By Courtney Searcy, Online Editor
Tucked away downtown or in obscure strip malls, Jackson’s bakeries have much to offer the sugar-savvy student willing to make the trip. The city offers treats made by experienced bakers offering everything from Southern specialties to Latin confections.
Baby Kakes and Honey
Baby Kakes and Honey, 669 Carriage House Drive, is Jackson’s newcomer, and if the purple exterior of the building does not catch one’s attention, Fay Anderson’s story will.
Anderson ran a successful bakery in Kansas when her health turned for the worse, and she moved to Jackson with a family member.
The family member took everything she had, and she became homeless. She then met her husband, and they began looking for spaces where they could open a bakery and get back on their feet.
She started doing bake sales to raise money and talked to the owner of the vacated building.
“You have to work and you can’t loose hope. Keep going no matter what,” Anderson said of the experience.
The bakery sells a variety of cupcakes, pies and cheesecakes as well as custom cakes.
“You’re going to see some things here you haven’t seen in Jackson before,” she said.
Anderson’s favorite creation they serve is a lemon chiffon cupcake, made with a light and airy cake and filled with lemon mousse.
Other notable treats include sweet potato pie swirled with cream cheese and the oversized chocolate and caramel packed Muenster cupcake.
Baby Kakes and Honey is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.
The Baker’s Rack
The sweets at The Bakers Rack, 203 E. Lafayette St., are reminiscent of the array of desserts served at a small country church potluck. Bakers line display cases with such customer favorites as Heath Bar cake, strawberry cake, cheesecake brownies and an assortment of pies.
The variety provides something for every sweet tooth, and they introduce southern specialties to the surprising number of tourists who trickle through.
“We have Yankees who come, and have never had chess pie — so we have to give them a piece,” said Laura Wooten, an employee at The Bakers Rack.
The atmosphere can be defined in one word: hospitality. Each of the staff exudes a small-town, southern charm as they serve each of their customers — many of whom they know by name.
“We have people from all walks of life. Lawyers, judges … we try to treat everyone the same,” Wooten said.
Hours are 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Sarai’s Panaderia and Taqueria
With lime green and purple walls and Spanish television blaring, Sarai’s Panaderia and Taqueria, 1433 S. Highland Ave., offers a cultural element not often found in Jackson.
Owners sell traditional Mexican pastries such as empanadas and cuernitos for 80 cents apiece. They also make homemade flan and cakes.
Empanadas are baked, triangle-shaped pockets of flaky dough filled with cream, pineapple or apple and dusted with sugar.
Most of the items are made with a mildly sweet dough reminiscent of a croissant and are shaped into a variety of fruit-filled or cream-swirled pastries.
Sarai’s is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
Sweet by Design
Sweet by Design, 207B E. Main St., is one of the latest additions downtown, and the bubbly personality working the register is the same avid baker who perfected the tasty cupcakes.
After Marla Pruitte was laid off in 2010 , she decided her love for baking could be a profession. Since December 2011, she has sold an assortment of cupcakes and custom-designed cakes from her small but functional storefront .
“I had a lot of people who believed in me and supported me … it took a long time to get here,” Pruitte said.
The pecan pie cupcake —a buttery cake with a crunchy pecan layer and topped with homemade whipped cream — is her most popular creation.
Each day she offers five freshly-baked choices at $2.30 a piece: pecan pie, red velvet, wedding cake, a chocolate-based cupcake and one of her other popular flavors, such as peach cobbler.
Sweet by Design is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.
The words “old-fashioned” are painted on the window in the storefront of Shirley’s Bakery, at 621 Old Hickory Blvd., in the Hamilton Hills Shopping Center, and those words reflect what Shirley Wernimont has been baking there for more than 20 years.
“We are an old-fashioned, made-from-scratch bakery — a dying trend,” Wernimont said.
The walls are covered in cake pans and photos of specialty cakes the bakery provides, but it also has plenty of options for those who want something small.
The bakery offers the largest selection found in town. There are multiple cases of cookies, cupcakes and danishes.
However, Wernimont said the most popular item sold at Shirley’s are the fluffy petit fours — small squares of cake coated in a layer of icing.
Most of their items are priced below $1, and cupcakes sell for $1.25.
The bakery is open from 8 a.m. to 5 a.m. every day except Wednesdays and Sundays .