By Jessica Mozo
It’s not easy keeping a century-old bakery alive, but Cindy Day seems to have mastered the task.
Day is the owner of the Dutch Maid Bakery in Tracy City, which was founded in 1902 by Swiss immigrants John and Louise Baggenstoss. Housed in an old brick building with charming hardwood floors, the Dutch Maid still beckons passers-by with the aroma of fresh-baked bread and friendly small-town service.
“The bakery has survived this long because of its great recipes,” Day says. “We ship fruitcakes all over the U.S., and we have unusual breads. Our salt-rise bread takes so long to make that you can’t find it just anywhere.”
Saving the bakery
Though you wouldn’t know it today, the Dutch Maid almost closed for good in 2004 when it was put on the market.
Fortunately, Day, who was living in Florida at the time, caught wind of the news and stepped in to save it.
“I had lived here before, so I knew about the bakery. It’s a landmark,” she says. “When I heard it was for sale, I told my husband we had to move back here and buy it.”
Day purchased the bakery in 2005, reopening it after a one-year hiatus. She also collected all the original recipes the Baggenstoss family used back in 1902. “We still use the same old recipes, and every loaf of bread is hand-rolled,” she says proudly.
More than just bread
Day has also incorporated a few of her own recipes into the batch of Baggenstoss favorites. She makes a variety of artisan breads such as Black Olive Roasted Red Pepper, Onion Dill, Sundried Tomato and Rosemary Olive Oil, as well as wedding and birthday cakes, pastries, sweet breads and cookies.
“Another thing that’s helped us survive is being creative,” Day says. “We have a café now, and once a month, we do an elegant evening dinner where we serve prime rib, salmon and other dishes.”
The Dutch Maid Café serves breakfast and lunch Monday through Saturday, and the menu includes a soup of the day and a plate lunch, along with sandwiches on fresh-baked bread, salads and desserts. The bakery also offers classes in cake decorating, gingerbread house making and even a class for kids to make Mom a personalized Mother’s Day cake.
“Occasionally we have cookbook authors come in and give demonstrations, too,”
Day says. Groups can call ahead to arrange a day trip to the Dutch Maid, with lunch in the café and a demonstration on bread making.
“I love being creative with breads to see how different flavor combinations turn out,” Day says. “I’m happy to show people how we make the dough and bake the bread.”
A slice of history
Though some things have changed since the Dutch Maid’s beginnings in 1902, much has stayed the same.
“The Baggenstosses raised five boys who all worked in the bakery,” Day says. “I have four kids, and they all help out, so we’re taking on the same tradition as the Baggenstoss family.”
Two widows of the Baggenstoss boys are still living, and they stop in the bakery from time to time. “They check to make sure we’re doing everything right,” Day says.
For more information, call 931-592-3171 or visit www.thedutchmaid.com.
Bakery Still Uses Early 1900s Equipment
When you visit the Dutch Maid Bakery, chances are you’ll find owner Cindy Day in the kitchen mixing dough with an antique mixer or slicing hot loaves of bread with a 1920s bread slicer.
That’s because Day uses much of the same equipment – supplemented by a few modern pieces – that the Baggenstoss family used nearly a century ago.
“We have old Hobart mixers from 1919 and the early 1930s, and our oven is from 1919,” Day says. “It was made in Germany and originally fired with wood.”
Even the bakery’s proofer room, where the bread starters are made, radiates old-fashioned charm.
“When you work in a state-of-the-art bakery, everything is computerized. But here we use a hot plate and a pail of water to create humidity,” Day says. “It’s kind of archaic, but that’s how they did it in 1902. It’s nostalgic.”