Moving back home to New Boston after living in London for a year turned out to be a pretty sweet deal for Kelsey Dorwart. The software engineer has been able to take on the role of business manager for her mother’s home bakery, helping their products make it to the shelves of local markets and onto the dessert menu of Kiki’s restaurant.
Dorwart’s mother, Dana, opened the preservative-free Butternut Bakery three years ago after selling her baked goods at farmers markets in Seattle, Wash. The pair now sell their products at the New Boston Farmers Market during the summer.
“I’m not used to living at home, but my mother is amazing. I couldn’t ask for a better partner,” Dorwart said.
“We make a good team … she’s one of my best friends.”
Both women are self-taught bakers, though the younger Dorwart had the opportunity to work for a professional baker in England. They keep a binder of “tried and true” recipes that have become their own through trial and error, Dorwart said.
Seeing a gap in the “chewy granola” market, the duo created their Gabby’s Organic Granola Bars line. “Gabby would have been all over this … she loved organic food,” Dorwart said of her late grandmother.
Peanut butter chocolate chip has emerged as their most popular granola bar offering. Other varieties include mixed fruit and nut, apple cinnamon and mocha chip. “They don’t taste organic,” Dorwart said. “A lot of organic granola tastes like cardboard….”
The granola bars are sold at A Market in Manchester, Harvest Market in Bedford and Moulton’s Market in Amherst.
“There are a lot of bakeries out there, and making yourself unique is a big challenge — that is where our granola bars help us take that step forward,” Dorwart said.
The pair also sells their scones at A Market. Dorwart said they are not the kind that most Americans are used to because they are moist. “I loved scones in England … they were lighter, not the hockey pucks found in the States,” she said. “I don’t know what went wrong here…. You shouldn’t have to break a tooth, you shouldn’t need a pot of coffee to break it down.”
Dorwart said the secret to making a lighter scone, and any other pastry, is to touch the dough as little as possible: “The more you knead the dough and bring together the butter and flour, the tougher it will be,” she said.
The pair bakes both sweet (blueberry, apricot pecan, raspberry) and savory (cheddar scallion, spinach feta) scones, as well as a few seasonal flavors — peach during peach season and gingerbread at Christmas time. All of their baked goods are made using eggs from their own chickens, and in the summer the duo looks to buy local fruit for their scones, which Dorwart noted have a short shelf life because they contain no added preservatives.
The mother-daughter baking team uses three large Kitchen Aid mixers to whip up special-order cakes and cookies, both of which allow Dorwart to put her art skills to use. She spends so much time detailing each cookie, whether it be a flower, frog, bee, sailboat or sea creature, that her mother often tells her to “just frost them.”
“I like to think of cookies as pieces of art,” Dorwart said, adding that she took art classes as a child and continued her interest through high school. Not able to take art courses in college, she said her art “transferred over from a canvas to cookies and cakes.”
Butternut Bakery cheesecake, carrot cake, apple crumb tart and Black Out Chocolate Cake — Dorwart’s new favorite creation — can be found at Kiki’s restaurant in New Boston. The chocolate cake, Dorwart said, is made with dark chocolate, and fudge frosting is used throughout the cake and on top.
“It’s decadent but not so much that you are done after the first bite,” she said. “You can eat a whole slice of it.”