BERLIN – It’s been a whirlwind year for the ladies at the Baked Dessert Cafe but down economy or no they’ve become successful by being responsive to their customer base and learning to do what they do well better while discarding missteps as soon as they’ve been identified.
Setting aside the quality of their cookies, cakes and other sweets, what the Baked Dessert Cafe has demonstrated they’re best at is remaining involved with and a part of their surrounding community. Rather than compete with church bake sales, for instance, they’ve made it a policy to turn the notion on its head holding bake giveaways for local food banks with some regularity over the last year.
As a way of celebrating their year in business while continuing much of what has made them successful, next week the bakery will hold another food fundraiser in support of the Berlin First Baptist Church, similar to the drive they held at the end of last year.
“The need doesn’t change because the season does,” said the Baked Dessert Cafe owner Robin Tomasello. “So we decided to do another food drive instead of having a traditional anniversary sale.”
From April 4-8 the bakery will offer a different free sample each day in exchange for canned items or a monetary donation to the food pantry. Not only will the donations go to an excellent cause but it will also give people the opportunity to have a taste of some of the bakery’s best.
The Baked Dessert Cafe started out last year with a bit of a confectionary coup, getting the council to designate the peach dumpling as the town dessert, helping to establish them as a company with a long-term commitment to Berlin.
Tomasello said that, given a time machine the only thing she would have told herself a year ago was to start regretting not having made the leap into the business sooner. All the lessons they’ve learned, she said, have been positive ones.
Th biggest was that trying to continue to produce some of everything they knew how to make well was counterproductive. Together she and her sister and co-owner Shelly Eppard came to recognize the ebbs and flows of popular desserts and began to focus on them.
The biggest benefit of which was it freed up more time for special order taking and research, which has become not only a significant part of their business but a fun way to expand both their knowledge and talents.
For St. Patrick’s Day, for example, they had several requests for Irish soda bread, which Tomasello — the head baker — didn’t have a lot of experience making. As a baker, just following a recipe isn’t satisfying for her so, as with all requests she hasn’t had before, Tomasello researched the history of the confection.
Baking is only a small part of being a baker, adding to the culinary conversation is critical to the profession, and understanding not only what comprises a dessert but why it was selected enables her to make everything she learns to prepare her own.
“It’s really interesting to do the research,” she said.
Baked Desserts is also doing what they can to encourage healthier and better eating. While it may sound odd that healthful consumption is among a baker’s most prominent concerns, as Tomasello explains it the move is part of understanding what confection is all about.
They’ve recently added gluten-free options for many of their products and have begun developing a diabetic-friendly line of sweets. But their twist is to keep everything natural, disdaining the notion that chemicals are the only way to replace sweetness.
In addition to their commitment to natural ingredients, one of the other ways the Baked Dessert Cafe tries to focus on more healthful consumption is to offer single serving-sizes of nearly everything they make. It’s likely the reason their cupcakes have become such a hit.
“It’s important to stay with what we do best,” Tomasello said. “We try and stay in touch with what we’re committed to.”