As I walked through the doors of the newly opened A-Frame Bakery (1194 Cold Spring Rd), I was hit by the overpowering smell of something I sorely missed â€“ butter. In case you haven’t noticed, the College’s desserts are made mostly with margarine, a sad substitute for the real McCoy. After I smelled the butter, I saw a pile of empty Costco packages of butter off to the side of the oddly shaped little bakery â€“ and that’s when I knew that things were going to be all right.
A whole family awaited me behind the counter; a couple of adorable tykes greeted my companion and me, and an enthusiastic teenager took our orders. The shiny glass case held a plethora of baked goods, ranging from muffins to blondies to brioche. My companion and I left the bakery with brioche ($1.25), apple muffins ($1.25), apple cake ($3/quarter) and a sesame cookie ($0.50).
On the ride back to campus, my companion offered me some of her apple muffin. The spiced golden muffin had raisins and huge chunks of tart apples, but my favorite part, as is everyone’s, was the top, which had the delicious, nutty flavor of brown butter â€“ it almost tasted like toffee. I also enjoyed the texture: it was chewy instead of crumbly like most muffins, and the apple chunks were still fairly juicy.
I didn’t want to overload on apples before I tried the cake, so I moved on to my sesame cookie. The cookie had a nice flavor â€“ butter and toasted sesame â€“ but the texture, neither chewy nor crispy, was somewhat underwhelming.
Back on campus, my companion dug into her brioche. “How is it?” I asked. She shrugged and said, “It’s aight.” When I turned to my own pastry, I was already suspicious of it â€“ with its swirls of apricot preserves, it was certainly not a traditional brioche. But most alarming was its pale color â€“ brioche should be golden and puffy. I bit into it and it was “aight,” but it wasn’t brioche. It was a little dry, and it didn’t make my paper bag clear with buttery grease. As Judge Judy once said, “Don’t pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining”; don’t hand me an apricot-swirled roll and tell me it’s brioche. But despite its lack of authenticity, the bread was fresh and the apricot preserves did taste like they were of good quality.
The apple cake, however, was a real treat â€“ moist and pillowy with swirls of cinnamon and huge slices of tart, flavorful apples. Don’t be fooled by the name â€“ this is no treacly confection. It’s the sort of snack you could mindlessly gorge on until you realize you’ve eaten way too much of it. This is comfort food at its best â€“ a New England new basic. Its strength is in its hominess and simplicity, as is that of the A-Frame Bakery.
With its modest prices and family values, it’s clear the A-Frame Bakery is not aiming to be the next Magnolia Bakery (whose name I only use for the sake of recognition; I don’t like their cupcakes, but that’s for another day). The A-Frame Bakery exists to fill a niche; in this quaint little town, we needed a quaint little bakery, and the A-Frame more than delivers on that front. It seems contrived to say that the baked goods are made with love, but it’s hard to think they’re not when the owners are so enthusiastic and clearly take pride in the fruits of their labor. After all, do you know any teenagers who would wake up to work at a bakery at 6:30 in the morning? This positive energy is what makes the A-Frame Bakery so alluring. That, and butter.