For a taste of the sweet life in Hanover, look no farther than Jacquelyn’s Bakeshop & Café. Stepping inside this bakery and coffee shop on the Baltimore Pike is like dropping by the home of a friend and being invited to pull up a chair and escape from the pressures of the world.
Owner Jacquelyn Adams is like that friend, and her bakeshop and café is like that home; a place where homebaked treats and conversation mix together freely. Adams is a big believer in keeping it fun — and how can you not have fun when you’re putting the sweet spots into someone’s day?
The mantra “if it’s not fun, you’re doing something wrong” is one she’s embraced from the day she opened the business in December 2012. Shades of teal, gray and dark blue jazz up the interior where she displays her quirky collection of paraphernalia accumulated over the years; vintage whisks and egg beaters, a letterpress board, embellished stars and a Bigfoot and yeti wedding cake topper.
The eclecticism in the décor mirrors the diverse and divergent paths that led Adams, a Hanover native, from East Coast to West Coast and back again. Following her graduation from Syracuse, where she earned a degree in creative advertising and psychology, she worked in New York City before making the transcontinental journey to Seattle.
With a love for baking that couldn’t be quelled, Adams said she contemplated opening a bed-and-breakfast at one point, but her interests in the kitchen eventually lured her back to Pennsylvania where she enrolled in the Pennsylvania School of Culinary Arts. From there, happenstance put her in the right place at the right time to invest in her entrepreneurial dreams of owning her own business in her hometown of Hanover.
Bake Like You Mean It
Never one to skimp on quality, Adams brings freshness and flair to her days in the kitchen. On any given business day, customers can be treated to a display of the savory and the sweet; cakes, cookies, cupcakes, fruit puffs, quiche and sandwiches, to name only a few of the offerings. Occasional specials include doughnuts, French macarons and scones.
But if there’s one day of the month that brings people from all corners of the borough and beyond into the bakeshop it’s cookie day. Held on the 12th day of every month (with adjustments if the day falls on a Sunday), it’s the one day of the month where $12 nets you 12 cookies from among the dozen plus varieties Adams bakes up exclusively for the occasion. From chocolate chip and sugar cookies to fun and funky flavors including the newest Pecan Turtle — a chocolate cookie with bits of caramel and pecans — and lemon lavender, there’s no shortage of smiles when customers walk out the door with their cookies in tow.
In total, her cookie repertoire numbers more than 30 different varieties. Many of the recipes are ones she remembers eating as a child from her mother’s kitchen cookie jar. “I probably have about six or so base recipes for cookies that can be turned into many flavors simply by being creative and fun with flavors,” she said. Gluten-free offerings include peanut butter, peanut butter Nutella and coconut macaroons in eight different flavors.
Cupcakes, too — with an occasional themed Cupcake Day featured about every other month — are swoon-worthy creations that beckon beneath glass cloches on the countertops. Adams also displays her baking artistry in cakes that indeed taste as good as they look. Her 16 cake flavors encompass the familiar Devil’s Food and carrot cake varieties to more complex combinations such as chocolate stout and Earl Grey tea. Icings carry 28 flavor varieties encompassing fruits such as mango and pineapple to more adventurous additions such as Cholula Hot Sauce and Jameson Irish Whiskey.
But don’t spoil your appetite for the savory lunch offerings featured on the extensive vegetarian menu. Fancy some quiche or a caramelized onion tart bedecked with Gruyere and Parmesan cheese? Perhaps you care to pair a freshly prepared soup with a salad, wrap, or pretzel sandwich incorporating interesting cheese and vegetable combinations.
Adding Sweetness to Your Sips
Whether your beverage of choice is hot or cold, there’s always something brewing behind the counter.
Coffee lovers will appreciate the tastes of fair trade and organic Grounds for Change coffee in their cups. Adams said the full-bodied, rounded flavor of the coffee also lends itself to the base of many coffeehouse classic iced and warm drinks that her team of baristas can create; cappuccinos, lattes, macchiatos, mochas and steamers.
Hot teas, iced teas and frappes … the fun continues with smoothness in the smoothies that Adams encourages her customers to mix and match with flavors. “I love talking things out with people to come up with the drink they want,” she said.
Sip a cookies and cream frappe made with iced coffee — the taste is like drinking a bowl of liquid cookies and cream and coffee ice cream combined. Hot and iced chai teas provide year-round comfort, but during the summertime, some homemade lemonade or an Italian soda flavored with your choice of syrup is just enough to take the edge off the heat and humidity.
Whimsy Within the Art of Baking
Baking, Adams stressed, is an exact science: You can alter a flavor, but you can’t alter a proportion of an ingredient. Despite her attention to recipe details, her creativity in the kitchen manifests itself down to the colorful vintage-style aprons she wears.
“When the shop opened, I realized I’d be here six days a week, and I told myself I’m never going to wear chef whites for the rest of my life. Every Christmas, my sister has been giving me these fun aprons, and they fit my personality more than the chef whites,” she said. “Even though I go home covered in flour, I feel like more of my personal identity is preserved.”
Despite the long hours she logs each week — hours which can almost triple during the busy holiday season each year — Adams said she doesn’t regret the decision to return to her roots and keep Hanover happy with her baking.
“I’m thankful for the time when I lived away from here because now I appreciate this small town. It’s a great place to raise a family, and I feel blessed to be a part of it. There’s a lot more going on here now than back when I was a kid, and I’m watching people making Hanover a cooler place to be.”