Dessert fit for a president: Raise a forkful of cherry pie in honor of George Washington

The sweet cherries packed into the Connie Jenkins Cherry Pie that's made at Down Home Comfort Bakery in Front Royal were grown in Michigan. Ashley Miller/Daily

FRONT ROYAL – “If George Washington would have had a pie from Down Home Comfort Bakery, he wouldn’t have had to cut down that cherry tree,” joked Keith Menefee, co-owner of the bakery.

The cherry tree myth is by far the most well-known and longest enduring legends about the nation’s first president. On Thursday, Washington’s 286 birthday will be celebrated across the nation with cherry dishes.

Not many holiday go by where pie isn’t a staple on the menu. As for Washington’s Birthday, cherry pie is a must.

Legend states that Washington was gifted a hatchet for his 6th birthday. He later went outside, chopping everything he could find and ultimately ended up damaging his father’s favorite cherry tree. Confronted by him, Washington’s most famous line, “I cannot tell a lie…I did cut it with my hatchet,” set in stone a fable that would be shared for hundreds of years with school children.

“Everyone loves cherry pie,” Maureen Menefee, co-owner of Down Home Comfort Bakery said. “Especially ours because our first ingredient is love.”

Maureen and Keith Menefee, owners of Down Home Comfort Bakery in Front Royal, are baking the Connie Jenkins Cherry Pie this month in honor of George Washington's birthday. Ashley Miller/Daily

Made with love, the Menefees’ cherry pie is the talk of the town.

Named for a former Front Royal resident, known for her compassion, the Connie Jenkins Cherry Pie,  is made with no artificial ingredients. “Everything is made from scratch,” Keith Menefee said. “We source all of our ingredients ourselves.”

Just like grandma made, he said.

The cherries come from Michigan, where Keith Menefee said the sweetest ones grow.

The pie itself is stuffed with as many cherries as possible, making each mouthful just as flavorful as the next.

“As soon as people walk in, they’re hit by the aroma of freshly baked pie,” Maureen Menefee said.

Her husband added, “And that’s because we bake everything here, right in the back of the shop.”

Other pies include all American apple pie, French apple, fudge pecan, and seasonal pies like strawberry and peach. Cookies include Shenandoah, Big Foot, and rocky road. The bakery also has a wide variety of mini quiches, cinnamon buns and breakfast bars.

The Menefees pride themselves on the quality of their baked goods. “We’re unique and different,” Maureen Menefee said. “And we plan to stay that way.”

In business four years this July, Down Home Comfort Bakery is run as a cooperative, working with other local businesses like Main Street Daily Grind, Oak Grill, and the Lady Auxiliary.

Fate brought the baking-loving couple together, and they haven’t looked back since.

“I was 8 when I learned to cook on a home comfort stove,” Maureen Menefee said. And when Keith Menefee was a teenager, he worked at a bakery in town. Friends introduced the couple through a blind date, and they both agreed, it was a perfect match.

“We love what we do,” he said. “But more importantly we love our customers. They’re the reason we’re here.”

Down Home Comfort Bakery is located at 120 E. Main St. in Front Royal.