Appalachiana has developed a reputation as a showcase for contemporary crafts. Now it is offering free space on Saturdays to one of the oldest, if least permanent, of crafts: bread. At last count, three homes bakers were selling their loaves at various prices, most around $1.50 to $2 a loaf. Barbara Berman bakes about forty loaves of egg-laden challah each Friday in one of the smallest kitchens to ever justify the name. In her rickety oven the loaves sometimes burn, and these golden braids look rustic and unevenly browned. But never mind; the taste is rich, the aroma maddening, the texture heavy with sturdy character. Patty Webb is producing more delicate sorts of bread, of elegant flavor and texture, usually fruit-nut loaves and a variety of muffins. Suzanne Sutton has worked up a vast repertoire, from Swedish limpa rye to whole wheat rolls. Her loaves are high and handsome, sesame-seeded and glazed. Whole wheat is the medium in which she excels. As the breads vary from week so may the bakers. If they don't have what you like this week - and even if they do - you can stop in to place an order for next week.

Homemade breads at Appalachiana, 10400 Old Georgetown Rd., Georgetown Square, Bethesda. Saturdays, 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. 530-6770. Also 315 Cameron St., Alexandria. Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. 683-6100.