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Thriving bakeries sweeten the West Branch

Aimee Hertwig, owner of Sprinkled Sweet talks with a customer as she makes change at her store in downtown Williamsport February 4, 2021. Hertwig opened hershop in April of 2015. DAVE KENNEDY/West Branch Life

“Life is short. Eat dessert first.”

– Jacques Torres

The word bakery conjures up images of confectionery perfectionary. Sparkling with sugar, shining with glaze, frosted with satiny chocolate, infused with creamy vanilla, peanut butter, Bavarian and fruit fillings. Is your sweet tooth awake yet? Sprinkled Sweet in Williamsport and Catherman’s Bakery in Lewisburg are just two of several bakeries in the West Branch area that offer sugary delights.

Sprinkled Sweet Bakery is tucked into the Pine Square Courtyard at 349 Pine Street, Suite 4. It is owned and operated by Aimee Hertwig, who began her sweet endeavor in 2015, on April 22, which is, by the way, the eve of Shakespeare’s birthday. Hertwig mentions that it’s been rumored that the bard had quite a sweet forsooth, er, sweet tooth, himself. His seventeenth-century cravings were surely met, as signs of advanced baking skills–think Gooseberry Fool, a cream pudding served with shortbread, or Warden (pear) pie–have been traced back to the thirteenth century.

Thankfully, Hertwig became a shopkeeper in this century after graduating from the Culinary Institute of America in New York and earning her bachelor’s degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management. Returning to the area in 2012, Hertwig was managing the Brickyard Restaurant in 2015 when a vacant spot opened in Pine Square. “I jumped on it, and opened Sprinkled Sweet,” Hertwig said, “and honestly, I have loved every minute of it.”

Hahley Stanton, grand daughter of the owners of Catherman's Bakery, talks with customers at the Lewisburg Farmer's Market at the bakery's stand at the market Jan. 27, 2020. The bakery originally opened in the 1940's and was bought by Robert and Brenda Engle in 2006. DAVE KENNEDY/West Branch Life

With the help of six employees, all baking is done in-house. “I am proud to say I’m a small business owner,” said Hertwig. She quickly adds that she’s also proud that she has the help of her mother. “It’s been such a pleasure baking with my mom. She is the one who got me into baking at such a young age. I baked my first three-tier wedding cake in eighth grade. Mom has brought many new ideas to the bakery, including the kid-popular old-fashioned candy lollipops,” Hertwig enthused.

Sprinkled Sweet offers desserts galore, from customer-favorite cheesecakes and cannolis to brownies, cookie sandwiches, cakes, French macaroons, mom’s cake pops, special features and more. “Occasionally, we have cream puffs and eclairs,” Hertwig offered, “and I could never forget to mention our in-house homemade hard ice cream, 16 flavors! Salted caramel crunch and cannoli chip are customer favorites and we offer cake cones and homemade waffle cones,” she added.

For special occasions, Sprinkled Sweet offers its made-to-order specialty cakes and dessert trays. Though summer is their busiest time, the holidays also keep them bustling with sales and special orders.

“During the difficult times of the pandemic, everyone has been so patient and shown up to keep us in business. I’m so grateful,” said Hertwig. A walk-up window for ordering has allowed for social distancing.

When questioned about a possible secret to her delicious pastry and patisserie, Hertwig answered, “I could never tell! But I will always say baking fresh and having a lot of buttercream icing on hand is a plus.”

A vintage mold for making chocolate bunnies hangs on the wall as a decoration at Catherman's Bakery in Lewisburg Jan. 27, 2020. The bakery originally opened in the 1940's and was bought by Robert and Brenda Engle in 2006. DAVE KENNEDY/West Branch Life

If you’re in the mood for something comforting and fresh, something that hints of home, homemade bread may be just what you’re looking for. The earliest evidence of bread-making dates back to 8000 B.C, in Egypt, where we assume bread crumbs were found. It seems the first kind of breads were what is now known as chapatis or tortillas.

Thirty miles down the road–from Williamsport, not Egypt–the wonderful aroma of fresh baking bread leads to Catherman’s Bakery at 209 Front Street in Lewisburg. Add a waft of biscotti, cakes, candy, eclairs and a myriad of other pastries and your nose will lead you to indulge in all those fresh-baked goods.

Robert (Bob) and Brenda Engle purchased Catherman’s Candy business 14 years ago. “Catherman’s had been in the homemade candy business since the 1940’s. So adding a bakery seemed a natural fit,” said Robert. Armed with their famous candy recipes and abundant baking ideas, they opened their own version of Catherman’s in 2006. According to Brenda, “Bob always had an entrepreneurial spirit and when he went to pastry school, he had a dream of one day owning a pastry shop.” He attended The Restaurant School in Philadelphia and worked at bakeries in and out of the area before purchasing Catherman’s and bringing his dream to life.

All baking is done in-house. Though the hours can be long for the Engles and their two employees, Brenda remarked that “it’s worth it when we see those happy expressions on customers’ faces and hear their positive comments. Bob said that he loves what he does, and added, “I think that’s the secret of baking and anything you do. You’ve got to love it. It has to come from the heart.”

Customers have been quoted in reviews calling Catherman’s “a local treasure,” and making “the best carrot cake,” and “the most wonderful chocolate.”

A variety of baked goods are on display at Catherman's Bakery in Lewisburg Jan. 27, 2020. The bakery originally opened in the 1940's and was bought by Robert and Brenda Engle in 2006. DAVE KENNEDY/West Branch Life

In season, The Farmers’ Market in Lewisburg is a favorite offsite venue for Catherman’s Bakery on Wednesdays. The bakery is also sometimes referred to as Catherman’s Candies and Bakery, if you’re doing some research on your own. Along with what’s regularly offered on Front Street and at the Farmer’s Market, Catherman’s is always eager to make cakes for your special occasions, your Just-because-I-want-a-cake days, your wedding, holidays and any day that means something special to you.

If you make a visit to Catherman’s Bakery, Sprinkled Sweet or any of the bakeries in between, you may leave with a bit of sugar on your teeth, but there will be a lot of pleasure in your smile.

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