Wednesday Jan 17 2018
It’s 4AM. Most alarm clocks won’t even go off for another few hours, but Megan Hall is already hard at work, preparing cookies and bread and other delights for Naborhood Bakery at Gardner Village. Such is the early-bird life of a pastry chef, and Megan loves it.
“I bake from 4AM to 2PM every day,” Megan says. “We start with bread so the dough has enough time to rise. We get the cookies going next, and then it’s time for all other ‘daily pastries.’ Once all baking is underway, I end my day with production work—preparing dough, batter and more for the next day.”
If you’ve ever tasted any of the fresh-made baked goods at Naborhood Bakery, you know such time and attention come through in the delicious flavor of the food made. Yum!
WHERE CHEMISTRY MEETS COOKING
Megan was just 19 when she decided she wanted to pursue her sweet career path. “I loved chemistry, and I loved to bake,” Megan recalls. “A pastry chef seemed the perfect combination of these two interests.”
Nearly 10 years later, Megan continues to live her dream, with the last two of those years being Gardner Village’s Executive Pastry Chef.
A FAMILY AFFAIR
Megan grew up enjoying homemade meals every day. With such a delicious upbringing and her grandma’s career as a home economics teacher, you might say meal prep is in her DNA, but it’s her father who turned her onto baking.
“I learned the happiness of baking from my dad,” Megan beamed. “Every Sunday night, he set aside time to bake cookies with us. I loved it!.”
THE SWEETEST OF GIFTS
The family’s passion for fresh food translates to their gift giving. Megan’s grandma gave each of her 11 grandchildren a cookbook one year for Christmas. In it, she’s included the best of her family recipes. Each year, she gives the grandkids a new food section of the book, complete with the supplies needed to make the dishes in that section. For example, with the Cookies section, she gave cookie sheets, scoops and other baking must-haves. Isn’t that an awesome idea? It’s a gift that’s as personal as it is delicious!
FREE RECIPES (MEGAN'S FAVORITES!)
Megan shares her grandma's generous spirit. She has happily agreed to share her favorite family recipes with us! To save these, simply right click on each image and save the file to your computer or snap a screenshot from your smart device.
Q: What is your favorite treat to bake?
A: Macarons. They’re also the must frustrating, but I like the technical challenge they offer.
Q: What is your favorite treat to eat?
A: Macarons. They’re worth the work, because they taste so good. I also adore cream jumbles (recipe above). They’re like a soft snicker doodle. Cream jumble dough is the only cookie dough I’ll eat, and I can eat a dozen of these amazing cookies in a single sitting!
Q: What is the most popular pastry at Naborhood Bakery?
A: Brownies. People love a classic! Our raspberry cream cheese tart has really picked up in popularity lately as well.
Q: Do you have any kitchen horror stories to share?
A: Well, one time I was making salsa while wearing crocs. The HOT salsa spilled and I got second-degree burns and blisters wherever there were holes in my Crocs. The moral of this story: don’t cook while wearing footwear with holes in it. Ouch!
Q: Any wild kitchen tales to tell?
A: Like all chefs, I’ve turned a mixer on and flung batter everywhere a time or five. LOL
Q: What can we expect next from you?
A: Everybody loves a good focaccia bread. I have an amazing recipe I picked up from a chef when I first started work in this industry. We’re introducing it as the house artisan bread for Archibald’s Restaurant in place of sourdough. It’s pesto focaccia, and it’s delicious. You can also get it on our Chicken Pesto Sandwich at Naborhood Bakery. I hope you love it as much as I do!
Thank you, Megan. This look behind the baking is such fun! And you’re so kind to share your special family recipes. What a treat! Keep up the scrumptious work.
P.S. Megan is also happy to make special to-order treats. I asked her to make kitty-shaped macarons for my daughter’s birthday party. They were purrrfect—a definite party highpoint. To place your own orders, contact Naborhood Bakery at 801.566.8808.