No time or desire to bake? More turning to local shops for holiday treatsFARGO – Those who felt the heat slaving away over the stove Thursday got a reprieve after the family feast gave way to leftover Friday. But any kitchen king or queen knows the progression of holidays only means out of the frying pan and into the fire.
By: John Lamb, INFORUM
FARGO – Those who felt the heat slaving away over the stove Thursday got a reprieve after the family feast gave way to leftover Friday.
But any kitchen king or queen knows the progression of holidays only means out of the frying pan and into the fire. No sooner is the Thanksgiving table cleared than talk of Christmas baking begins. Weeks before your holiday dinner is put in the oven, visions of sugar cookies are tickling sweet teeth.
If you’re already burned out on holiday cooking, help is just a phone call away.
Local commercial bakers say more and more people are going outside the home for their holiday baking.
“We get a lot of people coming in saying, ‘You’re doing my Christmas baking for me this year. I just don’t want to do it anymore.’ That’s a story we hear a lot,” says Pete Fendt, co-owner of Quality Bakery.
“People don’t bake as much because they are younger families,” says Patrick Friese, longtime bakery manager at Hornbacher’s, now stationed at the Osgood location in south Fargo.
Tracy Walvatne, who has owned Josie’s Corner with her husband, Randy, for eight years, sees it differently.
“It’s just that people don’t have the time or the inclination. Some people just don’t like to bake,” she says.
People may not have the time or desire to bake, but that’s not cutting into Christmas cookie consumption. Each of these bakers – and more – report continual business growth over the past years.
While business has changed, tastes haven’t. Standard Christmas cookies are still favorites.
“We’ve been making the same cookies for years,” Fendt says.
Fendt grew up around the bakery, where his dad started working in 1956. The son followed in his footsteps and has been working there full-time since 1973 and a co-owner since ’82. Many of Quality’s recipes are from his wife Marcene’s mother, like peanut blossoms, spritz cookies and pecan horns.
“The cards I’ve got with the recipes, I’m sure are 50, 60 years old. We’ve been making these for a long time,” he says.
Fendt’s store hosts its own “cookie exchange” from 4 to 7 p.m. Dec. 6 and 11, when customers can pick and choose from varieties, creating trays of 12 dozen cookies for $55.
Friese says thumbprints, peanut butter blossoms, sugar cookies, spritz and macaroons are big movers at Hornbacher’s six stores.
“Between now and Christmas, we can do over 100 dozen of each,” he says.
Josie’s may be smaller, both physically and with only two bakers, but Walvatne expects they’ll sell more than 1,000 dozen cookies.“We’re small and make each item by hand,” she explains. “Thinking that we touch each cookie three times by hand, that’s enough to keep us busy.”
While sugar cookies are still a hit, peanut butter stars and crinkle stars are the most popular, selling for $9.50 a dozen or $5 a half.
Her gingerbread people (men and women) also come decoration-ready with a hole in their heads to hang on the Christmas tree.
Nichole Hensen says gingerbread stars – similar to regular gingerbread cookies but thinner and crispier– are big movers at her Nichole’s Fine Pastry.
While cookies take a back seat the rest of the year, Hensen and her staff role out some artisanal cookies like linzer, rugelach, palmiers and more for $17.25 for three dozen (the minimum amount ordered). Poppyseed thumbprints, coconut macaroons and sugar cookies run $10.50 for three dozen.
In addition to other sweets, she also offers seasonal specific flavors like spiced rum cakes and bûch de Noëls (Yule Logs).
She even plans on making krumkake, the brittle, rolled Norwegian cookie for special orders.
“We haven’t put it on the menu because I’ve sold as much as I can make,” she says.
Those European sweets are staples at bigger operations.
At Quality Bakery they offer Scandinavian krumkake, sandbakkels, rosettes – with or without chocolate dipping – and the Germanic pfefferneuse.
Hornbacher’s started making rosettes three weeks ago, and they’ll continue frying the flaky delicacies that sell for $7.99 a dozen until the New Year, pumping out 60 to 70 dozen every two days.
Friese says he’ll go through 60 loaves of julekake in two days.
“The week leading up to Christmas, people buy it up like it’s on fire,” he says.
Look at these stores’ holiday baked goods offerings: