Meet the 2019 Sweetest Bakery in America Contest Winners

Sweet Crunch Bakeshop, a food truck based in southern New Hampshire owned by Debbie Burritt (pictured at left), proves you don’t need bricks and mortar to win Dawn Foods’ Sweetest Bakery in America contest. And north of the border, Cory Dooher of Dooher’s Bakery in Campbellford, Ontario, Canada, is enjoying the satisfaction of consecutive wins. Both will receive the grand prize of marketing and public relations support from Dawn Foods and a trip to the Dawn Innovation Studio. The two recently spoke with Dawn Foods after winning the awards.

Debbie Burritt, Owner of Sweet Crunch Bakeshop

Batter Up: What’s your secret to success at Sweet Crunch Bakeshop?

Debbie Burritt: Perseverance. I have been in the food business pretty much my whole life, and I think one of the secrets is probably just customer service and putting out a good product. I don’t compromise. I don’t do it for the money, that’s for sure. I do it for the love, and I think that just shows in the end product. 

Batter Up: What makes you the Sweetest Bakery in America? 

Burritt: I’ve been around a long time. My background was as a fine dining chef, but I always baked on the side sort of as a hobby, and I think that shows that there’s more of a passion on that side. With my food truck, we’re everywhere, and we interact with our customers. If they’re eating cookies, we ask if we can take their pictures and post them on social media.

So we’ve gotten quite a following. And then as far as keeping customers, I have an online business, and all our customer service carries over to there. And we’ve been fortunate that when we get customers, we keep them a long time. They’re happy with the product. They’re happy with the business. And something about a food truck, when you get a warm cookie, that just makes people happy.

Batter Up: What does your community love most about your bakery?

Burritt: They like that it’s right there. We go to all the big events. And so I think one thing that the community starts to rely on is that if there’s some sort of outdoor event, chances are the Sweet Crunch truck is going to be there so they can get products. 

The other thing is just our reliability. We’ll do anything, no questions asked. It doesn’t matter what it is. It doesn’t have to just be a bakery product because we cater as well. I never say no. If it has to do with food, we say yes, and then we figure it out. And we’re always on time, and we always give the customer what they want.

Batter Up: What advice do you have for up-and-coming artisanal bakers?

Burritt: You know, it has to be a passion, and it has to be something that you just love to do because, unfortunately, in the food business in general, you don’t make a lot of money. It’s not something that I think gets the appreciation that it needs. It’s a lot of work. It’s an art, it’s a skill. It’s an exact science.

And I just think you have to stick with it because you love it, put out a good product, and in return you will get customers who are loyal to you.

Batter Up: Why did you want to be the Sweetest Bakery in America and what do you hope it will do for your business?

Burritt: Well, I think everybody likes to come in first place. Why not? And I’m competitive in nature. I think being the Sweetest Bakery in America, you have the bragging rights.

All this work that you’ve put in for years and years, there’s sort of some validation that what you’ve been doing is what you should be doing. The fact that we were able to win this, just coming from a small state, just being a food truck, just shows that I believe what we do, we do well, and we get people to follow us. 

I think as far as the business, it’s going to put it out there a little bit. And in my case, I had a retail shop and decided to let go of the retail to be able to do more events and be out with the public. One of the things we do a little bit differently is we bake right there on-site.

We do everything in the truck, so customers get that experience. They can smell the cookies. The cookies are warm when they get them. And I think it’ll spread the word that it doesn’t have to be a brick-and-mortar shop to put out a good quality product. 

Batter Up: How does this make you feel about Dawn Foods?

Burritt: It’s great that they are recognizing this art. They are global in the food industry, and I use Dawn Foods for items that really I cannot do in that truck. We’re known for our cookies that we do there, but we also do donuts. And I don’t have the ability to fry a donut, to do a fresh donut in there. 

And so that’s sort of been my relationship with Dawn Foods for years: using their high-quality premade products. They have donut shells, so we can make our own icings but use their donuts that taste fresh, taste like they were just fried.

 

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Owner Cory Dooher (front and center) and staff at Dooher's Bakery

 

Cory Dooher, owner of Dooher’s Bakery

Batter Up: Congratulations to you and Dooher’s Bakery for winning Sweetest Bakery in Canada for the second year in a row. What’s your secret to success?

Cory Dooher: It’s family run. My grandfather started the bakery, and last year we celebrated our 70th anniversary. It’s grown into something quite big. It’s actually kind of neat for me to think back to my conversations with grandpa when he was still here with us, and how he started in Madoc. It was just a little bakery with two wood burning ovens. And then my mom and dad took it over. And now it’s me and my son. 

There are no preservatives or anything like that in our product. People travel to get our product.

Batter Up: What makes you the sweetest bakery in Canada? 

Dooher: We’re definitely known for our donuts. That’s what people come for. We broke another record this summer and made over 7,000 donuts on one Saturday, and they were gone by 1 p.m.

Batter Up: How long does it take to make 7,000 donuts?

Dooher: We’ve got it down to a science. The doughs are mixed by hand, and then they’re cut by hand, and the donuts are dipped by hand, so it’s definitely a lot of work. Our first cut of donuts starts about 6 a.m. and then our last cut of donuts on a busy day we would probably do 11 a.m.-ish. 

On a busy day we would start by 2 in the morning. So it’s a bit of a process. We do our breads first thing in the morning, and then our buns, and then bagels, and then our donuts are kind of the last thing that we start.

Batter Up: What does your community love most about your bakery?

Dooher: I think the fact that it’s a family-run business and our donuts. That’s kind of our staple. It’s what we’re known for, so they come for that. But we make everything. We probably do 10 or 12 different loaves of bread. We have a variety of buns. We do bagels, we do Chelsea buns, we do all kinds of butter tarts. We’re quite known for our cookies. Oatmeal jam is probably our most popular one. We do squares. We do cakes. 

Batter Up: What advice do you have for up-and-coming artisanal bakers?

Dooher: It’s definitely hard, but my parents encouraged me to strive to do my best and reach for the stars. And it’s not an easy job. But it can be very rewarding, for sure. And I definitely had my grandparents and my dad set that bar for me and give me the good start and the direction and the encouragement that I needed.

And I just had this conversation with my staff last night because I took them out for dinner for all their hard work and us winning again, and Dooher’s would not be Dooher’s without them and without the continued support from everybody near and far who comes to buy our products. 

Batter Up: Why did you want to be the sweetest bakery in Canada, and what do you hope it will do for your business? Obviously you won it last year, but now you’ve got back-to-back wins.

Dooher: Because we had won it last year, we definitely were excited to do it again this year and have the title two years under our belt. It’s a pretty prestigious award to be able to do it two years in a row. It’s been a pretty incredible feeling for all of us.

It’s definitely put us on the map. We were busy before, but (after winning last year) we’ve had to hire more staff. We could go bigger, but I don’t know that that’s in my future. Possibly my son, he might take that on. 

But I would want to make sure that it stays family recipes, and I don’t want to turn it into a factory sort of setting. I mean, most of the recipes are my grandfather’s recipes that have been fine-tuned over the years. 

Batter Up: How does this make you feel about Dawn Foods?

Dooher: They’re great. We use a lot of Dawn’s products. Our donut flour is a product from them and so that would probably be the thing that we use the most. 

They were super excited and congratulating us, and were excited for us to win it again. So that was pretty cool to have their support and feel the excitement that they had for us to win it again. 

Read more about Dawn’s annual Sweetest Bakery in America and Sweetest Bakery in Canada contests. 

Photos courtesy of Sweet Crunch Bakeshop and Dooher’s Bakery