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Birchgrove Baking Offers Freshly Baked Treats In Downtown Montpelier

By Pamela Sosnowski

Most kids like to play with Play-Doh. For baker Jennifer Toce, however, she enjoyed playing with her grandmother's pie dough as a child.

"Whenever she made pies, she would hand me a small chunk of dough to play with," Toce recalled. "I would sit on the floor and roll it into a tough little disk hundreds of times over, until the dough was barely recognizable as a food product."

Flash forward to 2018, and Toce is still playing with dough, albeit shaping it to make pastries, cookies, tarts, and other treats. Toce is the owner and founder of Birchgrove Baking, the Montpelier bakery and cafe she and her co-owner John Belding opened in 2008. Open seven days a week, Birchgrove Baking also serves savory pastries and freshly brewed coffee in a light-filled, welcoming space on Elm Street.

"We like to think that it's a cozy, happy place," she said. "Our staff are very naturally friendly people and make everyone feel welcome, whether daily regulars or tourists traveling through."

Birchgrove Baking can also make custom cakes using all natural ingredients for weddings, birthdays, and other special occasions. Toce offers ten cake flavors such as carrot, lemon, and coconut, and several fillings to choose from including chocolate mousse, lemon curd, and cream cheese. Her talent has no bounds; Toce's cake portfolio features creations shaped as a bulldozer, Legos, and even a gingerbread house. Standard custom cakes are available in three sizes (8", 10", and 12" round), and require at least 72 hours of advance notice. All decorations are done by hand, which Toce says is not so common in bakeries anymore.

"Two of us do all of the cakes, and we do a *lot* of cakes," she said. "One of the decorators is also an artist and she does quite a bit of hand-painting for the cakes and we both do hand modeled figures."

Although the bakery and cafe is a relatively small space housing a few chairs and standing tables, a back deck expands the space in the summer, and overlooks the Winooski River as well as a waterfall.

Birchgrove Baking recently made up a holiday to help customers deal with the winter doldrums: Tropical Day. Held during the last weekend of January, the "holiday" featured fruity drinks, Thai iced coffee, and pastries made with tropical fruits, all served from a mini tiki hut, to help cheer customers up and have a little fun in the process.

As long as it keeps the customers coming in, Toce can keep playing with dough. To learn more about Birchgrove Baking and its menu, visit

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