The Sea Cliff Farmer’s Market has not yet officially opened for the day but customers are already lining up at the Heritage Bakers booth. The enticing aroma of fresh baked goods permeates the tent.
“You can smell the goodness,” a customer comments rapturously.
Sea Cliff resident David Shalam turned a passion for baking into a second career, and his whole family helps out with Heritage Bakers. His young son Daniel works the cash box, and daughter Sadie bags sweet and savory scones and multi-grain bread for customers. His wife Debbie chats with market regulars and fills large wicker baskets to overflowing with treats baked by David at a professional kitchen in Calverton, and then transported to Sea Cliff for the start of the Saturday morning market. It’s a family enterprise from sunrise to sunset.
David has an affinity for traditional recipes. At the center of the display table, golden, perfectly plump, eggy popovers are piled high. The popover is a simple “quick bread” batter recipe, an American cousin to the English Yorkshire pudding. Pour the batter into individual cups and place in a hot oven, and the batter literally “pops” as it rises.
Pitching in is a Shalam family tradition – as are popovers – and David is fascinated how a simple combination of flour, salt, eggs and milk is miraculously transformed.
“My mom asked me to make popovers for Thanksgiving to help out, and it became my annual contribution to the holiday,” says David. “I enjoyed the process and thought it was really cool how when you put them in the oven, they are nothing in the cups, but when you pull them out they are this big bulbous shape.”
Popovers quickly became a signature item for his baking startup, which began three years ago selling at farmer’s markets and local retail stores. Heritage Bakers offers heirloom-style recipes from popovers and breads to chocolate chip cookies and hearty breakfast scones. A number of recipes use Red Fife Whole Wheat flour, a traditional grain propagated in the nineteen century that is enjoying a revival.
David has experimented with a variety of naked popovers and sweet and savory variations, but learned that popovers sprinkled with cinnamon sugar are a real crowd pleaser. Perhaps the satisfying treat evokes the essence of Mom’s cinnamon sugar toast. His cinnamon sugar popovers give new meaning to the phrase “rise and shine.” Light and airy inside, with a delicate crust – the shimmering bronze dusting of cinnamon sugar melts into the custardy layers, serving up sweet flavors of comfort and security.
Heritage Bakers homespun goods are available Saturdays through autumn at the Sea Cliff Farmers Market on the property of Saint Luke’s Church at the intersection of Glen Avenue and Roslyn Avenue, and through other local markets and retailers.