Fresh out the oven

Baltimore Sun - - MARYLAND - Pho­tos and text by Bar­bara Had­dock Tay­lor

James W. Ham­lin, who grew up in the Druid Heights neigh­bor­hood, wanted to bring peo­ple back to Bal­ti­more’s his­toric Penn­syl­va­nia Av­enue. He hoped to pro­vide the com­mu­nity with a valu­able ser­vice and of­fer a unique prod­uct to en­tice vis­i­tors.

The re­sult is The Av­enue Bak­ery, which opened in the summer of 2011. The bak­ery makes cakes, pies, muffins, cook­ies, crois­sants and cob­blers. By Thanks­giv­ing of that year, word was out that the Av­enue’s sig­na­ture item, “Pop­pay’s” din­ner rolls, were some­thing special. The rolls, which Ham­lin has been mak­ing for around 20 years, were named by his grand­daugh­ter Bria.

Pop­pay’s rolls at Thanks­giv­ing have quickly be­come a tra­di­tion for many Bal­ti­more-area fam­i­lies. They draw peo­ple from Vir­ginia and Penn­syl­va­nia as well. Cus­tomers place orders well in ad­vance, but the bak­ery makes dozens more avail­able on a first-come, first-serve ba­sis on the day be­fore Thanks­giv­ing.

Ham­lin and his fam­ily and friends baked around 400 dozen rolls this week, work­ing around the clock since Monday night.

Jules Howie, a reg­u­lar cus­tomer, picked up her rolls Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon and said the bak­ery is “a treasure, a bea­con of light in the com­mu­nity.”

James W. Ham­lin, owner of The Av­enue Bak­ery in Druid Heights, pulls a tray of his “Pop­pay’s” din­ner rolls from the dough proofer. Next, they’ll be trans­ferred to the oven for bak­ing.

Reg­u­lar cus­tomers Grace, 8, left, and Jules Howie leave The Av­enue Bak­ery on Wed­nes­day with a dozen rolls. Jules Howie said the bak­ery is “a treasure, a bea­con of light in the com­mu­nity.”

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