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Made From Scratch

Amaranth’s homegrown goods

Jul. 16, 2008
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The doors may be closed for the season, but the ovens at Amaranth Bakery & Cafe certainly won’t be growing cold this summer. Owners Stephanie Shipley and David Boucher are selling a large selection of their baked goods at two local farmers’ markets: Fondy Farmers’ Market and the Vliet Street Community Green Market at the Washington Park Senior Center.

“There are a lot of places we could go, but a big part of our mission is to give people in this neighborhood the opportunity to have high-quality baked goods,” Boucher says. “We’re not going out to a farmers’ market in Brookfield because it’s not our base. We’re committed to our base here.”

Shipley and Boucher have been instrumental in the revitalization and development of the Walnut Hill and Washington Park neighborhoods on the city’s West Side. The couple restored one of Walnut Hill’s historic treasures, a pre-Victorian home that was built in 1856. Two and a half years ago, Shipley and Boucher opened their quaint neighborhood bakery just down the street, at 3329 W. Lisbon Ave., as a much-needed gathering spot for the area’s residents. “This business is specific to this neighborhood,” Shipley explains. “I never would have done it anywhere else.” When the cafe is open, customers can sip Alterra coffee and choose from a large and varying selection of breads, cookies and morning pastries. The first to emerge from the ovens in the morning are favorites like almond, chocolate and butter croissants, cinnamon rolls and sweet potato brioche rolls with a pecan maple glaze.

Amaranth’s popular scones are made with whole grains and creative combinations, like cardamom pear and macadamia nut with ginger. “My first love was bread,” explains Shipley, and the proof is in her extensive selection of slow-rise artisan breads. Some are standards, such as rustic white sourdough, whole wheat and Italian, while others are more inventive, like potato chive, oatmeal date pecan and chocolate bread. Amaranth Bakery has also become known for its rugelach, a cream-cheese pastry made with ingredients like currants, apricots, raspber ries, cranberries and nuts. “We put a lot of work into the food,” Shipley says. “Absolutely everything is made from scratch.” The couple is committed to using locally grown and seasonal produce when possible and a great deal of the ingredients are organic. In addition to baked goods, Amaranth Bakery & Cafe offers slowly simmered homemade soups and salads made with fresh greens and vegetables.

One of the reasons the owners are taking a summer hiatus from their shop is to conserve energy. Though the building’s water is heated with energy derived solely from solar power, the air conditioner is not. By baking for the farmers’ markets on Friday, Saturday and Sunday only, Shipley and Boucher save the air-conditioner from working overtime six days a week in an effort to temper the combination of summer temperatures and the ovens’ heat. Amaranth Bakery can be found at the Fondy Market at 22nd Street and Fond du Lac Avenue on Saturday mornings from 8 a.m. until they sell out, and on Sundays at the Washington Park Senior Center from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. At the markets, “I’ll be doing breads, seven different kinds of cookies, rolls, morning pastries, pecan bars, raspberry bars and brownies,” Shipley says. The doors of Amaranth Bakery & Cafe on Lisbon will open again on Thursday, Sept. 4.


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