March 26, 2023

Antonia DeBianchi is an Associate Editor, Food & Lifestyle, at PEOPLE. She writes everything from exclusives with Martha Stewart to coverage of TikTok food trends. Before joining PEOPLE, Antonia wrote for the recipe vertical at the Kitchn. She has also freelanced for TODAY Digital, Food52, and Insider. She graduated from Boston University with a degree in Journalism. Antonia enjoys baking and posting food content to Instagram in her free time.
Spending time in the kitchen is a huge part of Linda Purl and Patrick Duffy’s relationship — so much so that they just launched a new baking product together that honors Duffy’s family.
The Happy Days and Dallas stars, who have been dating for over two years, spoke with PEOPLE about their new sourdough kit, Duffy’s Dough, which includes a dehydrated version of a starter that dates back “at least 70 years,” says Duffy, 73.
"My parents took my sister and myself in 1952 in a little trailer house, towed by a truck, from Montana to Alaska. While we were there for almost two years, my mother was gifted by some old woman a sourdough starter," he says. "Theoretically it came from the gold rush period of the Alaska gold rush. So that's the mythology that we're sticking to."
His mom baked with it throughout his childhood and his sister kept it active for years, inspiring Duffy to bake with it, too.
At the beginning of their relationship, he made sourdough pancakes for Purl, 67, who said they tasted "remarkable," and it sparked an idea to start a business using the starter.
"Now I didn't think I was ever going to start a business, but Linda is Linda and took it and ran with it instantly," says Duffy. "We have been dehydrating the original sourdough starter. So it's absolutely pure from the time that my mother received it."
The limited-release product will be available to order now through mid-December. The baking kits ($78) are complete with a dehydrated starter, flour, sugar and a rolling pin, along with more kitchen tools. Plus, the first 200 kits come with an apron autographed by Duffy and a recipe book signed by both budding entrepreneurs.
"I think it's just an interesting comment on society and the times that certain things can remain unchanged and viable," Duffy says of the family heirloom. "Nothing has been added to this starter, but flour, sugar, and water for well over 70 years, and yet to this day, every time we activate the starter, it bubbles up, it's exuberant, it makes incredible meals and it lives on."
Purl says that baking is a way they connect with family and friends, describing the benefits of literally "breaking bread together" and why they hope to inspire customers to join in similar "family traditions."
"There's a possibility of really good things happening and real communication happening. It starts with the tiny little spore of yeast, but it can expand into an experience on many levels," she adds.
While there has been a "very steep learning curve" when it comes to dipping their toes in the food industry, Purl says the whole experience has been "eye-opening, so joyful and so interesting." Duffy echoes Purl, adding that partnering together on Duffy's Dough has been "one of the high points of my life."
It's no surprise that this project strengthened their relationship since being in the kitchen is woven into their love story.
"When we got together, I can actually remember I arrived late in the afternoon and we had dinner and we cooked dinner in the kitchen. And it was a dance that we had never done together, but the choreography was known to both of us," says Duffy.
"Linda is a master cook, and I learn every day from the way that she cooks," he adds. "Our lifestyles make us very compatible in almost every conceivable way. In the kitchen, the way we cook, the way we clean, the way we function together as individuals."
Whether it's acting together or launching the new sourdough brand, Duffy says he and Purl continue to work as a team "seamlessly."
"I'm really proud of both of us in the fact that nothing gets in the way of our relationship or our ability to function in the world because we are in fact in love with each other," he says.
In November 2020, Duffy spoke with PEOPLE about his early relationship with Purl. "I never thought I'd feel this way again," he said. The actor was married for more than four decades to late ballet dancer Carlyn Rosser before she died of cancer in 2017.
Years ago, Duffy and Purl were casual friends but lost touch over time. During the pandemic, they rekindled their friendship via a group chat that ultimately dwindled down to just conversation between the two of them.
At that point, "I loaded up my car and drove 20 hours and ended up on her doorstep just to see if it was real," said Duffy. "We haven't been apart since."
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