Genesis 2:2…God rested on the 7th day!

Genesis 2:2...God rested on the 7th day!

By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.

It’s not a popular decision amongst our loyal customers and visitors that BAKED is closed on Sunday, but we have chosen that to be our day of rest and dedication to family time. We once heard the grandson of the founder of Chic Fil A state that his grandfather said closing on Sundays was the best business decision he ever made. I mean really, how much money do you suppose Chic Fil A loses by not being open on Sundays. Life can’t be all about the almighty dollar or it shouldn’t be!

Many have asked us to just hire someone to open on Sundays in our absence, but that really wouldn’t offer a true day of rest either. So, we do apologize for any inconvenience to our customers when they roll up on Sunday and see our sign that says…Gone to the Beach, but we hope that they also find a day or time of rest and relaxation in the hustle and bustle of our too often busy world and we look forward to serving them on Monday.

Ring out the old, Ring in the New…2012 Our Year in Review!

It doesn’t seem possible that another year has passed!  2012 has come and gone and thankfully it was another year full of goodness for Baked Dessert Cafe & Gallery and the little historic town of Berlin, Maryland.  This was the first year that we chose to close shop at the bakery during the celebration so that our focus could simply be on enjoying the evening with our family and friends. Only on its third year, the Berlin Ball Drop has become quite the tradition.  We were amongst the thousands of young and old, locals and visitors who chose to spill into the streets of Berlin watching the ball drop at Broad and Main Street.

Many new customers, along with our loyal seasonal and  local supporters, crossed our threshold this year.  Most new customers found their way to us via Social Media outlets; Yelp and TripAdvisor our new best friends.  In April we celebrated our 2nd year in business and in July our first full year in our new and improved space.

We acquired our liquor license in May which brought new and improved meaning to getting “BAKED” at the beach and added a convenience to our customers looking to purchase great wines and craft brew. New recipes were tried, some big winners, some not.  Our signature desserts the Peach Dumpling, Cupcake Bread Pudding and Cupcake Bombs still the consistent sell outs.  We added new, deliciously Gluten Free and Vegan desserts, meals and bread mix for our customers following those specific diets and we more than doubled our wholesale business.

We received several significant awards this year as well.   The two we are most proud of are the Worcester County Green Business Award and the Berlin Chamber of Commerce Philanthropy Award.  Showing some love to Mother Earth and one another is of the utmost importance to both Shelly and I.   We feel blessed to have been able to donate thousands of dollars to various local charities and thanks to Worcester Youth and Family, we were also able to adopt local families in need during the holidays.

Looking ahead, this New Year will include a trip to the Food and Wine Festival in Charleston in late February, early March and a trip to Spain.  We are so excited to bring back some new and exciting recipes and wine from those journies.  We’ll be packaging our Gluten Free Cake Mix for sale and adding new apparel to our line up.  We are looking forward to continued collaboration with our neighboring businesses to include new and improved service to our customers and

get "BAKED"!

get “BAKED”!

I, of course, will continue to try to keep up with technology.  There’s so much more to come!

2013 will bring new challenges and triumphs I’m sure, but we are ready for both.  We’ve celebrated so much this year;  non of it possible without the love and support of our family, friends, loyal customers and business community.  Thank you all!  We look forward to serving you and our community and we wish everyone a New Year filled with Peace, Love, Laughter, Great Health and Great Eats!

Buy Local…the Challenge!

Baked's Berlin T-shirt

Buy Locally in Berlin

There is a challenge in our area to go one month purchasing local food and product without buying from sources like chain supermarkets and warehouse stores.  We have accepted this challenge personally and professionally and can attest to the fact that the term “challenge” is appropriate for this project.  The fact is, some things are easier to purchase locally than others.  No matter, the fact is buying local has significant advantages whether you are interested in higher quality ingredients, stimulating the local economy and/or reducing your “carbon footprint”.

It began when Christie McDowell, owner of the Good Farm in Berlin, challenged herself this very same way last Summer. “The goal I set was to buy as direct from the producer as possible and buy nothing with preservatives or any unnecessary additives,” McDowell said. “I found the gaps in local food options, what you can get and where you can get it. I bought some of the healthy options at Ocean City Organics in West Ocean City if farmers’ markets didn’t have something”.  Bryan Brushmiller, owner of Burley Oaks Brewery which is preparing to open it’s doors on August 12th, was inspired by McDowell’s project and has joined forces to expand the challenge.  Brushmiller himself purchases rye, hops and barley from local farmers for use in his handcrafted brew.

Shelly and I have always been committed to purchasing as much locally as possible.  Not because it’s the new “buzz word” for marketing, but because it just simply seems, to us, to be the right thing to do.  When you purchase locally, ingredients are fresher and higher in quality, you stimulate your local economy and because “the goods” are not transported from hundreds of miles away, the “carbon footprint” is reduced which helps Mother Earth.

Owning a business and having to purchase product in bulk poses significant difficulty with some vendors.  Dairy has presented a challenge, although local eggs haven’t been easy to purchase on a bulk scale either. Ironically, several egg producers in the area have committed all of their product to the Whole Foods Corporation. Go figure, the “big boys” who also promote buying locally are preventing the small businesses from doing the same.  Unbleached and unbromated  flour is a whole other story.  On a positive note, fruits, veggies, beef, poultry, seafood, coffee, cheeses, honey, soaps, lotions, crafts, jewelry and of course, all natural DESSERTS, BREADS and BEVERAGES are no problem!

This challenge is raising awareness in our community and identifying the gaps, that together, we can work to fill.  Brushmiller and McDowell want anyone raising food or fishing locally who want to promote their wares to contact them at www.burlyoak.com and at www.wegrowgoodfood.com.

The Sweet Life…striking “the balance”…working it out!

No one has to tell us about diets, indulging in sweets in moderation and watching the waist line.  Our stretchy pants feel the pain of having to taste most everything that leaves the building everyday.  Plus, I’m sure that you’ve read our previous post about “you can have your cake and eat it too” so I am not going to elaborate on that subject.  So what, you ask, am I blogging about now?  Well, it’s our newest endeavor.

We want to connect our customers with our local fitness centers, personal trainers/coaches and share healthy eating tips.  You think it’s “weird” that the owners of a dessert cafe are blogging about fitness?  Let me be clear, we definitely want you to get “BAKED” at the beach, but it is as important to us that our customers are happy and most importantly healthy.  We hope you know that this is why we are committed to baking au’naturale.   We seriously believe that good health and happiness are all about striking “the balance” between the “healthy” and the “indulgent”.   Sometimes that balancing act is just down right difficult.

This  idea came to me when I saw a customer of ours at the gym.  She kindly commented on our facebook post and picture of our Monster Cream Puff asking, “Do you think I could eat half of one if I walk for 30 minutes on the treadmill”?  “Why yes”, I replied and voila the proverbial lightbulb in my head went off.  Why not  connect with the local fitness gurus and share fitness tips, “specials” and wellness strategies with our fans?  Why not ask our fans to share their success stories, tips and recipes.  I don’t know about you, but I can use all of the help that I can get!

No matter if you are a local, just visiting or vacationing at the beach, there are a plethora of fitness centers to choose from and most offer yearly, seasonal, monthly, weekly and daily rates.  Some are even open 24 hours a day.  Fitness centers are not a “one size fits all” and gyms here are no exception.  They offer different fitness philosophies, different work out schedules, classes and styles and varying approaches to reaching your fitness goals.  Most of the centers provide personal coaching, some are class oriented, some more “free weight” minded.  Some follow specific diet regimens like the Paleo Diet which one of our friends and customers recently shared a dessert recipe from.  It was so delicious, Chocolate Babies are now on our “favorites” menu.

Shelly and I come from a large family who celebrate every occasion with food and we own a bakery for gosh sakes. We are constantly striving to strike “the balance” and so we work out almost every morning together.  I personally can’t imagine the strain on our stretchy pants if we didn’t.   One of the factors that we considered when joining a gym was the convenience of the location to the bakery and our children’s school.  Let’s face it, some days are harder than others and for us convenience was a major consideration.  I’ll be honest, the struggle for me is walking through the gym door.  Once I make it past that threshold, I’m “golden” and I always feel physically and mentally better for it.

So, in addition to providing you the very best all natural desserts, breads and beverages, we’re also going to be “rooting out” fitness tips, gym specials and healthy dessert recipes for your overall wellbeing and enjoyment.  We’ll be providing more gluten free, diabetic friendly and vegan dessert options at “BAKED” and are interested in your own personal success stories, winning tips, strategies and recipes.  Visit us on facebook, share your strategies and join our quest to strike “the balance” for a happy, healthy, sweet life.

Sticking to our guns, I mean our “buns”!

Our good friend and former partner Jill brought us an article from the News Journal highlighting the thoughts of Sam Calagiones’s who is the founder and president of the very successful Dogfish Head Craft Brewery and star of the Discovery Channels “Brew Masters”.

Calagione was speaking during the Franklin P. Perdue School of Business Executive Leadership Series at Salisbury University.  In the article, Calagione’s was quoted as saying, “When we weren’t profitable, it would have been very easy to discount our beer, dumb down our beer, but we didn’t.”  “We stuck to our guns and we kept brewing these exotic beers”.  In response, Bob Wood, dean of the Perdue School, stated that Calagione had shared a valuable lesson to the audience. “Money is fine, but if you’re in it for the money, you’re in it for the wrong reasons.” “You’ve got to have a passion for what you do.”  The article further stated that Dogfish Head doesn’t compete with other breweries, but instead offers a spirit of collaboration.

These statements and Calagione’s philosophy really resonate with us because we feel the same way.  Hand crafting all natural desserts and using high quality ingredients is more expensive and time-consuming than the alternative.  Not everyone cares or appreciates the effort, but  we are passionate about what we do and committed to providing high quality desserts, breads and beverages to our customers.   We won’t feed you anything we wouldn’t feed to our own family!

From the beginning, we consciously decided not to compete with our commercial neighbors.  We could have and it would certainly have generated additional income for us, but we didn’t and don’t.  We are very interested in the spirit of collaboration.   We believe that collaborating with other businesses will help us and others be the best that we all can be.  Particularly in the little town of Berlin, Maryland, we believe that what’s good for one of us is good for all of us!

We’ve learned a lot this past year!  We’ve had ideas that didn’t work so well and great ideas that have and we have grown from both.  We know that there are more  lessons to come and that we are going to make mistakes along the way.  We’re choosing to measure our success by remaining focused on what makes us and our customers happy.

Some business professionals suggest that you not only know your competition, but that you also model their successes. We understand why that makes sense, but also believe that whether personally or professionally, solely following that philosophy can be the distraction that discourages and prevents you from living and creating authentically.  We salute Sam Calagione for all of his success and his forward thinking business approach.  Like Mr. Calagione’s, we too are going to “stick to our buns” and continue providing superb quality, all-natural desserts, breads and beverages to the best customers on the planet!

“Be the change you want to see in the world!”

Earth Day began on April 22, 1970 and has been celebrated every year on the same date.  Then and now, it’s a day to reflect on our planet, our environment and what we can do to help keep them healthy.  As a result of this movement, the following agency and acts were established and passed…

  • The Environmental Protection Agency was established later in 1970.
  • The tough Clean Air Act of 1970 was passed with only a handful of dissenting votes in both Houses of Congress.
  • The Federal Occupational Health and Safety Act aimed at “in-plant pollution” was passed by a coalition of labor and environmental groups.
  • Within the next three years, such landmarks as the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act were passed.

Of course, their is still so much to do!  Everyone can make a difference just by simply recycling our waste.  At “BAKED” we use compostable packaging, we recycle paper, plastics, cans, and glass and we compost our kitchen waste.  We are so fortunate to have the help and support of Grow Berlin Green (GBG).  GBG is a three year campaign and collaborative project between Assateague Coastal Trust (ACT), Lower Shore Land Trust (LSLT) and Maryland Coastal Bays Program (MCBP) in an effort to make a positive impact on Berlin’s enviroment.

GBG organizes events, educational conferences, contests and  community spruce-up days, just to name of few.  On Saturday, April 16th they will host the 3RD Annual Take Pride in Berlin Clean-Up Day.   According to their website, http://www. growberlingreen.org the day will feature…

many opportunities to help clean and spruce up the ditches, grounds and facilities around the Berlin area, including picking up litter, cleaning recreational equipment and placing storm water decals on designated storm drains around town.  The festivities after will include a chance to sign up for rain barrels, a special Green Box drawing, music from the band Galaxy Collection who will be “Jamming for the Land”, and many other fun activities, crafts, food and give aways.

It’s not too late to register for this event or to get involved, become part of this movement and make positive change! Think about this…

“Be the change you want to see in the world.” – gandhi


Paying it forward, making a difference one cupcake at a time!

The expression “pay it forward” is used to describe the concept of asking that a good turn be repaid by having it done to others instead.  In celebration of our 1 Year Anniversary, we intend to do just that!  From April 4th through April 8th, we will be collecting monetary and food donations to help the First Baptist Church of Berlin replenish their food pantry. When you donate, we will happily satisfy your “Sweet Tooth” with a FREE, all natural dessert.

My first experience with the term “pay it forward” was watching the film Pay It Forward which was an adaptation of the novel written by Catherine Ryan Hyde.  In the book and the movie it is described as the obligation to do three good deeds for others in repayment of a good deed that one receives.  In this way, the need to help others then spreads through society and the movement, in turn, makes the world a better place.

Courtesy of WIKI…

The idea of the book and movie has been championed in real life by the Pay It Forward Foundation. The Foundation focuses on bringing the idea of paying it forward to school age children, parents, and educators. The simple idea of doing good works for others to repay the good that has happened to you is one that can easily be conveyed to children and encourages them to be socially aware and take a role in making the world a better place.[citation needed] The main character of the book was a 12-year-old child, thus giving other children someone they can relate to.

We are a small business and “giving product away” is an expense, but we are committed to this community and making a positive difference here.  There are so many people struggling in this economy, the need for assistance in and surrounding this community is greater than ever.   Imagine, if each of us performs three good deeds to help another, no matter how small, and those people perform three good deeds and then those people perform three good deeds and so on.   What an impact it would make…whose life might be changed…how this world could be different?

We have been given so much by this community.  The best part of owning this business has been meeting the locals, servicing our customers and this great community.  We mean it when we say that “We have the best customers on the planet in the greatest little seaside town”.   Everyone has been so helpful, welcoming and supportive.   “Paying it forward“, even if it’s one cupcake at a time, is just our way of saying Thank You and encouraging positive change in the community that we share!

You can have your cake and eat it too!

Let me preface this post by admitting that I’ve added the inventor of “lycra” to my list of people I thank God for and that the term “muffin top”  has a new meaning for me, particularly since taste testing began in the bakery.   Still, over this past year, I was still surprised by the number of customers who came into the bakery and asked if they could just “stand and smell”.  “Why of course you can” we responded, but this begs the question…”why would you want to just smell fresh-baked deliciousness when you can actually taste it?

This form of question usually resulted in one poor soul, most often a woman, standing by while their companion ordered and indulged in something sweet.  The deprived usually commented, while looking anxious and depressed, “I really want something, but I simply can’t indulge”.  I can almost hear their internal conversation aloud; “should I, maybe just a little, don’t do it , I really want it, no you can’t have it” and so on and so on.  Why do we do this to ourselves?

I’m like a kid in the classroom right now with both arms raised in the air almost screaming…Ooh, Ooh, Ooh!  I know the answer to this.  For most of us, it has to do with deprivation in the desperate attempt to reach or maintain a certain body weight. Let’s address the “elephant in the room”, for some this has everything to do with good health, particularly if they have issues with blood sugar, but for many it is not about being healthy at all.  It is about their negative body image and their desperate attempt to “feel good in their own skin”.  This kind of deprivation usually leads to bingeing, which usually ends with guilt and this vicious cycle begins.

It’s no wonder so many of us, even beginning in the early teenager years, have poor body image.  The messages we all get from magazines, movies and television are totally skewed.

How can any of us get a handle on reality when everything we see from photos of fashion models to actors and even athletes are doctored to “perfection” with computer tricks and the ever popular chemical and surgical enhancements.  According to dosomething.org, did you know…

*Twenty years ago, models weighed 8% less than the average woman. Today, they weigh 23% less than the average woman.

*The average American woman is 5’4” tall and weighs 140 pounds. The average American model is 5’11” tall and weighs 117 pounds.

*If Barbie was a real woman, she’d have to walk on all fours due to her proportions.

*About 7% of 12th grade males have used steroids in order to become more muscular.

*If GI Joe were human, he’d have larger biceps than any bodybuilder in history.

*One out of every four college aged women has an eating disorder.

*It is estimated that 40-50% of American women are trying to lose weight at any point in time.

*Americans spend more than 40 billion dollars a year on dieting and diet-related products – that’s roughly equivalent to the amount the U.S. Federal Government spends on education each year!

*Almost half of all women smokers smoke because they see it as the best way to control their weight. Of these women, 25% will die of a disease caused by smoking.

*In 2007, there were about 11.7 million cosmetic procedures performed in the U.S. Ninety one percent of these were performed on women.

*A study found that 53% of thirteen-year-old American girls are unhappy with their bodies. This number grows to 78% by the time girls reach seventeen.

Isn’t that shocking?  I don’t have all of the answers and I am certainly not suggesting that we all binge on “sweets” with reckless abandon.   Although, that would be great for our business!  I have come to the conclusion, though, that moderation can be part of the solution.  How about we focus on setting goals of being strong, fit and healthy.  How about planning healthy, nutritious meals which can even include dessert.  We can encourage more physical activity.  Remember, diets don’t work because food deprivation causes the body to burn fuel more slowly.

Maybe we order and prepare smaller serving sizes.  For example, if you do indulge in dessert, order or prepare in single serve sizes like cupcakes.  Freeze the remainder and just take out a single serve portion to be enjoyed each day.  When you eat one, savor it as a treat.  Sit down while you eat it, focus on the flavor and texture, put your utensil down between bites.   Give yourself permission to enjoy it.  When we deprive ourselves that’s when the indulgence takes on the “super power”.

Bottom line, I believe we can encourage and remind each other to be the best that we can be.   Love yourself and others for who you and they are and remember, “beauty is only skin deep”.  Physical beauty is superficial.  A pleasing exterior is no guide to a person’s inner beauty or character.   You can “have your cake and eat and enjoy it too!

A “pipe dream” come true…

In the beginning…I lived and operated a cake and cupcake business with my “bff” Lori just outside of Washington, DC.  We were having a blast and contemplating how to grow our business.  The only problem was, I didn’t want to “grow” and commit to a business in that area.

For years, most of my childhood actually, my family vacationed in and around Ocean City.  Several of my family members have moved to Berlin, Maryland and love it.  My kids and I spent the Summers there and so began the dream of one day calling Berlin home.

My sister Shelly and I have long discussed opening a bakery right on Main Street.  You see there is this awkwardly shaped commercial space there that has been home to several businesses and bakeries.  It was just in need of a little TLC in order to be something special.  It could be perfect, Shelly could make her pies and famous cookies and I could continue to  be creative with cakes and cupcakes.  We could “tag team” the rest.

This was only a “pipe dream” until one day our neighbor emailed me a listing of a “bakery for sale” in Berlin.  This had to be the place we had looked at so many times, Berlin is only so big!  We asked our friend and neighbor Jill to join us as the “business brain” of the operation and  BAKED DESSERT CAFE was born.

It would take way too long to detail the amount of thought, work, time and effort that has gone into this “small business”.  Suffice it to say, it’s been a lot.  Honestly, I don’t think anyone of us could have done this alone.  As a matter of fact, we didn’t.   Along the way, our husbands, our children, our parents, Jill’s parents, our talented siblings and the surrounding community has donated their time, talent and support.   We’ve learned so much over this past year, not only about the business, but about ourselves!  I’ll just speak for myself here; I never knew I was such a control freak.

As Spring brings with it the change of season, change too is coming to BAKED in April.  Jill has decided to return to a life with a more flexible schedule.  Shelly and I can be a lot of fun, but not as much fun as playing with grandkids.  We are really going to miss her and her brain!   We intend to pressure her to work with us on festival days and lucky for us she lives right next door so we will still see her smiling face daily.

Shelly is learning the bookkeeping end of the business and I am trying desperately to “come up to speed” with the technology piece.  Filling Jill’s “shoes” won’t be easy.  May God help us both!  We’re taking everything that we’ve learned about our customers, our community, our products and we’re “streamlining” things.  No worries, we are still focused on providing the best all natural desserts, breads and beverages on the planet!  That will never change!

I can’t predict the future, but I hope that we are here, getting everyone “BAKED” at the beach, for many years to come.  I truly believe that the “stars aligned” for us.  To be here, close to family and friends, working with people we love, serving this community; it’s been a “pipe dream” come true.  Our advice…Follow your dreams and then find us and get “BAKED” at the beach!

Is it better for a cupcake to look great or taste great?

Is it better for a cupcake to look great or taste great.  I personally think both, but there’s nothing worse than something looking tasty and tasting terrible.   I mean really, once it reaches your mouth who cares what it looks like?

As a “food lover” and owner of a small bakery, I am acutely aware of the fact that eating is a multi-sensory experience.  Long before we taste something, whether it be savory or sweet, the visual and  olfactory cues can either peak or diminish our desire.   Obviously, our goal at Baked Dessert Cafe is to offer food that looks great and tastes even better.

With the popularity of shows like Ace of Cakes and the availability of sugar clay decorations, along with the ability to photo copy on edible papers, it seems that most are adding these decorative designs to cakes, cupcakes and cookies.  We are no exception.  Fondant is not “natural” neither is the color copied edible image, but if you want something with a custom design, there is no “equal” substitute.  We inform our customers of this “up front”.

Like most, I personally don’t care for the taste of either one.  Most people admit that they peel the fondant decorations off and don’t even eat them. No surprise, they contain loads of artificial flavors and colors.  Enough reason to reduce the use, right?  In addition, adding these decorative details is expensive and adds significantly to the cost of the product.

Shelly and I intend to redirect our focus on creating visually appealing desserts that are decorated “au naturale”.   We have always used fruit/vegetable based coloring, sprinkles, nonparells, along with chocolate shavings, ganache, caramels and curds to decorate our desserts.  We also have added fondant flowers, shells and such to increase the visual appeal.  On special request, we will continue to do so because “what the customer wants is what the customer gets”, but we’re going to get back to our  “old school” style of doing things and we intend to bring our customers along with us.