SIDNEY — For most people a good measuring stick for the quality of food is how close it comes to good home-style cooking. For some the skills needed to produce good quality food are learned in cooking schools, but for others it is simply a way of life learned as a child at home and according to most connoisseurs of fine baked goods, home-style baking is best.
Tammy Lee, of Sidney, recently opened Apple Creek Bakery at 1245 Wapakoneta Ave., Suite A, in Sidney, next to Davis Meats. For as long as she can remember making home-style baked goods from scratch has been a way of life. Lee grew up on a farm in the Xenia/Beavercreek area along with her parents, two brothers and a sister. Life on the farm required an element of self-reliance and creativity concerning ways to make a living.
Along with the normal operations, Lee’s mother and father sold produce and baked goods at local farmers markets to help make ends meet. Preparing baked goods was a family affair although Lee remembers her and her sister helping Mom do most of the baking while the boys preferred being the guinea pigs who sampled the finished product to make sure it was good.
Years passed, Lee grew up, married, and soon there was another little family making baked goods. Lee’s passion however, was limited to preparing great treats for her family, friends, and the occasional school fund-raiser. Lee knew she was doing something right because her cookies, pies, and bread never lasted very long at home or at school functions, family reunions, and other places she took her food. Something that went with the territory was an endless array of complements on how good everything tasted with most suggesting that she should open a restaurant or bakery somewhere.
“People were constantly telling me I should be in the bakery business,” said Lee. “I thought about it for a long time and decided the only thing holding me back was the fear of taking the leap of faith necessary to kick things off. After much consideration and a little prayer I decided to jump in.”
After a lot of planning and making the necessary preparations at home she then looked for a good location to open a store; she found an inviting location sandwiched between Davis Meats and the Hair Crush Salon and Spa across from Clancy’s Hamburgers on the north end of Sidney. After a little renovation, a name was painted on the window and all the pieces began falling into place. Before long Lee was ready for business.
Since she would be doing the baking at home she had to meet all requirements mandated by the local health department, which she passed with flying colors. Apple Creek Bakery formally opened for business on May 2 and has been busy keeping up with the steady demand for her tasty treats.
“It has been a very exciting journey so far, I’m so glad I made the decision to open a store,” said Lee. “My husband, Billy, daughter, Sandy, and son, Aidan, along with my mother, Sandy Barnette, have been my biggest supporters and I’m thankful for all their help and encouragement along the way.”
Good news travels fast and it wasn’t long before people were waiting for the bakery to open each morning.
“Since the very first we have sold out nearly every day, community support has been great and running out of product is a good problem to have when you are in the baking business,” said Lee. “A lot of folks that shop next door or stop to get their hair fixed at the salon also stop in to see us and get some fresh-baked goods before going home; word is getting around and we’re seeing more new faces every day as well as quite a few loyal customers who stop in on a regular basis.”
As it was in her youth preparing the baked goods is a family affair.
“My husband, Billy, helps wherever needed and the children lend a hand as well,” said Lee. “My daughter, Sandy, is especially focused and asked for an Easy-Bake Oven for her sixth birthday and justified her request by noting it could be our ‘back-up oven’ in case the big one broke down.”
Each morning finds the Lees restocking the shelves with fresh goods and the fact they specialize in what they do seems to be a key ingredient in their recipe for success.
Lee’s mother, who spends a lot of time helping out in the shop noted they are a welcome addition to the community.
“People are so glad Sidney has a real bakery again, we hear a lot of comments from our customers about how they prefer home-style goods compared to the prepared stuff, they say there is no comparison, and based on our sales, I guess we must be doing something right,” said Barnette.
Lee uses all natural ingredients and everything offered at Apple Creek Bakery is made by hand.
“I strive to provide home-style goodness and quality at an affordable price, that’s what makes us unique and sets us apart from the big stores,” said Lee. “We try to have something for everyone and invite customers to ask for anything they’re not seeing on our shelves, if at all possible we’ll meet their needs. We offer custom services for those with special needs but require a least 24 hours notice to accommodate those situations.”
While Lee is still able to keep up with demands at present she is already seeing that expanding the business will be necessary before too long.
“Eventually we’ll have to remodel and put a bigger oven on the premises as time is a key element in providing the quality and quantities we provide,” she said.
Apple Creek currently offers a variety of home-made pies that are as beautiful as they are tasty along with plenty of cookies, cupcakes, muffins, and breads. Apple Creek also offers Lee’s own specially-prepared fruit preserves in a variety of flavors and raw honey.
Wednesday and Friday are “Gluten-Free Days” and one case is dedicated solely for those with that preference.
Apple Creek Bakery is open Tuesday through Friday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and is closed Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
Anyone having questions or requests may call the bakery at 937-541-3345 or visit their website, www.applecreekbakery.wixsite.com/applecreek.
The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.