The Able Baker
187 Maplewood Ave., Maplewood NJ 07040
Miles from La Colombe: 85
What does “Able Baker” mean to you? Whether it’s the mouse from Richard Scarry’s children’s series, the first two monkey’s in space, or the first three letters of the military phonetic alphabet “Able, Baker, Charlie,” the name resonates with almost everyone. Julie Pauly’s love for baking started when she was only 16, but it wasn’t until 2009 that she turned her passion into a profession. Her son Declan actually coined the name when he was only 4, referring to his mother as “Able Baker Julie,” recognizing her passion even at a young age. The business began out of frustration when both Julie and her husband Thomas were laid off from their full-time jobs and Julie began selling baked goods online. When demand grew in 2011, she opened a storefront on 187 Maplewood Ave., in her hometown of Maplewood, NJ – right by Baker St.
The store phone rings constantly, and yes, it is this rotary phone. The decor features other vintage and antique decor, including a Vietnamese coffee maker and restored window frames used as chalkboards. Since they’ve opened the store, business has boomed, and Julie has diversified her menu. She calls it “simple, American fair,” meaning delicious treats such as her custom cookies, custome cakes, banana breads, scones, crumb cake and other traditional and modern American pastries along with a few gluten-free options. She knew that by selling great pastries, she’d also have to find great coffee to accompany them, and that’s where we came in. Thomas runs the La Marzocco machine as their barista, and they were pleasantly surprised at the amount of villagers who demanded good coffee in her area.
Holidays drive a lot of her inspiration for baked goods, and they try to stick with the seasons when it comes to fruits to keep everything local and fresh. “For St. Patrick’s Day this year, we tried a Guinness stoudt chocolate cake and for passover we did a strawberry tart.” They use organic eggs and organic dairy products from Lancaster, PA. “That’s so essential for the espresso drinks. If it’s not good milk, it’s not a good drink.” Julie takes her coffee with cream, really good organic heavy cream. She likes to pair her coffee with espresso shortbread dipped in chocolate. “Yeah, so I get a double shot of caffeine. That I love, but I would fall for a scone before I would fall for a cupcake.”
Another place Julie finds inspiration is in the kitchen. You can find professionally trained pastry chefs, pie bakers and even local musicians back there that spring all kinds of new ideas. Ellen is a former pastry chef and restaurant owner, but she resides as the resident pie baker. Also pictured is Rita, who is a trained pastry chef, and she had her own high-end cake decorating business. She’s really elaborate, and also lives in town.
They found Maggie, a local musician, while walking their dogs in town. She’s in a band called Hannah and Maggie.
Everyone employed in her bakery is local, and most of her customers are, too. Julie and her husband with their two children live only a few blocks away, so they are able to walk to work. Both their children, Ella and Declan, are in school, but you can find them at the Able Baker for an after-school snack and to help mom and dad with the bakery. Maplewood is only half an hour from Manhattan by train, and it’s definitely worth a visit on a sunny Sunday.