Food & Drink

Slice of Life

Fenwick Bakery is the quintessential neighborhood bakery.

Back in the day, old-time Baltimore bakeries were a dime a dozen. Every neighborhood had at least one. But along with streetcars and milk deliveries, they faded from public life in the latter half of the 20th century as consumers traded daily trips to mom-and-pop businesses for one-stop shopping at supermarkets. 

Happily, if you look in some of the less gentrified corners of the city, you can still find enduring examples. With its linoleum floors, baskets of breads behind the counter, and packages tied up with red and white bakery twine, Fenwick Bakery, located along Harford Road in Northeast Baltimore, is one such sweet spot.

The bakery originated when Swiss immigrant Ernest Uebersax and his wife, Alvena Buttner, opened a bakeshop in southwest Baltimore in 1913. In the ensuing decades, the bakery hopscotched around town before settling in its current location in 1971, by then with three of Ernest and Alvena’s five children at the helm. In the mid-’90s, when that second generation was ready to retire, the bakery was sold to longtime employees Al Meckel and Claudette Wilson, who still run it today using the original recipes.

Featuring cakes, pies, donuts, Danishes, breads, rolls, and cookies, the shop’s offerings are unfussy but plentiful. Most items—like the fruit-filled pastries and glazed donuts that glisten under the display case lights—are baked daily. (If you want to be the hero of your office coffee break, head in early to snag a tray of gooey pecan rolls.) Small batches of white breads and rolls are also produced daily, while the popular raisin bread and the traditional rye loaves are baked on Wednesdays and Fridays, respectively. But anything can be made to order, including decorated special-occasion cakes in varying shapes (round, sheet, tiered), sizes (cupcake-small, sheet cake-large), and flavors (carrot, devil’s food, and chocolate, among others).

It’s a pity that Fenwick’s signature peach cake—fat, juicy, local peaches nestled on a shallow tart-like crust and burnished with brown sugar—is available only in summer. But its fleetingness just makes it more precious. Mark your calendars for next year.

In the meantime, sate your sweet tooth with Fenwick’s pies, which are another highlight. A lattice-topped cherry pie oozed enough pleasantly tart cherries to qualify as a guilt-be-gone serving of fruit. And Fenwick does a brisk business in apple, apple crumb, pumpkin, pecan, and mince pies during the holidays. Also of note for harried holiday hosts and hostesses, Fenwick sells its own stuffing mixes in one-pound bags, as well as unbaked pie shells. Because if it can’t be homemade, at least it can be hometown made. Don’t worry, we won’t tell.

›› Fenwick Bakery 7219 Harford Rd. 410-444-6410, Mon.-Fri. 7 a.m.-5 p.m., Sat. 7 a.m.-4 p.m., Closed Sun.