An alternative to the traditional wedding cake

Umpleby's Tarts

Weddings are celebrations of life,   promising new beginnings and love.   Bakers are lucky in that we have an opportunity to be a part of these celebrations in the form of the wedding cake.  That familiar tiered creation is seen at many of these joyous events.  We are honored to say that we have made many over the years for couples and, while they can be stressful to make, it  is always a very proud moment to deliver the cake to the wedding reception site and know that two people are starting their lives together by sharing a piece of what we have created for them.

But not all couples have wedding cakes as their dessert choice.   We have instead done quite a few weddings with small desserts as the finish to the wedding dinner rather than the traditional tiered wedding cake.  Small desserts offer an attractive alternative in that we can create a multitude of different flavors and textures and shapes a guest can choose from that a wedding cake can’t replicate.   From a visual point of view a table filled with 100 or more small desserts is quite a dramatic presentation.

We are very fortunate to have had the opportunity to make such desserts over the past couple years for a local caterer, The Barefoot Gourmet of Thetford, VT.  Barry Clarke, the proprietor, is a fantastic chef with a flair for using ingredients and flavors that are far from ordinary.  The picture I am posting here is a sampling of desserts that I made for him that he took in connection with an upcoming  wedding he was bidding for.  He got the gig so he will be doing the cooking of  the main course and such and I will be making the small desserts.

So think small – small desserts that is,  for your celebration whether it be a wedding or maybe just a fun party you want to host.  And think Umpleby’s as your baker for them!

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A bit of fun news to share – We are named the Best Bakery Dish in New Hampshire

UnknownI have been meaning to post this for a while and now I will.  We are in the current Yankee Summer Issue that features the Best of New England.  We are listed under the category of the Best Bakery Dish in New Hampshire!  And that dish is our beloved meat pies and sausage rolls.

I was turned on to making them while working at a small cafe in Melbourne, Australia.  Carlton to be exact.  Go Carlton Blues!    That was 18 or so years ago.  And I’ve been making them ever since.   You can get them here at the cafe or at the outdoor Norwich Farmers’ Market every Saturday from 9 to 1.    Try one and you’ll be hooked!  And Bob’s your uncle!


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I mourn the loss of a friend – Herb Knapp

Let me tell you a personal story. It all started with a lemon tart.   One of the many pastries we sell at the café is lemon tarts. We try to have them in the case for sale every day but there was a brief period of time when they weren’t offered so regularly. This hiatus was noticed and it came back to me in the bake house by the front staff that told me that there was a certain customer who was wondering when we would offer them again. This customer wanted to know if I had forgotten the recipe or something.   This comment I found very funny so I had to find out – who was this person who was so enamored of our lemon tarts?  So I told my staff member to please let me know when he was in the café again as I wanted to meet the man who liked our food so much.  Wouldn’t you?  I found out he was a regular customer who adored our lemon tarts and would sometimes buy all that we had in stock. (I think at that point it was to guard against any future lemon tart droughts from the eccentric fickle baker in the kitchen)  And that is how I met Herb Knapp, retired doctor, soldier in WWII, lover of French inspired food, and person who made me laugh.   I’ll never forget going into the café to introduce myself for the first time to Herb.   It was the beginning of many stories I would have the pleasure of listening to for the past two or so years. Herb recently celebrated his 91st birthday and I was honored to go celebrate at his home. It would be his last birthday party that he would share with friends and family. He passed away on the 13th of June. Words cannot describe how sad it is to lose one you care about. I’m sure I’m not saying anything new to any of you who are reading this. I lost my father in 2000 so I am no stranger to the bitter sadness and emptiness that comes from the loss of a loved one.

One of the joys of owning a bakery besides making people happy with the food we make is the opportunity to meet these interesting people and hear their stories. To connect. Isn’t that what it is all about to be human- to connect? I had the joy of becoming friends with Herb and talking about things from an era that has long passed from our current existence. And now he is gone too. And it makes me cry.

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