In the kitchen with: Chef Andrew Swartz

In the kitchen with: Chef Andrew Swartz

Pastry shop gets sweeter during the holidays

By Andrew Carter

Chef Andrew Swartz fills freshly made cream puffs at his shop Andrew’s Pastries in Marion. Swartz has owned the bakery located at 1282 Delaware Ave. in Marion since Dec. 7, 1995.

Filled and powdered with fine sugar, these cream puffs made at Andrew’s Pastries in Marion are ready to be sold to hungry customers.

Cookies with a cherry filling are just waiting for someone to eat them.

Colorful sprinkles top these cookies at Andrew’s Pastries in Marion.

Andrew Swartz calls his bakery in Marion “a dinosaur” because customers can walk in and watch him make doughnuts, cookies, cakes, pies and other items. Swartz stands next to a stack of his signature pink pastry boxes, as well as some of the sweets he makes in his store.

It’s the time of the year when jolly old Saint Nick is checking his list twice to find out who’s been naughty or nice.

Chef Andrew Swartz says, “Forget the list. Have some springerle.”

The owner and head chef of Andrew’s Pastries in Marion, Swartz has been tantalizing taste buds in central Ohio for more than 20 years at his old-fashioned bakery. It’s located at 1282 Delaware Ave. on the south side of Marion.

Early morning at Andrew’s Pastries — it opens at 6 a.m. Monday through Saturday — is the culinary equivalent of a spiritual experience as the heavenly aroma of freshly baked doughnuts, fritters, cinnamon rolls and other decadent delicacies fills the shop and even wafts out into the parking lot. And folks roll in, lured by the sultry scent and the promise of satisfying their desire for sweets.

The secret, which really isn’t much of a secret since Swartz lists them on the shop’s website, is in the ingredients. He uses the “finest American and European ingredients: Imported Belgium chocolate, sweet cream butter, fresh whipped cream, and real vanilla are just our basics for many intricate recipes.”

Are you hungry yet?

You might want to wipe the corner of your mouth. There, you got it.

Swartz opened the shop on Dec. 7, 1995, at the height of the holiday sweets rush. To his surprise, one of the most requested items was an old European cookie that he said is still popular with many folks of German ancestry in central Ohio.

“When I was in culinary school in Hyde Park, New York, we made a lot of ethnic German cookies. We made springerle and lebkuchen, things like that,” Swartz said. “When I came back to Marion after working in Washington, D.C. for about seven years, everybody was asking for springerle. I had to look through my old notes from culinary school and pull out my springerle recipe. We still sell a lot of that.”

Springerle is a type of German biscuit made from eggs, white wheat flour and very fine, powdered sugar. The tasty little treats originated in the 14th century in southwestern Germany, according to the foodie website And All the King’s Men.

“We only make a lot of those products once a year, and that’s what drives people in, especially in December,” Swartz said. “The springerle, spritz cookies — there’s so many of them.”

In fact, Swartz noted, he only sees some customers during the holidays.

“And that’s fine. I love it,” he said with a broad smile. “They only buy cookies for Christmas. Maybe they don’t eat sweets throughout the year, but they eat them during the holiday season.”

Signature cookies that Swartz prepares year round, but which are favorites during the holidays, include Andrew’s Biscotti, the Presidential Sweet and Sweet Dreams.

Swartz makes three varieties of biscotti, a baked Italian dipping cookie made with almonds, pistachios and chocolate hazelnuts. The Presidential Sweet includes ground espresso chocolate chips, oatmeal golden raisins, nuts and coconut. The Sweet Dreams are chocolate chip cookies with a touch of cinnamon, ginger, pecans and a confectioner’s glaze.

Cut-out cookies of all sorts, pies, cakes and tortes are in demand during the holidays, Swartz said.

“People don’t bake cookies in their homes like they used to. Some do, but it’s not as it used to be,” he said. “We open up our pie menu, basically, beginning in late October and carry that over into November and through December. Old-fashioned cream pies, coconut cream, chocolate cream and pecan, key lime; we really do a nice selection. That’s a crazy time. My assistant, Grant Campbell, and I are working almost non-stop.”

Swartz calls his little shop in Marion “a dinosaur,” because patrons can actually watch him and Campbell rolling out dough, putting biscotti in the oven to bake, and filling cream puffs, which they can then buy, just moments after they’ve been in the master’s hands.

“There’s not many places you can go into and see the equipment and they make the stuff on site,” he said. “We make everything right here and that’s really the big difference. And Grant and I not only make the stuff, we wait on customers, too. So, if somebody wants to know what’s in the product, we can tell them what’s exactly in it, in case they have any allergy issues or anything like that. It really helps. And we get to know so many people who come in all the time.”

As if on cue, in walks a lady seeking a coconut cream pie. She’s a regular.

“I’m making Charlie a coconut cream pie right now,” Swartz tells her before she has a chance to order anything.

“You are today?” she asks, surprised.

“Today. It’s in the oven. I’ll bring it over,” Swartz responds, flashing a wide grin.

“It’s not his birthday,” she says, laughing.

“It doesn’t matter,” Swartz quips, still grinning.

“You’re just being extra nice. Thank you,” she says as she heads out the door.

Swartz, still grinning, winks and picks up the conversation again.

“You need to take some doughnuts with you,” he says.

Who can resist?

ANDREW’S PASTRIES

1282 Delaware Ave., Marion, OH 43302

740-387-3830

andrewspastries.com

Open 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday; 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday; and 6 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday

Salt Magazine