Thursday, March 30, 2023

Baked In Romance for Valentine’s Day

By: Jaylin R. Smith

Journalism Graduate Student

The love story of the Bottletree Bakery is best told by Cynthia Gerlach, the owner and lead baker of the Oxford institution. Opening its doors on January 31, 1995, the bakery filled a void in the Oxford community as a one-stop shop for freshly baked bread, sandwiches and coffee. 

Cynthia Gerlach says the best pastries are baked with love. Photy by Jaylin R. Smith.

“At that point in time in Oxford, there was no great deli sandwich. There wasn’t a bakery that had fresh baked bread or bagels or croissants, and there certainly wasn’t a good cup of coffee,” says Gerlach. Now, a seemingly permanent fixture on Van Buren Avenue, Bottletree Bakery offers an alternative to the traditional Valentine’s sweet treat of chocolate.

From heart-sprinkled cream puffs to bouquet-inspired cupcakes, Gerlach says they all share a common ingredient that’s appropriate for this annual celebration of romance.

“Well, first it’s gotta be made with love,” says Gerlach.

Pastries are made on site. Photo by Jaylin R. Smith.

And according to Gerlach, Bottletree sees a regular stream of people coming in on dates.

“All the time. I’ve seen many people meet at the bakery, get married, have an engagement party at the bakery. Then, I’ve done their wedding cakes,” she says.

Even though the usual menu for Valentine’s Day consists of chocolate-dipped strawberries or fancy boxes of chocolate, Gerlach knows that great pastry has inspired a lot of passion over the years.

The bakery is only open Thursday through Sunday, though, so you’ll have to plan ahead for next year.

Photo by Jaylin R. Smith