all the metal from an old barn roof in southern Illinois.

The Shelves and Counters: All the shelves and counters are from an old White Oak tree that had to be cut down in Wilmette. Horrigan Urban Forest Products works with local communities to salvage wood from trees that would otherwise be turned into mulch.

The Lights: Vintage Barn Lights in Appleton, Wisconsin salvaged all the silver pendant lights. The exterior light was reclaimed from a closed factory building in Wisconsin.

The Wood Panels and Door: This wood is from old Michigan cypress pickle barrels.


Find Us

Our hours*


7:00am – 5:00pm


8:00am – 1:00pm


Visit Us:



(847) 869-HEWN

or (847) 869-4396

Interested in joining our team?  Email: julie@hewnbread.com

Get directions

Hewn will close early if we sell-out of breads and pastries.  Customers can reserve bread and/or pastry items by calling ahead at 847-869-HEWN.


Want to be the first to learn about upcoming events?  Enter your email to subscribe to our newsletter.





Martha Stewart - American Made 2014 - Nominee Badge


Latest Hewn News


Chicago’s Best Fall Dishes and Drinks

This article appeared in Forbes Life, written by Megy Karydes. There is something about warm bread baking in the oven that screams fall which is why we’re excited about Evanston bakery Hewn ringing in the season with its fall-inspired Pumpkin Seed Polenta bread baked with fresh herbs. Using local polenta from Hazzard Free Farm in […]


Where to Eat and Drink in Evanston

This article appeared in the New York Times, written by Ari Bendersky, 08.31.15 The urban suburb north of Chicago has a downtown area that is picking up steam with the recent openings of farm-to-table restaurants and world-class distilleries and breweries. Evanston, the urban suburb north of Chicago, has added more hustle of late. The city, […]


The Midwestern Diner Visits Hewn

This interview with Ellen and Julie originally appeared in The Midwestern Diner, written by Vincent Labriola, 08.14.15 Ellen King and Julie Matthei are the co-owners of Hewn in Evanston. How did you meet each other? JULIE MATTHEI: Our kids went to the same school right down the street, Chiaravalle Montessori School. Ellen had started an […]

One Baker’s Quest to Harvest Heritage Grains

This article originally appeared in Plate magazine, written by Molly Each, 08.27.15 Baking requires patience and attention to detail. But Ellen King, co-owner/head baker of Hewn bakery in Evanston, Ill., is taking both traits to new levels with the Midwestern Bread Experiment, a three-year plan to revive and bake with lost heritage grains. If she […]

News archive >>

Tuesday breads: Country, Cheddar, Whole Wheat, Spent.

08:35 AM Oct 06

Sunday Breads: Cranberry Walnut, Potato Rosemary, Rye with Oats, Turkey Red, Whole Wheat Seeded and Country

07:43 AM Oct 04

Saturday breads: Country, Beer Bread, Picholine Olive, Caramelized Onion Rye, Whole Wheat Seeded, Turkey Red.

07:36 AM Oct 03

We are sold out of bread today...but we still have lots of pastries and sweets!

01:19 PM Oct 02

October means #PumkinSpiceLatte. Stop by for one on this beautiful fall day! #baristalifehttps://t.co/KFwloqH4G6

11:06 AM Oct 02

Hewn is a proud member of: chamber