By Mariann Hughes - firstname.lastname@example.org
STEPHENS CITY -- Brenda Myers dreams of a simpler time.
And with a little bit of flour, sugar and applesauce, she can whip it up into reality.
Myers, owner and sole operator of Aunt B's bakery in Stephens City, relishes the opportunity to bring down-home comfort back into her customers' lives, particularly through her famous applesauce cakes concocted from an old family recipe.
Citing fresh ingredients and meticulous care as the keys to her old-fashioned desserts, Myers jokingly warns customers, "If you're looking for a bakery that only does the gourmet, real fancy desserts, this isn't the bakery for you. Because I'm country, old-time cooking."
Myers' specialty, a smooth spicy cake made moist by homemade applesauce, is the most popular item with buyers. The homemade applesauce is made with apples from local farmer's markets, and her fruit and pumpkin pies are made with fresh, hand-cut items.
"Everything that I make is totally from scratch. I don't add any chemicals to it to make it last longer," Myers said.
Included in her repertoire is a host of other desserts including cookies, various pies, candies and dessert breads. She even offers her own homemade mixes for pies, crisps, cookies, muffins and doughnuts.
Myers currently operates her business out of her home, in a kitchen certified by the Virginia Department of Agriculture. While customers can stop in at her location on Main Street to place an order, Myers has not yet officially opened for business in the small, pleasant room that will soon showcase her baked goods selection. She is eyeing a March grand opening.
Myers said she began her business about four years ago after baking applesauce cakes and apple pies for a fundraiser for a friend with cancer. After requests poured in for the treats, she launched into a small business on the side while working a full-time job. Recently recognized as a member of the Virginia's Finest program ("It's a big-time plus," Myers said), she takes pride in carefully crafting each of her products.
"If somebody even orders 50 cakes, I will make each one individually," she explained. "I will not double the recipe to make two at one time. Because it changes the flavor, it changes the consistency -- I'm just not happy with that. Each cake is made one at a time. Each item."
In the face of the 20 to 30 orders she receives a week, that would be intimidating to some bakers, "but to me it's worth it. I want the customer to have the freshest, best-available product that they can buy," Myers said.
As the older generation may suspect, the bakery's name, Aunt B's, is gentle testimony to the lovable, plump character Aunt Bee of "The Andy Griffith Show." To Myers, Aunt Bee entirely wraps up the kind of atmosphere she is striving to re-create.
"I love the show, it's just back-country, old-time. That's just me. I mean, I'm very simple," Myers said with a smile.
"I just like the small-town atmosphere. When you have your regular customers come in, you can call them by name. I think that makes a big difference."
In addition to baked goods, Myers hopes to expand her offerings with made-in-Virginia candles and soaps. Her store also boasts a variety of unique gift baskets for babies, brides and bakers, and handmade novelty items and toys.
And -- in case you're wondering -- does Aunt B have an Opie? Well, kind of, but apparently Myers' 15-year-old son is too young to catch the joke or watch the TV show.
"He just doesn't get it," she laughed. "He sees that it's black and white and he just turns away."
To place an order with Aunt B's, call 869-2990 or 336-2416. Preorders are highly recommended to ensure products are finished on time. Aunt B's is at 5187 Main St., Stephens City. Current hours of operation are Monday to Friday 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Hours are subject to change after the store's grand opening in March. Myers also wholesales to Linda's Mercantile and West Oaks Farm Market in Winchester. Myers will deliver products for free in an approximate 20- to 30-mile radius of Winchester. For more information, go online to www.auntbscakes.com or e-mail email@example.com.