The story behind The Kneaded Knook Bakery & Café is a unique one that has made national television.
Using the motto “Always from scratch to scrumptious”, owner Deb Anderson opened the business on Nov. 27, 2014 near the main corners in Straffordville.
“I’m kind of a Jill of all trades,” she said. “I have been baking and cooking all my life. I baked and cooked out of my house for other people for years. I was a personal chef for a couple of years. When I moved here in 2012, I decided I wanted to do something I always wanted to do.”
Originally from Manitoba, Deb moved to be closer with her children. With one of her children in Belleville and one in Alliston, she wanted a location in between.
With a need to do something, she looked at fulfilling her long-time desire of starting bakery.
“I looked at other places, like Tillsonburg, and thought if I got too busy it would be too much since I was doing it by myself,” she said.
One of the other twists in Deb’s story is she was 62 when she started the business.
Initially, the bakery’s staple items were breads, pies and cinnamon buns.
“All my products are all handmade right from scratch,” Deb said. “The saying is from scratch to scrumptious.”
Explaining more about the breads, she said beyond simple recipes were some flavoured options including jalapeno and cheddar cheese, dill pickle, and fresh garlic and cheddar. A unique product is the pull-apart bread loaded with fresh garlic and three cheeses for the barbecue or oven. California bread is a half loaf of French bread with garlic, cheeses, peppers and jalapeno.
She even gets creative with cinnamon buns, a customer favourite. “They’re not normal run of the mill cinnamon buns, they’re very large. In the fall we do carrot cinnamon buns and we’re going to introduce a pumpkin spice cinnamon bun.”
She adds special touches to the pies for the best flavour. The lemon meringue is made by squeezing lemons to get the juice for the fillings. The fruit pies are made with fresh fruit and feature unique combinations with funny portmanteaus like blapple (blueberries and apple) and crapple (cranberry and apple).
She also has bread puddings. “They’re nothing like grandma used to make. We have a crapple, and rhapple - rhubarb and apple. Then we have a caramel vanilla sauce you heat and serve over top of them.”
Although the products are “from scratch to scrumptious”, it was relatively unknown outside the immediate area. That changed when the Food Network Canada contacted Deb last August. In the show, Steve Hodge, a pastry chef, renowned chocolatier and entrepreneur and design guru Tiffany Pratt provide makeovers for bakeries in need of assistance.
“They were searching on the Internet looking for an out-of-the-way bakery,” Deb said. “They came across the Kneaded Knook and couldn’t let go of the name of the bakery because it was so unique.”
While Steve worked in the back with Deb on adding to the bakery’s menu, a curtain was put up so she couldn’t see what Tiffany was doing in the front with the makeover.
The Kneaded Knook was closed from Oct. 1 to 9, 2020 for the filming. When Deb went through the front door, she was blindfolded so she couldn’t see the progress.
She was in for quite a surprise when she saw the makeover. “There was so much going on in the front it was all curtained off so we couldn’t see. It was a huge surprise when we finally got to see it on the ninth. We were blown away, it is so beautiful. I think there was quite a few happy tears shed that day.”
Deb talked about the filming process, saying, “I’m not an actress. It was an amazing experience.”
Madeleines are one of the three new items added to the bakery’s menu from the show. It’s a French pastry that is a small handheld cake that Deb said is like a little clam filled with blueberry compote and pastry cream.
Upside-down cakes with a twist in how they are decorated is another new addition. “It’s a takeoff of the old upside down pineapple cakes we used to make only it’s upgraded, enhanced,” Deb said.
The last of the three new items is a galette, which is a tart-like flakey all-butter pastry with either caramel-apple filling or a combination of cheese, sausage, bacon, tomatoes and fresh basil. “It just melts in your mouth. It’s like a rustic pie.”
The finished Project Bakeover episode aired last June, and can still be seen on the Food Network Canada’s website.
When asked what it was like to see herself on television, Deb answered, “It was weird and exciting. Every time you see something silly, it was like ‘I did that?’”
The attention from the show helped the Kneaded Knook “big time”
“We still get people from everywhere - Burlington, Windsor, Sarnia, Calgary. It’s been amazing,” Deb said.
There was also some work done on the exterior, which has increased roadside visibility and appeal.
Before the show aired, Deb said she was steady on and off. Now she said she is very busy, with one part-time employee.
The Kneaded Knook is open Fridays and Saturdays 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., with Deb saying it takes four days to get ready. She also supplies breads to the Elgin Feeds Farmers Market in Aylmer and Bayham’s Countryside Farmer’s Market.
One of her goals was to become busy enough so she could take more time off to visit her family. “That’s happened so far because I am down to a few days a week and I’m able to go and see my kids and grandkids.”
In a normal times without pandemic restrictions, The Kneaded Knook also serves lunches such as quiche, sandwiches and soups – all made from scratch.
Jeff Helsdon, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Aylmer Express