Side Dishes: New Vermonter bakes up a storm
Last year, as Jen Smith of California and her husband traveled around New Zealand, she was surprised to find herself whipping up pastries wherever she went. “We were staying with a lot of different people, and I was baking because it was a good way of exchanging hospitality,” says Smith, 26, who had previously worked as a pastry chef.
The constant cookery gave her the idea of starting a baking business that could pop up wherever it might come in handy — say, at a festival or farmers market. She dubbed her concept The Nomadic Oven.
When the couple returned to the United States, they decided to settle in Burlington.
Once here, Smith got a part-time job at Cloud 9 Caterers that allowed her to bring The Nomadic Oven to life in her spare time. Last summer she sold her seasonal treats at the Old and New North End farmers markets. “People were really excited about the baked goods,” she recalls.
Now Smith peddles her wares, such as flaky cranberry-walnut galettes, cornmeal almond biscotti and Russian teacakes, at the indoor Burlington winter market, which happens monthly at Memorial Auditorium. “I do a lot of flaky pastries, because that’s what I love,” Smith says. Every baking day “begins with a trip to City Market to see what’s local and seasonal.”
Although Smith always has a variety of treats at her booth, customers who know exactly what they want can place special orders and pick them up at the market. Right now, Smith’s focus is on Christmas treats. On her website, handmade caramels and Middle Eastern confections such as stuffed dates and apricot balls are billed as “Sweet Stocking Stuffers.” Other holiday desserts include a Pumpkin Tart and a dense Fresh Ginger Cake.
Can’t find what you’re looking for? If you dream up a sweet, Smith will make it.