On Saturday mornings, I am always reminded of how much I adore the charm and familiarity of Simple Kneads Bakery. It has always been my favorite day and time to work there, for many reasons. I get to work with my other bakery half – Sherry, and we make such a great team as we turn on lights, make coffee, place the pastries in the window case and help wake the bakery up.
Sherry scrapes off the gooey, nutty remnants from the tray of sticky buns or the left over ganache that has oozed out from the chocolate croissants, and spreads them on oat molasses bread or baguettes, cuts them up into little samples and goes up to customers, exclaiming, “you have to try this!” The other day, we discovered our new favorite breakfast treat – an open-faced hamburger bun (soft, pillowy and buttery), with a spread of chocolate ganache. To our surprise and excitement, it tasted even better than the chocolate croissant itself, especially when we melted the ganache and just poured it over the bread. We carefully arrange pastries on the top of the counter – the morning buns, salt and pepper cookies, sticky buns, danishes and kinish, and cut up treats to display on the sample board.
But perhaps my favorite thing about Saturday mornings are the people. Not everyone of course, but the regulars that come in, and contribute probably without their even knowing, to the small-town feel and character that is the heart of this bakery.
There’s the very attractive and down to earth middle-aged man who always bikes there on the way to the farmer’s market and gets a Perrier, a loaf of parmesan walnut bread and maybe an apple turnover to reward himself for the bike ride.
There’s the sixty something couple, still very much in love – he is a writer and former poet laureate and she is eccentric with a dramatic voice, beautiful hair and large circular framed glasses that swallow her face. He always gets a plain croissant, which he orders with the French pronunciation and a little container of butter. She usually gets a bear claw or sometimes a day-old scone. They are straight from a film and I love it.
The pizza man who works around the corner arrives, unfailingly, like clockwork – delivering us a large pizza containing a unique collage of various toppings – always different and a special personal pizza with anchovies for the owner. As soon as he walks in the door, I know to get out his hazelnut syrup for his coffee and alert the bakers that their breakfast has arrived. This has become a lovable tradition at the bakery, just on Saturday mornings. We never ask for the pizza but it always comes, unfailingly and free of charge and in return, we give the pizza man free coffee and day-old cinnamon rolls – which he brings to his mother. We still don’t even know his name.
There’s the family of three (with an adorable little girl), who comes in almost every Saturday and orders cinnamon rolls with extra cream cheese icing and petite Nole who is married but always comes in solo, orders a bear claw and coffee and sits with her newspaper and always gets more croissants or pastries to take home with her.
Last, there’s Lane Green, who is essentially the mascot of the bakery. He doesn’t usually come in Saturday mornings but he has made a second home out of the bakery and has a tab there. He’s a 70 something year-old man and ex-earth science professor. He’s incredibly intelligent and has some wild stories – all of which, I somehow, oddly believe. His dress is flamboyant and he is ever sharing his recent treasures he’s collected from various thrifts and antique stores around town. Sometimes, he brings vintage sweaters as offerings to myself and one of the other girls who works there. He smokes and drinks and is always wearing hats and cowboy boots. He’s raunchy and strange and since he is homeless by choice, he bounces from seedy motel to storefront stoop, night by night. He prefers a butter pastry ratio of 3:1 and the bakery would not be the same without him.
It’s these faces that make up the infrastructure of this bakery. I like the predictability and familiarity they bring and the stories they share.