I learned three things writing this post. First, lard makes baked goods taste delicious. (Sorry, vegetarians and squeamish people that are weirded out by animal fat, but it’s really true.)
Second, people will flock to buy cakes, pies, breads and other goodies that old fashioned bakers like the folks at the The Baker’s Wagon make. This means that every single time I saw them at a farmers market or event, they were swamped and I never got to ask them where they’ll be next.
This was a mistake. I should have asked.
Tracking down interview subjects isn’t usually hard for me, but — and this is the third and most frustrating lesson — when the subjects are Amish, things get a little tricky. That’s why this post on the Baker’s Wagon is a few years in the making.
I first came across the tasty treats from these bakers from Fertile, Minnesota on the shores of South Twin Lake in Naytahwaush, Minnesota. I tried a few of their trademark fried pies, but my favorite thing was a delicious Whoopie Pie.
This is a Pennsylvania Amish classic and a New England standby, creamy frosting sandwiched between two cake-like cookies for maximum goodness. I was smitten.
I immediately wanted more. But this was one of their last stops that summer. I never realized how often I check Facebook pages and websites for research and contact info until that option wasn’t available to me.
I guess I could have sent a a letter or done the reporter thing and tracked them down. In a small town like Fertile, all you really have to do is ask. A camp friend once wrote my first name and zip code on a letter and mailed it to my tiny Minnesota town of 300 people. The postmistress didn’t blink an eye.
This simple, ballsy approach works in person too. And it works in small towns all over the world. I once found my friend’s engagement party by stopping at the only bar in her mom’s ancestral village and asking where Pablo lived. Which Pablo? Didn’t matter. Everybody knew I was there for the party. They even walked me there.
But all that seemed oddly formal. And even though this totally was a quest for baked goods, I wasn’t quite ready to actually call it that yet. (I’m at peace with my strange passions, but sometimes it’s little awkward to call them out!) So I made peace with waiting to stumble across the Baker’s Wagon again.
I finally did. But it took a few years.
I noticed the familiar wagon at the last Red River Market of the 2016 season. You can read my story about the overall vibe of the market, one of my favorites in the Upper Midwest, here if you haven’t already. It’s a great summer event. And I’m happy to report that, in 2017 at least, it’ll be getting even better, since you can find The Baker’s Wagon there every Saturday from July – October.
In addition to their pies (the lard really does make the pie crusts especially yummy), The Baker’s Wagon also sells cookies, donuts, breads, pickles, jams and other products. Everything is handmade. I think fresh bread and some strawberry jam might the the next thing on my shopping list.
The Baker’s Wagon also makes appearances at other farmers market throughout the region, so if you know where else to find these folks this summer, please tell us about it in the comments below. I think I’ve already proven I’m a little useless on this front.
Just remember, as I learned the hard way, you can’t depend on technology for this one. You’re going to have to do the old-fashioned thing and just ask.
The Baker’s Wagon
Is this a real address? I don’t know. That’s what it says on the label, so I’m going with it.
I guess we can always reach out like my camp friend did and cross our fingers.
What about you?
What’s your favorite farmers market?
What elements are necessary for a good farmers market, in your opinion?
Have you ever craved something that you couldn’t find again? What was it?
What do you like to buy at farmers markets?
What have you ordered from The Baker’s Wagon?
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