By Lindsay Courcelle
Every Saturday, the Rutland Farmers Market boasts a wide range of vegetables, meats, and crafts, but a major draw for many customers are the baked goods. One of my go-to stands is 3 Bears Bakery.
Owned and run by the Konstant family—Claire, Andre, and their daughter Rachel—3 Bears Bakery has been in business since 2008. They bring their artisan baked goods to the market each week for their dedicated customer base. Their stand is chock full of variety, often with fifty different items for sale.
Claire was born and raised in England, with its history of fine baked goods, and Andre has traveled extensively in Europe. Living in a rural part of the US, they found it difficult to buy the type of baked goods they loved abroad, especially those made with high quality ingredients.
With some recipes that Claire had from England, the couple started baking themselves. At first, they used a bread machine to do all of their mixing and baking. Next, they let a machine mix the dough and then baked it in their oven. And finally, they plunged into the world of doing it all by hand.
Their baked items range from the more common muffins and baguettes to unique English and Scandinavian treats that are amazingly delicious. One bite of their Eccles cake, and 3 Bears Bakery will become one of your regular visits at the farmers market. This flaky, buttery pastry is filled with currants, cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar, and orange rind. I hesitate to mention it because I know that I will now need to arrive even earlier to get one before this fan favorite sells out.
The Eccles cake is not the only delicacy that I recommend. Their breads are 100% fully fermented for a minimum of 13 hours before baking, meaning that they use less yeast. This gives the bread a delicious flavor while also allowing for more enzymatic activity, making it easier for our stomachs to digest. Bread varieties include an Icelandic multigrain with organic grains and seeds, Italian baguettes, and German Farmer’s Bread. Their breads are made entirely by hand, as are almost everything that they sell. Andre and Claire say that they can get a better feel by hand than with mechanical help. “God gave us hands that we might use them and know the world better than with machines,” they say wisely.
The shortbreads are also noteworthy, made with Kate’s of Maine butter, which is guaranteed to be free of artificial growth hormones. The shortbreads are small, satisfying, and they come in many varieties, including my favorite, Shrewsbury Shortbread, with currants. None of their cookies are overly sweet, and all of their products are made with top quality ingredients, like GMO-free cane sugar, organic grains, and pure butter.
Traditional English scones are another staple. The texture, flavor, and size of the scones are perfect. It’s not uncommon for one of their English customers to comment, “These are the best I’ve had this side of the Pond.”
Lastly, their pastries and cakes with fresh fruit and cream are a unique market find. Claire and Andre could never understand why it was so hard to find fresh cream and berries in a baked good in the states. Their only guess is that these pastries don’t keep very well, and so the bakeries probably don’t want to take the risk of spoilage. But since their sales are at the farmers market, Claire and Andre are willing to take the risk. Their customers are very glad for that!
You can find 3 Bears Bakery at the Rutland Summer and Winter Farmers Markets every Saturday and most Wednesdays. Their shortbreads are available at Kamuda’s Market in Pittsford and the Middlebury Natural Foods Co-op. They have also partnered with Radical Roots Farm and Duchess Farm to make their breads and sweets available as an add-on to these farms’ CSA programs.
Like the tale of Goldilocks and the three bears, you will find that 3 Bears Bakery is “just right” to satisfy your taste buds when it comes to artisan breads and baked goods.
Lindsay and her husband Scott own Alchemy Gardens, a vegetable farm business in Shrewsbury. Learn more at www.AlchemyGardensVT.com