Morning Buns: A family’s sweet dream come true
Kylee Rickards’ eyes light up as she describes the process of making the impossibly delicate layers of pastry that make up her croissants.
“You just keep folding them over and over on each other,” said the Culinary Institute of America graduate, who recently opened the Morning Buns Bake Shop in Ocean View, alongside her mother, Lynn Rickards. Her voice actually takes on a quiet reverence when she talks about the eight-hour process by which she transforms layers of pastry dough into buttery perfection.
“Croissants are my babies,” said Kylee, who went off to the CIA in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., after graduating from Sussex Technical High School.
The pair opened Morning Buns on Jan. 23, in a 1920s-era cottage on Atlantic Avenue (Route 26). While it wasn’t the location they had initially sought, the little house has turned out to be a perfect fit for the bakery. Its bright yellow exterior leads to an equally sunny coral and butter yellow interior, with pale green accents here and there.
On a recent morning, sun streamed through the bakery windows, glinting off the bakery case and its jewel-like contents. The sunlight gave a sugary sheen to croissants and danishes, cookies and scones. The aromas of cinnamon and coffee fill the air.
Kylee, whose studies at CIA concentrated on baking and pastries, said she arrives at the bakery each morning by around 4:30 a.m. to start on the day’s offerings. It’s a labor of love for her, and after a few years in New York and Washington, D.C., working in the quality-control side of the bakery business, she welcomed the chance to get her hands back into the butter and flour.
“It’s hard to be passionate about something and to know it’s not what it could be,” she said.
As a general manager who also happened to be a young woman, she said, she sometimes found it difficult getting older bakers, “especially men,” to take her advice on how they could improve the quality of their products.
Having her own bakery not only gives Kylee control over her final product, it also allows her to let her creative side come out and play.
“I’ve always been creative,” she said.
Asked to choose her favorite thing to bake, she said that cakes would be her choice because she enjoys the artistic side of baking them and then decorating them.
“It combines my love of food and art,” Kylee said.
She said she particularly enjoys taking a customer’s vision and making it a reality.
“It kind of brings the whole process full-circle,” Kylee said. “It makes them happy, and it makes me happy as well.”
Asked to choose her favorite bakery treat to eat, however, her answer is, without hesitation, “pain au chocolate — chocolate croissants.”
While Kylee might be the trained baker in the family, Lynn Rickards said Morning Buns is the fulfillment of a lifelong dream for her as well. Although she studied biology in college, Lynn said her own mother was a gourmet cook, “so I was cooking from very early on.”
That love of cooking for people led the Northern Virginia native and her husband, Jim, to open the original Bethany Diner on Garfield Parkway, as well as the Sabor restaurant in Bethany Beach. Now, the family focuses on the bakery, as well as Perucci’s Italian restaurant in Millville, which they also own.
Like Perucci’s, Morning Buns gets its custom-roasted coffee from the Notting Hill Coffee Roastery in Lewes, Lynn Rickards said. Morning Buns also offers soft drinks and a variety of teas.
Customers can get their bakery treats to take home or can sit in one of several cozy rooms in the bakery and enjoy the bright décor and the collection of vintage china adorning the walls. Lynn Rickards said the décor in Morning Buns is a happy combination of dishware she collected over the years “just waiting to open a bake shop,” the cottage itself lending inspiration, and just playing with colors and different pieces.
The pair plans to add even more of a vintage feel to the shop through the baked goods themselves, as they move forward into their first summer season. “Heirloom recipes” for cakes and cookies will find their way into the Morning Buns kitchen — and Kylee and Lynn Rickards said they are open to requests and suggestions from patrons. “We always listen to our customers,” Lynn said.
In fact, that’s how the bakery’s most popular item — monkey bread — came to appear in the case alongside the more upper-crust offerings, such as scones and croissants.
Each day, Morning Buns offers an array of pastries, muffins, scones, cookies, loaf cakes, cupcakes and cake pops. The flavors of cupcakes, cake pops and cookies may vary from day to day, as they are rotated on a weekly basis. In addition, Kylee said she is happy to talk to customers about made-to-order cakes and pies.
The Rickardses also plan to expand their bakery business by way of the internet, with health-conscious items such as protein bars and granola, as well as treats for diners of the canine species, to be added to their existing website.
Morning Buns also offers gluten-free items, all baked in a different location in order to avoid accidental gluten contamination, which is important for those with gluten sensitivity.
Although they have only been open a few weeks, and in wintertime at that, the Rickardses said they have been quite pleased with the reaction to the shop. Since opening the bakery, Kylee and Lynn Rickards have seen days when customers are lined up at the door waiting for them to open, as well as lines out the door on weekend mornings.
Since everything in the shop is made fresh, every day, “when it’s gone, it’s gone,” Lynn said, recalling one recent day when, by noon, “We had one cupcake and two croissants left. Everything else was gone.”
Morning Buns Bake Shop is located at 68 Atlantic Avenue, Ocean View. Parking for the shop is in the lot by the Lighthouse Realty office (the larger blue building next door); additional parking is available in the Mariners Bethel United Methodist Church overflow lot next to the bake shop.
Morning Buns is open from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. every day except Wednesdays; summer hours will be 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information on special-order cakes and other menu items, go to the bakery’s website at www.morningbunsbakeshop.com or call the bakery at (302) 307-2917.