People say you can tell the quality of bread by listening closely to the crackle of its crust, and surely that’s true. But we also think you can tell a good bakery by the people that flood in during early morning hours, the looks of delight when they choose from the pastry case, the friendly chatter between customers and employees, and those sounds of pleasure when someone takes their first bite of a maple ginger scone. A good bakery is so much more than a producer of tasty things. They are also a community gathering spot where neighbors can share joy and walk away feeling nourished.
And if you ever get the chance to visit Old Village Bakery in North Conway, NH, it’s just this kind of place. Along with many other local producers, we’re proud to be a partner of this decades old staple of the North Conway community. With a small, hardworking team of bakers and retailers, they produce a stunning array of baked goods including breads, pastries, pizzas and more, five days a week. You can be sure that every time we stop by to drop off maple syrup, we walk away with some mouthwatering treats.
On our last visit, we took the time to get to know baker and manager, Margaret, a little better!
First, What is Old Village Bakery?
Old Village Bakery is a family owned and operated bakery that opened its doors to the Mount Washington Valley community in 2002. They pride themselves on fresh, handmade goodies for walk-ins, online orders, and wholesale customers. “We try to use the best ingredients we can, and we also support other local businesses and farms,” Margaret said.
Fans know to arrive early to snag the much-loved ham and Swiss croissants and many a local has made their Multigrain and English Toasting breads part of their weekly shopping essentials. “Our bread and baked goods are delicious, and we bake quite a wide variety of items” Margaret said, mentioning that their flavorful creations rotate throughout the seasons. Of course, you can also always grab a cup of Fair Trade, Organic coffee to accompany your baked goods.
And perhaps more important than the bread itself are the people who make and serve it. “We have a wicked good crew of employees, and in my opinion, we are a real community hub,” Margaret said. “Honestly, I’m not sure I can pinpoint exactly what makes us special. But clearly, I think so because I thought I would work there for a year and then go to grad school and that was 11 years ago! We really do seem to be a place where good people, customers, employees, and good food come together.”
Speaking of Margaret’s (somewhat spontaneous) 11 years at the bakery, she now has her hand in a little bit of everything behind the scenes. From weekly baking—can’t give that up!—to scheduling and ordering ingredients from suppliers like us, she has become a staple of the business just as much as it is a staple of the community.
“Every day when I go to work, I feel pleased to be there. Sure, there are some days when I’m dragging my feet, but I still love my job. I love baking delicious things and I love feeding people. I love to work at a place that brings people joy. I am always striving to be a better baker and hope that the fact that we care shines through in our products.” Well said, Margaret.
Breaking Bread All Around New England
If you haven’t picked up on it yet, many of our partners are like-minded when it comes to connecting local businesses across New England, and Old Village Bakery is no exception. They’ve put a lot of thought and care into building a bread program that allows them to support local producers and introduce their customers to other businesses in the area.
“We connect with growers in our area for produce on our pizza, or eggs for our baking. Or maple syrup from you!” A few years ago, Margaret amended their daily muffin recipe to include a healthy dose of oats and needed something to make up for lost moisture. Enter maple syrup stage left. With a light sweetness that perfectly matched the existing recipe, maple became an essential to their muffins and we couldn’t be happier they chose us! Now, it also plays a role in specialty items like maple nut or maple ginger scones, maple pecan cookies, maple bread pudding, maple short bread, maple ginger granola, and oatmeal bowls—yum!
“We also bake a fair amount of breads and pastries for wholesale accounts so we have good relationships with several restaurants, inns, and an ice cream shop,” Margaret continued. Sometimes, she will even call up other bakeries in the area to get their advice or insight on the latest news. Together they navigate ingredient shortages, supply chain issues, and ingredient sourcing.
It can be had work, and often expensive to source ingredients locally but the benefit is in more than just the quality of the components. “It’s very difficult to run a small business and if we can all help each other out however we can, that makes a difference in the community,” Margaret explained. “It’s also just heightens our connection to the land. For instance, I love the seasonality of baking. When it’s apple season, there are so many wonderful fresh apples close to North Conway that it seems criminal not to use them.”
And the idea is to extend that connection to the customers that visit their storefront in search of sweet treats. “I love that we live in a community where I have gotten to know so many people through my job, and then I see them around town and develop relationships outside of the bakery,” Margaret said. As businesses support one another, they also turn to their customers for support.
With the cost of ingredients on the rise, Margaret says that one of their biggest struggles has been balancing the increase in price of their finished products. They’re doing their best to avoid risking the loss of loyal customers and are relying on the community to continue to supporting them.
The best way to do that? Pay a visit to Old Village Bakery or make them part of your weekend routine. If you’ve never had their goodies before, try one of Margaret’s favorites like the chocolate croissants—made daily—or their spicey double chocolate cayenne cookies. And if you don’t live nearby but are drooling after all this talk of pastries, we have a gift for you. Margaret shared Old Village Bakery’s chocolate chip recipe with us so that even those far away can get a taste of their goodness at home.
Old Village Bakery Maple Ginger Granola
This recipe makes a large batch and yields about 20 half-cup servings. Granola can be stored in an airtight container once completely cooled for one to two weeks. If you would like a smaller or larger batch, you can use a digital recipe scaler to get the correct ingredient quantities.
1lb rolled oats
3.5 oz chopped crystallized ginger
1 teaspoon powdered ginger
1.5 teaspoons salt
2.5 oz sesame seeds
3.5 oz sunflower seeds
3.5 oz canola oil
6 oz maple syrup
Mix together the oats, both types of ginger, salt, sesame seeds and sunflower seeds. And oil and maple syrup and toss until evenly distributed. Spread on large sheet pans and bake at 325 for 40-50 minutes.