Steppin’ Out – Way Back Bakery, Town of El Dorado

way backAlisa Smith, the owner of Way Back Bakery, is one busy lady, so I had to make an appointment to talk with her. That impressed me.

Her bakery, which is located a 6211 Pleasant Valley Road, Unit C, in the town of El Dorado, is about three doors west of Poor Reds, in the back. Yes, it is way in the back.

You go through the gateway, A Good Read Bookstore is on your right, jog right at Evelyn’s Closet, then jog left, enjoy the various and eclectic decorations as you continue into the coolness of the shade trees, onto the porch of the bakery and through the door into paradise.

Alisa is a “local,” having gone through our school system and graduating from Ponderosa High School. She has been in this business for four years, the first one operating it under its previous name of “Sugar Lillie Bakery.”

“I had the opportunity to run the bakery for a year before I purchased it and then changed the name,” she told me. “I wanted to make sure I didn’t just risk my family’s savings before I took the jump.

“I had been a stay at home mom for 16 years and was the cake baker for all of my extended family. I had talked about being a baker and one day my daughter said to me, ‘Why not do it?’ so I did. Other than raising my family it is the best thing I have ever done.

“I enrolled at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Sacramento, graduated and here I am. I found I had a gift for baking.

“I might add,” she continued, “that all my pastry chefs are graduates of Le Cordon Bleu.”

Alisa added breads to the menu of pastries, cookies and desserts that had been featured, but wedding cakes are still her speciality.

“We are the preferred wedding cake vendor for both Wedgewood at the Sequoia Mansion and at David Girard Vineyards.” she said, “and we do four to six wedding cakes a week.”

After a tour of the kitchen where three young ladies were hard at work, baking, icing and kneading dough, Alisa walked me by the cases stocked with beautiful looking scones, cookies, cinnamon rolls, puff pastries, cannolis and more. Then she asked the magic question: “What would you like to try?”

I know you are thinking: sweets, chocolate, gooey goodies, but no. I asked to sample a scone and some of her breads. I love the sweets, but I am very particular about other baked goods, like scones and breads. For 30 years I have been judging those at our County Fair and I am very picky in that area. Besides, I must watch my waistline I tell people.

Alisa brought me what she thought I would like: a rosemary lemon scone with a lavender glaze, slice of Kara’s Bread and two pieces of Italian stuffed French bread.

The scone was just as I like them: a bit dry and crumbly like cornbread, but not fall-apart. It also tasted delightful. The lavender glaze added a lot to it.

Kara’s bread was invented by one of her previous employees, who graciously allows her to continue making it. It is sourdough wheat, so it was a bit heavy, like real bread should be. Mixed in it are cranberries and pecans and then, before baking, it is rolled in shelled pumpkin seeds. It had a beautiful texture and beautiful taste. I took the rest of the small loaf home and toasted a thick slice the next day. Heavenly.

The Italian stuffed French bread is just what it says. They take a freshly baked French baguette, slice it lengthwise and insert salami, garlic cream cheese and pepperoncinis. Salty and tangy with the smoothness of the cream cheese on delicious bread. Well, what was left over was dinner that night. I’m surprised it made it that long without being nibbled away. Oh, they also make a Greek version of that sandwich.

A quick list of the baked goods they make includes the breads (including rosemary Focaccia), many flavors of English scones, muffins with fresh fruit in them, puff pastry (including a personal size quiche), fruit Danish, peanut butter, cranberry oatmeal and chocolate chip cookies (the only use Swiss dark chocolate), cinnamon rolls, brownies (fudgey – I sampled them), lemon bars and tarts, macaroons, cannolis and more. They even make a New Zealand Pavlova, which is a baked meringue bottom with whipped cream and fresh fruit on top.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is just a hint of what they make and they must be doing it right. In the past three years their walk-in business has doubled and they have tripled their overall production.

Speaking of fresh fruit, they use the best, sourcing it from local farmers and farms.

Alisa, who is really a people person, as you will find out when you visit there, credits a lot of her success to her employees. “They are vested in the business,” she said. “I have no problem at all leaving them here alone to run things. I am very lucky to have such a good group.”

Way Back Bakery is open Monday through Friday from 7 until 3 and on Saturday from 8 until 3. For more information call (530) 626-1900 or visit their webpage at www.waybackbakery.com.

Some of their products are also available at the Placerville Farmer’s Market which is held at the Bell Tower on Wednesday evenings from 4 p.m. until dusk, June through September.

Stop by and pick something delicious from their wide selection of goodies, and if you are at the bakery, get a cup of dark roast coffee and sit outside in the shady patio. You won’t want to leave.

Oh, ask about the playhouse and how they got the name Way Back Bakery.

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