Afternoon Tea: A Bakery Story

If you know me personally, you know that my mom and aunt make some of the best desserts around. And when people find out after the fact that they co-owned a bakery in Miami, it’s never a surprise. People are usually surprised to find out that they were held up a couple of times and even shot at. No joke. This isn’t safe small-town living. This is Miami. This shit is real.

But I digress.

While the bakery may no longer be around their recipes are (2 dozen blueberry pound cakes anyone?), and they just launched their first cookbook, From the Bakery of Afternoon Tea: Book of Pies for Amazon Kindle. And if that wasn’t enough, they’ve started a new blog as well: http://afternoonteabakery.blogspot.com/.

Afternoon Tea, Miam FL. circa 1987.
Afternoon Tea, Miami FL. circa 1987.

Afternoon Tea was clearly a labour of love. They spent long nights at the bakery, particularly over the holidays. They prided themselves on real ingredients (butter, milk, eggs), and refused to engage in any shortcuts that so many bakeries indulge in.

I think they tell the story best {excerpt, From the Bakery of Afternoon Tea: Book of Pies}:

In 1986, two sisters started their own bakery, featuring classic home-baked pies, cakes, cookies and treats. The name of the bakery was Afternoon Tea, and the place was Miami, Florida.

We did not have any experience or professional training in the food industry whatsoever, nor any knowledge of running a bakery. We were simply two young women who loved to bake from scratch using wholesome and natural ingredients, and people seemed to like what we made. A lot. So, we thought we’d give it a shot.

With a wish and a prayer, we opened our doors with our home-baked goods timidly displayed in our counters, and held our breath. Literally within days, we developed a bit of a cult following, as other home-bakers soon discovered us and started spreading the word: “If you want a home-baked cake or pie as good as your own, go to Afternoon Tea!”

People would literally bring us their own pie plates and ask us to bake our recipes in them, so they could tell their guests that they made it themselves. (It’s still our little secret between friends!) There was at least one customer who had forgotten she ordered an apple pie, and told her minister she had spent all day making a peach pie. Whoops!

Only months after opening, Ada was reviewing the order book—taking a tally of how many of each pie, how many cakes, how many dinner rolls and other treats had been ordered for our first Thanksgiving—and she panicked! With the count in hand, she ran back into the kitchen and said, “Ana, do you know how many orders we have for Thanksgiving? We have so many, I don’t think we’ll be able to make it all! We have to stop taking orders immediately! We need to lock our doors, stop answering the phone, and start prepping right now!”

We didn’t exactly do that, but we have to admit that our first Thanksgiving was a little rough. We had tons of orders, only a couple of employees, and the first real test of our business. Ada ran the front of the house, and Ana ran the kitchen, which meant that she pretty much baked every single thing that went out the door herself. We had a line of people on that Wednesday that stretched all the way around the block, picking up their orders for the big day. Our neighbors in the shopping center could barely believe their eyes, and there were a few folks who had gotten into line “just to see what was going on.” They picked up a pie or two themselves, of course, once they were inside the store! (Thanksgiving is all about pies!)

That’s how it all began, and decades later, it is still our legacy. Afternoon Tea was more than just a bakery, it was a gathering place for friends, a fan club, a place to trade recipes, and it was the dream of many home bakers just like ourselves. We hope you enjoy our pies as much as our customers did, and that these recipes become part of your legacy, as well.

From the Bakery of Afternoon Tea: Book of Pies; available on Amazon Kindle
Available on Amazon Kindle

The Book of Pies is the first published book from Afternoon Tea, and it is certainly not the last! We’ve got 2 more books lined up for 2013, and I can’t wait to share the details with you soon.

My aunt is also managing the new Afternoon Tea Bakery blog–be sure to check it out!

 

 

 

 

 

  • Leslie

    It’s funny, I worked there like 24 years ago. I, too, have moved from the craziness of south FL, but I still remember how delicious their treats were. I couldn’t remember the name of the bakery for like a week and then it finally came to me and I looked it up on the internet. I’m inspired to open a similar place in my town and hope that I can. I saw your aunt’s blog and told her. It is a sweet memory of a sweet place. =)

  • Dave

    So why did the bakery close down? Seems to me they had a good thing going

    • Natalie

      It was sold! Then they made the 2,000-mile move to a smaller town with cleaner air and safer neighborhoods. :)

  • ohhhh, how I wish Afternoon Tea was STILL here in Miami! I am on the hunt for a good bakery … I found a pretty good one (Acme Bakery), but it is not very close to where I live…