Porter Bread Pudding and Recipe Roundup

Great Northern Porter bread pudding, butternut squash vinaigrette, roasted broccoli with tempeh, corona bean salad, mac and Milton Creamery cheese, grilled cheese with brie and strawberries, smoked salmon chowder, orange curd and classic scones, and Mediterranean dip.

Irish Veggie Pasta and Recipe Roundup

Cilantro pesto with pistachios and orzo, petit salé aux lentilles, Irish veggie pasta, grilled cheese and pickles, and scones with clotted cream and jam.

Meyer Lemon Curd and Recipe Roundup

Whole-wheat shortbread scones, classic lemon tart, crispy potato stacks, Meyer lemon curd, rhubarb ketchup, and celery root latkes.

Beans a Plenty and Recipe Roundup

Rustic pork terrine with chestnuts and dried apples, quick cinnamon-cardamom rolls, braised white beans, crock pot bean and sausage soup, southwestern fried rice, chicken and biscuits, black beans and pork, and oat and maple scones.

Cheddar Garlic Biscuits and Recipe Roundup

Cheddar-garlic biscuits, baked oatmeal, sweet potato and clementine scones, pulled pork egg rolls, spiced breakfast quinoa, cranberry cheesecake bars, and Colossal Cafe flappers.

Vegetarian Haggis and Recipe Roundup

Haggis and vegetarian haggis, grown up potato salad, Wisconsin cheese meets New Orleans, ground turkey and black bean tacos, sourdough French bread, Hungarian stuffed peppers, basil lemonade scones, and potato green onion pizza.

Irish Rebel Stew and Recipe Roundup

Bangers and mash, wild mushroom quesadillas, mixed berry Irish scones, Irish Rebel Stew, oaten honeycomb, and maple pecan salad dressing.

Scones Two Ways and Recipe Roundup

Salmon pie, CA-to-MN-to-ND Enchiladas, scones two ways, and cranberry crunch.

Homemade Crackers and Recipe Roundup

Homemade crackers and hummus, zwiebelpastete, Key West Caterer’s Sesame Almond Chicken with Mango Banana Chutney, breakfast bread, lentil soup with sausage and spinach, pumpkin curry pork tenderloin, glazed orange scones, split pea soup, and seriously good soup.

Pressure Cooker Recipes and Recipe Roundup

Oven fries with herbs and pecorino cheese, pumpkin scones with walnuts and chocolate, marinated pork chops, squash and green bean curry, Thai chickpeas and other pressure cooker experiments, and cider braised country-style ribs and butternut squash.

Sandi and Kara Younkin of Bars Bakery in St. Paul

Sandi and Kara Younkin hold a tray of lemon bars in their newly opened Bars Bakery in St. Paul.
Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

Editor’s Note: Bars Bakery is now closed.

The time: 2:55pm. The date: Saturday, Sept. 24. The location: Bars Bakery, on the corner of Selby and Dale in St. Paul. The bakery case: Empty, save for two doughnut muffins. Scratch that — make that one muffin as a customer slips in just before the 3pm closing time to grab coffee and a treat.

“We have been really busy, there’s no question about it,” says Sandi Younkin, who opened the small but stylish bakery just two weeks prior. “We’re working hard to keep product in the case! We’ve been trying to keep up with demand and not disappoint people when pickings are slim.”

If Younkin’s name sounds familiar, you’re not imagining things. The founder of Swede Hollow Cafe, Younkin spent eight years serving up sweets and sandwiches in St. Paul’s Dayton’s Bluff neighborhood before selling the restaurant in the early 2000s, and her canning prowess is on display at Tangletown Gardens, where her pickled vegetables demonstrate how one can make tasty use of excess produce. But having never settled into one career after leaving the restaurant business behind, Younkin realized it was time to strike out on her own again.

“I never really found a niche. After five years of bouncing around, it was time to create another job I liked!” she laughs.

Sweet and savory treats at Bars Bakery in St. Paul.
Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

Luckily, she didn’t have to look far for a business partner. Her daughter, Kara, had just graduated from the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs and wanted to embark upon a family-oriented venture that would allow her to spend more time with her young son. (“The truth is I have a really bad oven at my house and I had to open a bakery to bake!” Kara chuckles.) Together, Sandi and Kara developed a concept — a simple bakery, with good coffee and a small selection of packaged foods, including those Tangletown Gardens pickles. The menu would include a mix of sweet and savory treats that would appeal to morning commuters, neighborhood families looking for a fresh option for lunch, and weekend loafers who are content to enjoy a decadent scone or roll with their coffee. The location near the intersection of Selby Avenue and Dale Street was a familiar scene for Sandi, who lived nearby when she first moved to St. Paul 30 years ago and still shops regularly at the neighborhood businesses, and it brings in plenty of foot traffic.

“We thought it would be a good spot. The size is what we were looking for. We preferred to stay in St. Paul. I like Selby — a lot of things are happening here now,” Sandi says.

Working with local contractor Steve Kruser, the Younkins designed the bakery to be two-thirds kitchen and one-third take-out space, with room for three small tables inside the shop and three on the adjacent sidewalk when weather permits. Most of the business so far is take-away, though — customers pick up a cup of Intelligentsia Coffee for themselves and grab a box of goodies to bring home or to work.

“I’d like to squeeze in more tables. I still wanted [the bakery] to be a place you’d gather, like in Europe,” Sandi says. “So far, it’s worked out that way. There’s always a spot for someone to sit down.”

Bars Bakery in St. Paul
Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

And when customers do sit down, the items on their plates are anything from one of the cinnamon or caramel rolls Sandi created at Swede Hollow, to a snickerdoodle or molasses cookie, to a roasted green pepper and speck scone. A self-taught baker, Sandi incorporates locally grown and seasonal ingredients — such as Hope Creamery butter and Tangletown Gardens produce — into most of her wares. Her savory tarts, a popular lunchtime purchase, feature meat and vegetable combinations like potato, leek, speck, and ricotta, or squash, sweet corn, broccoli, ricotta, and goat cheese. And of course, there are those namesake bars: lemon bars, four varieties of brownies, congo bars, multiple kinds of shortbread, butter toffee blondies, and maple nut bars, to start.

“We started with a base [of recipes], and we’ll keep expanding. You want to create as you go and respond to what people want,” Sandi says. “We want to have a fruit, nut, and chocolate option every day.”

With long weekdays that begin with 4:45am prep and end past the 6pm bakery closing time, the Younkins do rely on help from their husbands, who provide bookkeeping and technology, along with moral, support. A few strategic hires, such as a Saturday baker and Sunday prep assistant, round out the crew, but so far, the mother-daughter duo is keeping their team small to preserve quality of product and service. They’re content to bake and brew until the neighborhood’s sweet (and savory) tooth is sated.

“Everyone asks what our best seller is, but when you’re out of everything at the end of the day…” Kara trails off. There’s no need for her to finish the sentence when the empty bakery case (a certain Heavy Table writer got that last muffin) speaks for itself.

Bars Bakery, located at 612 Selby Ave. in St. Paul, is open 7am-6pm Monday through Friday and 7am-3pm Saturday.

 

Signature bars at Bars Bakery in St. Paul.
Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

Weeknight Ratatouille and Recipe Roundup

Weeknight ratatouille, wild rice and candy cap mushroom scones, Swiss chard potstickers and edamame succotash, pan-grilled tomato and feta salad with vinaigrette, and raw beet salad with pistachio mint pesto.