Gerry Newman and his wife Millie Carson started Albemarle Baking Company in 1995 and their goal was to be the best bakers possible. “We don’t try to be the best bakery in town, and even if we did, it isn’t our place to decide that. That belongs to the customer.” Simple bread sticks on the counter might bring childhood memories to most of us, and wait to try their award-winning breads and cakes.
The fun Princess Cake (vanilla sponge, Bavarian cream and thin layer of marzipan) is a Swedish recipe with smooth almond taste and delicious cream topped with a delicate sugar rose. Another flagship house specialty is the Chocolate Praline Crunch (cacao sponge, praline crunch layer, dark chocolate mouse, glazed with dark chocolate ganache), a refined chocolate party with surprising textures. And there are many more.
In fact ABC is one of our favorite shops in town because their products are great and they are not pretentious at all. The key for them is to use the best ingredients and treat them with respect by avoiding artificial additives. Furthermore Newman, a Portland native, is not an ordinary baker but a European inspired American baker. Meaning more balanced flavors, smaller portions and less sugar than American pastry, often very intense.
After visiting Switzerland, Germany, and France, he learnt from a Swiss master in California in 1981. “Pastry is like science with precise ingredients, amounts and results while bread is more flexible and organic, and you might need to compensate the air humidity or whatever conditions and it requires you to be patient…,” he explains sitting at the coffee tables in the bakery.
Their artisan breads made in the Belmont neighborhood are found on the tables of many of the best eateries in Charlottesville. “I am a very lucky man. I get up every morning and go to a place where I get to do something I would do for free. I love being a baker, and I hope my coworkers do as well”.
Phone: (434) 293-6456
Hours: Mon-Fri 7 a.m. – 6 p.m., Sat 7 a.m. – 5 p.m., Sun 8 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Text and photo: Edu Bayer