Monday, 26 April 2010 15:00
Artisan Baker Susan Myers of Needmore Oatcakes
by Laura Gleason
Tucked away in a woodsy patch of Brown County, baker Susan Myers gets up early in the morning to bake oatcakes, one of the favorite treats of Bloomingfoods customers.
Myers is the owner and sole operator of Needmore Oatcakes, which she launched in 2004. She uses a recipe licensed from her friend Ron Oster, whom she met while living in Hawaii with her husband, Brad Salmon, while she worked in radio and he managed a natural foods co-op there. Myers, ready for a new challenge, found herself drawn to the oatcake baker’s lifestyle.
“I thought, that really looks like something I could do and enjoy myself,” she said.
Being self-employed takes discipline and hard work, but Myers finds the effort is well worth it. “I’m enjoying being my own boss. I don’t mind the workload. I probably work 50 hours a week, and that to me is not unreasonable,” she said.
The oatcake maker’s day starts early, between five and six, when Myers gets up to start mixing, forming and baking the cakes. Her workspace is a cheery yellow kitchen attached to the back of the garage, across from the house she shares with her husband and in-laws. Massive canisters of whole-wheat flour, sugar and oats share space with a formidable convection oven, capable of baking up to 200 oatcakes at once.
The oatcakes come in four flavors: cranberry, date, chocolate chip-walnut and ginger. They’re a filling, substantial snack, with lots of fiber and complex carbohydrates. Some people eat them for breakfast, Myers said, and they can tide you over from one meal to the next if you’re hungry.â¨
Most days, Myers bakes between 100 and 150 oatcakes, and spends the afternoon dropping them off them at shops in and between Nashville and Bloomington. Delivering the oatcakes in person has yielded an unexpected perk, which is getting customer feedback. “I had one lady a few years ago who said, ‘Don’t ever stop making these, I would die!’ and I was like, don’t do that!” Myers recalls.
“I didn’t really think about what a lift that would give me,” she added.
Bloomingfoods customer Joyce Silletti is one such fan, a nutritionist who abides by an oatcake-a-day philosophy. “When I come to the store and they’re not there, I usually come back in the evening to get them. That’s how well I like them,” she said.
“I’m just very grateful that [Myers] is so devoted as to make them for us. It must be really a labor of love,” Silletti added.
Myers returns the affection. She’ll celebrate six years of oatcake making in the fall, and attributes much of her success to Bloomingfoods patrons. “I wouldn’t do what I do without the support of people like Bloomingfoods shoppers,” she said.