HER Eats

Am­brosia Bak­ery adds sa­vory to sweet

The Sentinel-Record - HER - Hot Springs - - Contents - Story and pho­tog­ra­phy by Lorien E. Dahl

In clas­sic Greek and Ro­man mythol­ogy, am­brosia was con­sid­ered the food of the gods.

But in Hot Springs, even mor­tals can par­take in pleas­ing their palates by tak­ing a trip to the new­est space for all things fresh from the oven — Am­brosia Bak­ery’s ex­panded lo­ca­tion at 307 Broad­way.

This is the fourth build­ing for own­ers Mil­lie Baron and hus­band Mick Stoy­anov, who started out on Air­port Road in a tiny lo­cale and were able to grow with each move.

“We had been look­ing for a long time to have our own build­ing, and right here on the Green­way was just the per­fect spot for us,” Baron said while sit­ting at a cafe ta­ble within the airy din­ing space.

Both break­fast and lunch can now be en­joyed in-house, and Baron said there’s been a good re­sponse from the public so far. “Lunch is some­thing we’ve wanted to do for a long time, be­cause it’s kind of a unique thing that ev­ery­thing on our lunch menu is made in the bak­ery. It’s a nice com­ple­ment that peo­ple can have fresh sand­wiches made on bread that’s baked here.” And, of course, “While they’re here, they can get a lit­tle cookie for dessert or take home a cake or rolls,” she said.

So far, best-sell­ers have been fa­mil­iar items, like tur­key, ham or roast beef sand­wiches, but, she said, “some peo­ple are ad­ven­ture­some and are try­ing some of the new things that you can’t get other places,” in­clud­ing pan­zanella salad — made with fresh tomato, cu­cum­ber, red onion, bell pep­per and grilled baguette, all tossed in a Kala­mata olive vinai­grette sea­soned with basil they grow them­selves.

There’s def­i­nitely a Mediter­ranean flair to the sa­vory side of things, with menu items like a chorizo and goat cheese pas­try, a sand­wich of roasted egg­plant and pep­pers with a gar­lic tomato sauce, and a lemon feta orzo pasta.

A share­able item, ei­ther in the bak­ery or as a takeaway, is Egyp­tian-in­spired dukkah, which is served as bread cubes that cus­tomers can first dip in olive oil, then into a nut and spice mix­ture of crushed pis­ta­chio, sesame seeds, co­rian­der and cumin.

These new fla­vors, though, do noth­ing to de­tract from Am­brosia’s sweeter side.

Baron and her staff keep six fla­vors of large cakes ready for walk-in cus­tomers, along with four ad­di­tional fla­vors in smaller cakes. Any can be dec­o­rated rel­a­tively quickly with a sim­ple “Happy Birthday” or “Con­grat­u­la­tions,” eas­ing the stress of last-minute needs, com­plete with party plates, nap­kins and can­dles that can be pur­chased for most any oc­ca­sion.

For those able to plan ahead, cake and cookie or­ders can be com­pletely cus­tom­ized. Baron said their dec­o­rated cook­ies have been or­dered by peo­ple from

"some peo­ple are ad­ven­ture­some and try­ing some of the new things taht you can't get other places"

all over the world, with lo­cal cus­tomers pick­ing them up, repack­ag­ing and send­ing to such far­away places as New Zealand.

One year, a Pres­i­dent Clin­ton cookie cut­ter was fash­ioned, and the treats were dec­o­rated to look like him, then shipped, in honor of his birthday.

Changes over the past 21 years in busi­ness in­clude the cus­tomers’ ac­cess to the in­ter­net, with sites like Pin­ter­est spark­ing imag­i­na­tion. Grooms’ cakes are in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar, and can get as de­tailed as a com­plete sports sta­dium with lo­gos on the field and fon­dant fans wear­ing team col­ors.

The wed­ding cake busi­ness has grown im­mensely, as the Spa City has be­come a nup­tial des­ti­na­tion. Trends she’s see­ing now in­clude “naked” cakes with lit­tle ic­ing, that al­low a rus­tic look and flo­ral show­case. These go along es­pe­cially well with the barn cer­e­monies that are en vogue.

Am­brosia sup­plies sev­eral lo­cal restau­rants with bak­ery prod­ucts, and takes huge or­ders for busi­nesses like the Hot Springs Con­ven­tion Cen­ter and Oak­lawn, serv­ing hun­dreds at a time, so an event’s size is not a prob­lem.

Emo­tional con­nec­tions with their goods abound, formed from gen­er­a­tions of lo­cal fam­ily mem­bers de­light­ing in birthday cakes and hol­i­day treats from the bak­ery. Baron sweetly said, “You be­come part of their fam­ily cel­e­bra­tions.”

Even she has sen­ti­ment at­tached, by way of the East­ern Euro­pean filled rugelach, made us­ing her grand­mother’s recipe — “Every time I eat one of those, I think about her,” she said.

Baron is also fo­cused on the planet’s fu­ture. “Re­cy­cling is a big part of what we want to be do­ing here. All of our to-go items are in re­cy­clable con­tain­ers, and we’re re­cy­cling in the bak­ery, too, ask­ing cus­tomers to help us with their cans and plas­tic. We’re try­ing to be good stew­ards for the com­mu­nity.”

The bak­ery is more than a job to Baron and her hus­band, it’s their fam­ily. She calls the busi­ness their “fifth child,” and takes pride in every dough, frost­ing and bat­ter. “We have a re­ally strong de­sire to get it right for the customer.”

Bak­ery hours are 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. week­days, and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Satur­days. Ad­vance or­ders can be called in to 501-525-4500, and cakes with fon­dant work need more than a week’s no­tice.

mil­lie baron

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