(*All photos in this post are property of Gable House Bakery)
Sweet Treats At Gable House Bakery
Spring is officially here! With Easter’s celebration still lingering in my mind, my thoughts travel to sweet treats, pastry, and a desire to visit local bakeries. I love to explore the area and the many gifted people that are our neighbors. I was recently introduced to Nikki, who owns Gable House Bakery in Mifflinburg, PA. She is so talented, and her bakery turns out the sweetest of delights. I am so excited to share her story with you today. So, grab your favorite cup of Joe and settle in for another example of what it looks like to live a Breaking Average life! – FYI, after reading this post, you will want to head to Gable House for a decadent sweet treat… so save some of that coffee! Or buy another cup at Gable House, they sell East African Coffee Co. Coffee there!!! So good!
(Learn more about East Africa Coffee Company HERE)
Before we begin, let me give you a little background info… I was invited to participate in a test run of a new restaurant called Tomahawks that recently opened in Mifflinburg, PA. (FYI – Tomahawks serves Native American cuisine. I had an elk meat taco. It was delicious!) It was at this test run that I was introduced to Nikki Keister (Now Nikki Keister-Hornig! Congratulations, Nikki!) Prior to our introduction, I had tasted several Gable House Bakery items at various parties and events. The presentation of the baked good is always a WOW factor x 10 and the taste…sooo gooood! You can’t help but ask your hosts where the tasty treats came from. I had also picked up some of Gable House Bakery items while shopping at The Two Owls local grocery store. So when I was officially introduced to Nikki, I was well acquainted with her amazing baked goods. I asked Nikki if she would allow me to share her story on the blog, to which she kindly consented.
I am always blown away at the depths of people and their ability to create. I find I am rarely let down when I take time to ask people questions and really listen. I am often touched by their journey and their heart. Talking with Nikki was no disappointment.
I started by asking Nikki How she got started with her love of baking…
“I came home from a stint living overseas as part of a non-profit organization and just had no idea what I was going to do with my life. My mom (Donita Keister) was a wedding cake artist for about 25 years while growing up and then hung up her apron a few years before I came home in 2015. We talked about me potentially trying my hand at baking/cake decorating and honestly decided it wasn’t going to be lucrative enough. “
“We then saw this business model where there was such intention for good in the community. The particular model we saw was a thrift store running a women’s shelter and hiring the women staying there in the interim. We knew Mifflinburg didn’t need another Thrift Store (the one we have is great!), so we started brainstorming, and bakery seemed like the best option given the resource that my mom provided in her baking knowledge. My dad provided in his business savvy as a farmer. That was all I personally needed; a good “why.” Being an avenue of goodness in our community. I didn’t know what it would look like and knew it would take a lot of slow-building to get there, but it was an inspiring enough thought to take the leap. “
How long have you been baking things?
“I didn’t start really baking until I decided to open a bakery. Crazy, I know. We found the building, our current location at 441 Chestnut Street, and needed a full reno. So while my dad and his crew worked on the building, I started taking some cakes for friends and family and baking/decorating them at my mom’s house. The building was purchased in December 2015, and we opened the doors in November 2016. And in that time, I learned to bake.”
Learning to Bake
Was there someone in your life that taught you to bake, did you have formal training, or both?
“My mom! She is the most talented human I know – almost to an intimidating extent. In every creative endeavor, she sets her efforts to succeeds. No formal training, just what my mom and the internet and cookbooks taught us when we went outside her body of knowledge.“
So Much More Than Baked Goods
What drew you to this industry?
“I see baking and the things it produces as so wholesome and full of goodness. I was inspired by the home-baking legacy of both of my grandmothers, whose recipes we still use in the bakery today. How their bakes became so much more than family tradition, but now serve as capsules and snapshots of their love in their absence. Not only that but getting to carry on my mom’s legacy of baking for people’s big moments in life. And then there’s the lost art and charm of a hometown bakery that makes everything from scratch and just always smells like warm butter when you walk inside. Bakeries really moved to be a matter of convenience in grocery stores, and I think we’re moving back to just the joy of a place full of pastry and sweetness and goodness, where you might bump into someone you know and inspires wonder in your kiddos. Then there’s the fact that while baking is this expansive art that requires a lot of skill and constant discovery, there are also a lot of elements that are simple and truly anyone can learn and do successfully. It keeps me interested in what I’m doing with tons of room to grow and lots of satisfaction for my creativity, but also is a great vehicle for hiring lots of people with all kinds of different skill sets in a relatively low-stress environment.“
Gable House Bakery Staff
Do you have staff that helps you with the bakery?
“Yes! They are amazing! Often when I get in the same room with other people in the food industry, they talk about how good people are so hard to find. And I just can’t relate. I’m not sure how I got so lucky, but I’m so thankful for my staff.“
“My right-hand woman is Erin – she basically runs the kitchen these days. I’ve gotten to move into more administration and specializing in decorating and design while she manages the rest of the staff, the daily bakes, and many of the special orders. She came to us at such a serendipitous time, and honestly, the bakery wouldn’t exist today without her because I would have wholly burnt out by now. “
“Then there’s Kelsey, who was one of the first kitchen staff I hired when she was just 16. She now runs the storefront whenever Erin isn’t around, and she has also started to take on some of our cake decorating. She is so vital to keeping both Erin and me sane.“
“I also have a full-time assistant/communication specialist, Maddie. She just joined us a few months ago and has taken on so much that has made my life not always glued to my computer. She’s the sweetest and doing an awesome job. And then all my amazing part-timers – Tasha, Jess, Kayla, Lena. All truly a joy to work with.“
Gable House Bakery Specialties
Does Gable House have certain items that would be considered your specialty?
“I guess cake? We do an awful lot of it, and it is really in our roots because of my mom. As far as everyday goodness, sticky buns/cinnamon rolls, cream puffs, macarons, and cheesecake are probably our biggest sellers.“
Gable House Bakery Mission Statement:
Our Mission: to actively brighten lives through Goodness…
Goodness takes endless forms. It is the smell of homemade bread. It is strawberry filling made from local strawberries. It is eating the food you can’t get anywhere else but home. It is sitting down with a friend over coffee and biscotti to catch up. It is taking the effort to celebrate the life of another person. It is blessing a complete stranger. It is working together to create something. Goodness is an experience that brightens life. Gable House Bakery hopes to make opportunities for all these kinds of moments. We believe there is great goodness in our valley, and that is why we are committed to sourcing locally as much as possible to create a high quality in both our product and presence in the community. We are also committed to making the concept of caring for your neighbor a reality by being an avenue of giving from person to person.
For the Love of Neighbors
Your mission statement on your webpage is incredible! It shows your heart for your business and the community. Who or what is your inspiration?
“That’s…where do I start? I think my inspiration is always evolving. Faith, family, employees. But lately, it’s been, my neighbor. It’s hard to know how to paint this picture. She lives within walking distance of the shop and goes through seasons when she’s here every single day. She is such a joy to know – funny, honest, observant, and a wonderful friend. She genuinely makes my life brighter.“
“I’m not embellishing when I use those adjectives, and my employees all hold her in the highest regard like I do. She’s so special, and she’s always greeted in our shop like one of our own because she is. Whenever I see her treated with that kind of integrity and kindness, I’m reminded wholeheartedly why I exist here – to give someone so great a place where they can be recognized as such. Someone with whom we have a reciprocal relationship and is truly blessed to know, who we probably wouldn’t know otherwise.”
What drew you to Mifflinburg?
“I grew up here! I can do the most good in a place where I speak the “language” (Mifflinburg-ese), and have the most connections, and that I love the most.”
Made From Scratch and Locally Sourced
I Love that you are committed to using as many locally sourced ingredients as possible!
“Everything is made from scratch. Icings, fillings, pastry, all of it. It’s something that we are super dedicated to. We use local products/fruit whenever possible, and are constantly looking for ways to do that well. We just started using a local milk supplier, and we get almost all our fruit in season at the Lewisburg Farmer’s Market from growers.“
What are the plans for the Bakery?
“So many! We’re currently working with Kind Cafe to do a sweet little pop-up shop in Lewisburg, hopefully, to launch sometime this spring. I also just expanded my kitchen, so we have more space, which was so needed. I am also working on creating a more welcoming dine-in experience here, potentially maybe looking to add specialty coffee sometime in the future. And there’s always in my hopes that we can add some element of hiring folks who are in some kind of transition or struggle to naturally build good employee skills. We aren’t there yet – we’re still learning so much of the basics of how to do this, but I’m always working toward the goal.”
Support Your Local Business
It is always such an honor when someone allows me to share their creative dreams and accomplishments with my readers. I can’t thank Nikki enough for allowing us to learn about her Breaking Average Life at Gable House Bakery. Be sure to support this great establishment! Stop by and purchase some fantastic goodness, order a cake or baked goods to share with those you love! I know I will!