Keeping Christmas sweet

by Keith Barber

Keeping Christmas sweet

Jonathan Cooke, an eighth grader at Hanes Middle School, compared the experience of eating one of Dewey’s Bakery’s signature cream horns to eating a cloud. Jonathan’s younger sister Sarah, 11, kept her description of Dewey’s Moravian coffee cake simple and straightforward.

“Very tasty and yummy,” said Sarah. Jonathan and Sarah’s mother, Suzanne, went for the red velvet cupcake, one of Dewey’s more popular items during the holiday season.

One bite of the cupcake brought back a flood of childhood memories for Suzanne, a native of Harrisburg, Pa.

“This was the favorite and very special family treat for Valentine’s Day,” said Suzanne. “Even the name sounds romantic. I remember helping Mom make these totally from scratch, and dumping two whole bottles of red food coloring into the swirling batter and watch the cocoa-flavored batter turn from light brown to deep red.”

The Cooke family enjoyed a holiday sampler from Dewey’s newest cafe location at Harper Hill Commons in Winston-Salem on Dec. 4. I grew up with Dewey’s Bakery goods in my home, so I decided to sample my all-time favorite: the Dewey’s eclair. I took a moment to savor the aroma of the mouth-watering blend of custard, pastry and chocolate icing before giving into temptation. The hollowed-out treat held the most delectable custard I’ve ever encountered — the perfect blending of flavors that brought a rush of childhood memories.

Founded in 1930, Dewey’s has developed a loyal following with its delectable staples of Moravian sugar cake, Grandma and Grandpa coffee cakes, and Moravian Lovefeast buns.

Harper Hills Commons represents Dewey’s first foray into the cafe business and business appears swift indeed. The Dewey’s Christmas store has been part of the suburban shopping center for years. Three months ago, when the opportunity arose to open a high-end cafe next door, the local confectionary giant saw a golden opportunity.

“Coffee is a big business,” said Brooke Smith, a Dewey’s spokesperson. “For us, it was about having the perfect coffee to go with the baked goods we feature in the bakery every day.”

Coincidentally, the Dewey’s Cafe sits inside a former Starbucks location. But the atmosphere is decidedly different from that of a Starbucks, said Smith.

“Our customers are all different ages,” Smith continued. “We tried to make it open and family-friendly — a place where you could bring your family and have a meeting and hear yourself talk. We really did take into account who are customers are.”

As Christmas music gently wafts through the air, a visitor to Dewey’s Cafe is struck by the aroma of fresh roasted coffee and espresso beans. The Harper Hills location is the first Dewey’s Cafe to feature a full line of espresso drinks as well as specialty drinks like the pink lemonade cake frozen blended concoction. The recipe is simple: Take a square of Dewey’s famous pink lemonade cake and drop it in a blender. Then add dairy and ice and blend until your heart’s content. The result is a oneof-a-kind ice blended treat.

The pink lemonade cake frozen blended drink is merely one in an expansive new line of offerings from Dewey’s. The house-blend coffee offered at all Dewey’s locations is roasted fresh every week and delivered to the stores, and one day, the full line of drinks featured at the Harper Hills location will go in all stores, Smith said. And while other area companies are contracting their operations, Dewey’s is expanding.

This year, Dewey’s opened 22 holiday stores throughout North Carolina. The company is also scouting locations in Greensboro and Charlotte for year-round stores and cafes, Smith said. Dewey’s even boasts a new pastry chef, Alison Turner. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Turner has added her own line of custom cakes and desserts to Dewey’s menu. Dewey’s has also recently introduced 11 new flavors of Moravian cookies.

The big sellers this holiday season include Dewey’s ginger spice Moravian cookie latte, Moravian cookies and Moravian coffee cake, Smith said.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

For 80 years, Dewey’s has kept Christmas well and kept its loyal customers coming back for more.

“We have a lot of customers who come in and say, ‘It’s not the holidays in our house until the Moravian coffee cake is warming in the oven and the coffee is brewing,’” Smith said.

For eight decades, Dewey’s Bakery in Winston-Salem has keptChristmas well and its loyal customers coming back for more withsignature items like Moravian cookies, Moravian coffee cake and redvelvet cupcakes. [photo by Keith T. Barber]