The Kneaded Knook Bakery and Cafe, which first opened its doors in Straffordville in 2014, recently celebrated its fourth anniversary.
“I always wanted to open a bakery,” said owner, baker and creator Deb Anderson. “I didn’t want to be laying on my deathbed saying ‘oh, I should have done that.’ So I just did it.
“I’ve kind of been a Jill of All Trades all my life, that’s how I class myself – I’ve done all kinds of things,” smiled Anderson, noting she moved to Ontario six years ago to be closer to her children.
She’s been cooking and baking out of her home since she was in her early 20s, but The Kneaded Knook was her first retail bakery.
Open from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday to Friday, and Saturdays 7-3, the Kneaded Knook (9240 Plank Road) serves breakfast and lunch. The coffee is on, and customers can dine in or take out.
Just this week, one of her daily menus included cauliflower cheese soup, fresh roasted ham slice on bun, cinnamon buns just out of the oven, oatmeal bread, lemon meringue pie, date squares, muffscuits, krispy Christmas trees, orange Scottish shortbread, chocolate shortbread, brownies… and more.
“I always have two soups on, a variety of sandwiches, and I always have specials. Thursday is always quiche, Friday is always a gourmet pizza (eg. perogy pizza). The other days, whatever my brain comes up with in the morning.”
Her motto is ‘from scratch to scrumptious’ and it’s a message she works hard to pass on to customers.
“Everything is done totally, totally from scratch. There’s nothing in here I don’t make. Seriously, I cannot make a boxed cake – I tried when I was a kid. I cannot do it. I have been baking and cooking from scratch ever since I was a kid with mom in the kitchen, and then my grandmother had a hunting/fishing lodge. I spent as many hours with her as I could and everything – everything – was made from scratch.”
Specialty baked goods include a variety of breads, buns, her signature (enormous) cinnamon buns, date squares, cupcakes, cookies, muffins and ‘muffscuits.’
“It’s part muffin, part biscuit. Can’t even remember when I came up with it. My daughter came up with that name. In it is cheddar cheese, bacon, and in the centre I’ve put half of a boiled egg. It is breakfast, but it’s also great for an afternoon snack. My campers loved them.”
She also bakes by request.
“A lot of what I do in here is just a ‘brain wave,'” she said, taking pride in the rare or even unique menu items as well as traditional recipes.
Just a couple weeks ago, Thursday afternoon, she had two kinds of muffins available – blueberry and grape.
“I had grapes left over and I thought, I’m not throwing these out, they’re going into muffins. And I’ve done it for years now. And I always get ‘that look’… until they taste it. I’ll try anything once, just throw things in.”
Oatmeal flax is typically a big seller for bread, along with jalapeno pepper and cheddar cheese.
“I use real cheese, there is a difference.”
Her pies are all made with real fruit, whole or by the slice. Even lemon meringue pies – she squeezes lemons to get juice to make the filling.
“That is the only way to have a lemon pie,” she noted. “And if you like lemon pie, you need to come out and have a piece of my lemon meringue pie.”
Another option is the ‘I Make U Bake’ which Anderson makes from scratch, freezes, and the customer takes home to do the actual baking at home.
“If somebody walks in and says ‘Oh you just baked a pie!’ You can say yes, you did… because you did bake it. And again, it’s all real fruit. It’s not pie filling out of a can or pail.
“I won’t cut corners, I won’t do it. I’d rather have happy customers.”
Her customer base, which includes Tillsonburg, ranges even further across southwestern Ontario, even as far as Windsor.
“I’ve got a couple that comes down from Paris. When I first open they were coming five times a week, and now she’s working but he comes at least three, sometimes four times a week. He loves the soup, loves the tarts. And when she comes, it’s bread pudding (a bread-based dessert).”
Creative catering, which follows her breakfast/lunch menu, is also available on request.
Summers are typically her busiest months, but after a busy Christmas season she will be taking the month of January off, and returning in February 2019.