In the kitchen with … Jess Parker

In the kitchen with … Jess Parker

Stop by The Bent Spoon in Shawnee Township

By Michelle Stein

Jess Parker stands at the front counter of her business The Bent Spoon Bakery on Shawnee Road in Lima. Parker started the business with her husband, Justin. KELLI CARDINAL/THE LIMA NEWS

Everything bagels are just one item customers can purchase at The Bent Spoon. KELLI CARDINAL/THE LIMA NEWS

Toasted nut and honey croissants are displayed in front of a line of chocolate croissants at the front counter. KELLI CARDINAL/THE LIMA NEWS

With a focus on fresh, wholesome ingredients — and indulgent flavors that won’t disappoint — The Bent Spoon in Shawnee Township has already established itself as a neighborhood bakery since opening its doors in January. However, the beginnings of this family-owned business might surprise you. Owners Jess and Justin Parker were actually part of the local farmers market scene before setting up shop at their 2508 Shawnee Road location.

“My husband had been doing other jobs, and he was just tired of working for other people,” Jess Parker said. “And it was always our goal, since we started to cooking together in the kitchen and stuff like that, he’s like, ‘We need to start our own place.’ So a few years back, he said, ‘I’m tired of working for other people.’ And I said, ‘OK, well let’s start doing this.’

The Parkers decided to start off with a focus on bagels, since there didn’t seem to be anyone specializing in them at area farmers markets. “You’d get a lot of variety of some really great, homemade breads and other baked goods. But there’s none of that kind of stuff,” Jess said. “And you know, just because they’re from a small town doesn’t mean people don’t have metropolitan tastes.”

Jess and Justin gradually grew their business from home, hitting up farmers markets during the warmer months and freelancing during wintertime for about three years.

“We did bread for a grocery store in Leipsic for a while, but then they needed more bread and they were an hour away,” Jess said. “So after a while, it just got kind of unfeasable to make stuff for people an hour away.”

That’s when the Parkers started making scones for Coffe Amor — and how the couple ended up hearing about the availability of their current location, which formerly housed the coffee shop.

Since opening up a physical storefront in Shawnee Township, the Parkers now offer a wide variety of baked items. From pastries, to gourmet bagels, rolls, croissants, breakfast sandwiches and more, there’s something for all tastes. This includes stuffed and unstuffed scones — in flavors like lemon blueberry, orange cranberry, turtle, espresso and chocolate chip — along with seasonal favorites, like pecan pumpkin scones stuffed with homemade apple butter in the fall. (Heck, you might even find a tasty treat for your canine companions, as Jess and Justin have started experimenting with dog biscuits.)

“Whatever you think of, I can probably do. Sometimes, my husband will just start playing with the dough and we can see what’s going on from there. And if it looks pretty, we sell it. And if we don’t, we just eat it all,” Jess laughed.

The Bent Spoon’s approach to ingredients is what sets it apart from competition, she explained.

“We don’t skimp on the ingredients,” Jess said. “We use real butter. We use whole milk. We use real food instead of preservatives or genetically modified stuff. For our whole-wheat bread, we use locally-sourced honey instead of sugar in it. And for things like our bagels, there’s a dozen to a batch and there’s only 2 tablespoons of sugar in the whole batch. And that’s pretty much just to activate the yeast.”

In addition quality ingredients, the fact that their goods are all prepared and baked right there is key to the finished product, Jess explained.

“Everything that’s in the store that’s like icing or stuffing or jelly-related, we do all of that in house. We do everything in house,” she said. “We do roasted garlic asiago bagels that we roast the garlic ourselves and everything. We even grate the cheese ourselves for it.”

With all of these indulgent options in their line-up, The Bent Spoon has quickly become a grab-and-go breakfast stop for people heading to work in the Shawnee area, Jess said. (And while they’re popping in for a tasty treat or breakfast sandwich, many customers also like to grab some coffee, chai tea, orange juice or apple juice.)

“We always get our people between 6 and 8 that generally come in for one of the chocolate croissants, or one of the scones, and a cup of coffee,” she said. “On Sundays, we get a lot of people coming for cinnamon rolls because $2 cinnamon rolls on Sunday. And our cinnamon rolls are pretty much the same size as Cinnabon’s.”

And whether you’re looking for something to take to a party or a social gathering — or just a tasty treat to share at home with family, The Bent Spoon does take orders for loaves of bread and more.

“We do a really great cinnamon swirl bread that makes excellent french toast or bread pudding,” Jess said. “We also do great coffee cakes. They’re huge. Quite frankly, if someone says, ‘Do you do this?’ we usually don’t tell them no. We just say yes and then figure out how to do it.”

“We always do any holiday baking you might need,” she added. “And also, we’re probably going to start adding things like french toast casserole and my husband, he was playing with some waffles and he actually posted them on our Instagram page.”

If you’re wondering how the Parkers came up with the unique name of their business, there’s a story there, too. It all started with a set of spoons.

“We had always tried to come up with different names, and we weren’t sure what we wanted to do,” Jess said. “The set has a smaller one that has a slight curve to the stem of the spoon. I cooked something that was really good, and my husband says, ‘Oh man, that was delicious.’ And I said, ‘Oh, another bent spoon production.’ Because I don’t know why, but this spoon was one of my favorite spoons to use — probably because it’s small, so you knew it was getting in the nooks and crannies. And we were just kind of like, ‘Oh, Bent Spoon! That’s what it is.’”

DOG BISCUITS

Ingredients:

1 mashed banana

1 cup pumpkin puree

3 cup whole wheat flour

2 eggs

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix all ingredients together. Dust counter and rolling pin with flour and roll dough 1/8-inch thick. Cut treats with desired cutter. Place on baking sheet. Bake 20 minutes. Let cool and spoil poochie.

PANZANELLA

Ingredients:

1 loaf day old dry bread, cut into cubes

2 tomatoes, cubed

1 cucumber, cubed

1 red onion, thinly sliced

Large bunch of basil

1/2 cup olive oil

Zest of 1 lemon

8 ounces feta cheese

Directions:

Mix bread and vegetables. Thinly slice basil and toss throughout.

Make dressing olive oil and lemon zest. Pour over bread and vegetables. Add feta and toss.

FRENCH TOAST CASSEROLE

Ingredients:

1 loaf cinnamon swirl bread, cut into bite-size pieces

6 eggs

2 cups milk

2 teaspoons vanilla

Directions:

Place bread in 9-by-12-inch baking pan.

In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, milk and vanilla and pour over bread.

Set in fridge overnight.

Bake next day for 30 minutes at 450 F.

The Bent Spoon

2508 Shawnee Road, Lima

6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays

Call 419-371-3687 to place an order.

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