A Bakery Rooted in Community: Suzie’s Sweets
Flour can be a fickle ingredient. In the right hands it is essential to creating all sorts of baked wonderments. In the wrong hands, well, its use can bring disappointing results.
Years ago a friend did suggest that in addition to my few talents, I should become “more comfortable with flour.” But really, why learn to bake when there are so many superb practitioners of the art in our region?
There is a new phenomenal bakery enterprise in Cornwall, Conn., where baker Susan Saccardi is definitely comfortable with flour. That essential ingredient is in just the right hands with her.
Her baked goods are sold under the name of Suzie’s Sweets, an array of unforgettable baked desserts, breads, muffins, cookies, custom cakes and more — all of which use flour to good advantage. Well, except the flourless pastries. Those are very good too.
At present, because Saccardi has not located a suitable physical building in which to locate a commercial bakery, she sells her baked goods at farm markets (the Coop Farmers Market on the Green in Cornwall on summer Saturdays), the Local in West Cornwall on Fridays, and in her own roadside bake stand at 108 Warren Hill Road in Cornwall on Fridays and Saturdays.
“I sell out of everything every week,” Saccardi said.
During a conversation at her certified home baking kitchen in spring, Saccardi described her baking philosophy and experience. We were joined by her son, Dean, home from college and studying remotely — making him available to help significantly with the business.
Energetic and on the move, Susan came and went from the conversation to tend to baking sheets entering and leaving the oven. Dean kept the conversational thread on course.
He reported that business is brisk. The recent influx of residents from New York City who fled the pandemic are hungry for the quality of their products. Serving as the IT guy for the business, Dean created and manages the website at www.suziesweetsct.com.
“With the amount my business has grown, my family has been essential to the business. I would not be able to do what I do without them nor would I want to. It is definitely a family affair,” Saccardi said.
Dean agreed, adding that his sister Dana helps when she can. And adult children Beth and Brian, who do not live locally, are also involved. In fact, Brian recently devised a cone device useful in making bagels, a hugely popular new item.
Bagels and scones are baked on Saturdays, Saccardi said. “These are traditional New York-style bagels,” she said, reminiscent of those enjoyed in her youth.
“I really took a long time to get my bagels to where I remember them as a child,” she said.
Saccardi recalled that her passion for baking started when her children were young and she was trying to find foods that were not overloaded with sugar.
“I started reading labels and not liking what I saw,” she said.
Aiming to keep it “pure and simple,” she wanted to create pastries with lots of fresh fruit.
“I want to taste the flavor of the fruit and not the flavor of the sugar or added ingredients,” she said.
“I try to use organic ingredients, fresh ingredients, and real vanilla extract,” she said, steering away from anything artificial. She exclusively uses King Arthur flour from Vermont. People who are “comfortable with flour” recognize that brand as top quality.
Local farms provide ingredients wherever possible. Rhubarb, herbs, fruits and vegetables are sourced from local farms including Nutmeg Acre Farm in Warren, Conn., for rhubarb, and Ridgway Farm for maple syrup, Hurlburt Farm for cheese and Buck Mountain Herbs, all in Cornwall, and others.
Cinnamon buns are new and very popular, she said. Cookies include oatmeal raisin, molasses, chocolate crinkle and mocha.
Saccardi said that Dean and she are talking about developing more Italian and German cookies.
Dean helps with the bread and focaccia, the latter using fresh local herbs and organic olive oil.
Her turnovers are enormously popular, filled generously with strawberry, rhubarb or apple. Cinnamon buns and mocha cookies are big hits, too.
Muffins are highly prized by customers. Saccardi bemoaned commercial muffins where you can’t help but count the small bits of fruit once you break open the muffin. Disappointing.
“I love Cornwall and I love to support the community,” she said.
Some day Saccardi hopes to find the perfect site for Suzie’s Sweets, but for now she’s doing just fine with her farm market and farm bake stand and a reputation for handling flour really well.