New Brunswick bakery Kelly’s Bake Shop draws in tourists and locals with its sticky, oversized sweet buns.
It’s the home of the sticky bun, Kelly’s Bake Shop, located on the shores of the mighty Bay of Fundy in Alma, New Brunswick.
Tourists from all over the world have sampled these famous cinnamon sticky buns – some actually work it into their itinerary.
“They come for lobster and sticky buns,” says bakeshop owner Aaron Elliott of nearby Hillsborough.
On a busy day, Kelly’s can go through nearly 3,000 sticky buns. The bakery also sells many other products, including squares, breads, pies, cakes, tarts, doughnuts – and cookies by the dozen. On the counter sit several large glass cookie jars, each filled generously with fresh cookies, and during a high traffic day, those jars can be re-filled as many as 15 times. Kelly’s also sells soups, salad plates, subs, sandwiches, chili, and chowder.
Mixes are taboo at Kelly’s Bake Shop – everything is made from scratch, even fillings, and these homespun recipes have been refined for uniformity.
Aaron Elliott was just a boy when his parents, Parker and Verna Elliott, bought the shop 27 years ago, which was established by Miriam and Judson Kelly in 1962. Elliott loved to roam around the bakery, with its tempting aromas and tasty treats. Ten years ago he bought the bakery from his parents, and now he and wife Angela run it. And, just like his boyhood days spent in the sweet-smelling shop, his son Parker, who is three, plays there too.
In 1996, the bake shop burned to the ground, but was re-built to its original size of 2,500 square feet, although another story has now been added.
During its peak season, Kelly’s has upwards of 13 employees, including students, and longtime employee Sylvia Rossiter, who has been with the bakery for 26 years.
“Sylvia is kind of the icon,” says Elliott. “She supervises the whole operation.”
Open just six months of the year, Kelly’s make the most of visiting tourists, and is open from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m, with baking beginning at 5:30 a.m.
“From the July 1st weekend right up to Labour Day weekend is pretty well straight out,” Elliott says. “We just work the tourism season and that’s it.”
Part of the baking is now mechanized with a divider/rounder, but otherwise traditional methods prevail. The kitchen is equipped with five deck ovens, one double and five straight backs – and all are fired by propane.
“We use propane ovens instead of the convection style,” Elliott explains, “because you don’t get as much browning in a convection oven as you do in a standard deck oven. It’s slower, but you get nicer colour. A propane deck oven is about as close as you can get to something cooked in an old wood stove without actually cooking in an old wood stove. It tastes better.”
However, it certainly isn’t cheap.
“… as gas prices go up, so does the propane. Our price of propane has definitely sky-rocketed, the same as fuel costs,” says Elliott.
All supplies are purchased from a wholesaler in Saint John, and the bakery’s flour comes from Halifax.
With its red gingham curtains, well-scrubbed whitewash, friendly service and old-style baking, Kelly’s Bake Shop does its best to be a memorable Maritime experience.
“We like to think that we give people a different experience down here than you would get at your larger bakeries in the cities,” says Elliott with a warm smile. “It’s kind of like an old ma and pa store.”
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