Kauffman's Country Bakery is a well known and visited spot for the people of Mt. Hope, Ohio and tourists alike. The sense of community blends with the warm smells of homemade goods inviting everyone to linger in the cafe and aisles.
Freshly made items lining the shelves and counter windows cause the mouth to water and the mind to wander back to a distant childhood memory. Items such as jams, jellies, spreads, and a few bulk food items that have not been baked in house are sourced locally as are most of the ingredients.
The history of Kauffman's Country Bakery began in Spring of 1992, when brothers Steve and Richard Kauffman opened their doors. At the time they only boasted six employees, one mixer and an oven, today they employ 20 to 25 people.
Recipes have evolved throughout the years, but those passed down from the Kauffman brother's grandma Lili, their mother and those Steve has concocted or manipulated remain prevalent.
A typical day for the staff of Kauffman's Country Bakery can mean baking around 250 loaves of bread, 100 cookies and more than 100 pies for tourists and locals alike. All staff member take on different tasks to make the delicious treats for the continued stream of customers.
The holiday season comes early at Kauffman's Country Bakery. Halloween used to be the beginning of the holiday preparations, but with the rise in demand, the bakery begins to make fruitcakes, breads and cookies in September. Although October is still the busiest month in an average year. Typically the bakery makes anywhere from 500 -- 1,000 loaves of bread and more than 1,000 fruitcakes during the holiday season.
Despite popular belief, the fruitcake is one of the goods in the highest demand; "Usually, if I can get someone to try it, they like [the fruitcake]. It isn't like other fruitcakes." said Richard. The bakery bakes around 500 different types of fruitcake, including their signature German Stollen Bread, made only with authentic ingredients, imported from Germany.
"The Stollen Bread has become so popular we make it all year round," said Richard. The fruitcakes as a whole have become so popular that the line up has been joined by other products made from the same batter, including cupcakes and Chocolate Chewy Bars. Consisting of the Fruitcake batter covered in chocolate and cut into bars, the Chocolate Chewy Bars are quickly rising in popularity.
Along with the holiday specialty items, Kauffman's Country Bakery offers a variety of daily treats. Cool down the warm summer months with 16 flavors of hand-dipped ice cream, a fresh fruit smoothie, old fashioned milkshakes and iced coffee. Several different types of bread line the shelves while freshly made pastries, cream sticks, pies, apple fritters and fry pies fill the counter windows. All the items attract people from far and wide and encourage a return visit.
Amish Country novelty items and souvenirs are also available for long lasting memories. Pick up souvenir magnets, key chains and travel mugs or bring home a T-shirt, sweatshirt or small model horse and buggy.
Written by KATE MINNICH Amish Heartland writer