Leap of faith results in successful bakery

Published 9:44 pm Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Another happy customer! Rachel Midgette delivers baked goods from her tent at Saturday Market in downtown Washington. Midgette started Rachel K’s Bakery three years ago. (WDN Photo/Christ Prokos)

The aroma of fresh-baked breads and pastries wafting draws customers to a table laden with the results of Rachel Kathleen Midgette’s past 24 hours beside her ovens.

Flaky, chocolate-filled croissants; crumbly cinnamon crumb cake and crunchy baguettes; hearty boules of rye and whole grain; plump loaves of woven challah; onion-filled bialys; giant, gooey sticky buns and caramel-topped kringles tempt all passersby.

This is Rachel K’s Bakery at Saturday Market in downtown Washington, a business Midgette started three years ago with a little bit of savings, a huge leap of faith and a lot of support from her family.

“I’ve always had it in my head that some day I wanted a little bakery. I thought it might be cakes, but I played around with that and found I wasn’t detail-oriented. So, I started baking bread for my family.

Then I thought: ‘Life’s too short; if I don’t do it now, I’ll never do it,’” Midgette said.

Spending more time with her four young sons was another major impetus to make the change and work at home, said Midgette.

And so she did, leaving her job as chief financial officer for the Beaufort County Committee of 100 and setting up her home kitchen as her new bake shop.

Now, from April through October, Midgette spends Fridays — day and night — in full-production mode, going through 150 pounds of flour and creating about 50 loaves of bread and more than 100 tasty pastries for every Saturday Market.

Even with only a few hours sleep, Midgette greets her customers with a big smile and cheerful, friendly demeanor. The interaction with market-goers is a favorite result of her baking business.

“I really get a lot of joy from seeing the people that buy my bread. Meeting them, talking with them, hearing their feedback,” she said.

Her customers get a lot of joy from her products.

“Her stuff is so high quality and very consistent each week. The croissants are out of this world. It’s nice to have a bakery doing more high-end European-style breads and pastries,” said Ginger Gardiner as she munched on one of Midgette’s delicacies.

A few weekly favorites include the challah, a slightly sweet and eggy Jewish bread that is Midgette’s signature product, and the cinnamon crumb cakes.

“The crumb cakes are out of this world,” said John O’Neill as he cradled a large paper bag full of them in his arm. “Anything Rachel does is phenomenal.”

The fact that some customers come very early every morning to ensure they get the goods they want and that Midgette goes home empty-handed each Saturday attests to that.

Midgette’s dream is to open a small bakery in downtown Washington one day, but there are many obstacles.

“I am hoping to expand eventually. It’s a big step though. And when would I see my kids?”

For now, folks can find Midgette’s baked goods at Saturday Market, The General’s Store on Main Street and The Blue Door Café on Water Street in Washington, and at Bath General Store & Market on Carteret Street in Bath. This summer, Midgette will be selling goods at the Wednesday Umbrella Market in Greenville.