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Sweet Like a Bird Bakery

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Sweet Like a Bird Bakery
Text by Maggie White. Photos by Nick Simonite.

A San Antonio Family Bakery Takes Flight
with the Season’s Sweetest Dessert Recipes

Ready for something sweet? Not only will the desserts that follow set your heart aflutter but so too will the story behind these gorgeous goodies. Baker Elizabeth Chambers returned to San Antonio, the city she had moved away from at age two, to open Bird Bakery in 2012. She hatched this business venture as a way to honor the strong female influences in her life. “My British grandmother had a very successful catering company here and that is why I chose to open here,” says Chambers. “People still always ask for her recipes and this bakery was a way to pay homage to her talents. She was my best friend.”

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Coconut Cake.

Chambers, who co-owns the bakery with her husband, chose the name because she loves birds, and because she wanted the name of her business to convey a connection to nature and all that is natural. But the moniker is also a nod to another beloved family member. “When I was growing up, whenever my mom was redecorating, or adding things to our house,” says Chambers. “She would say so cheerfully, ‘I’m feathering our nest,’ I love that.” In fact, while Elizabeth has spent years perfecting many of her own dessert recipes, it’s her mom’s carrot cake and her grandmother’s English trifle that take the cake as far as the “best dessert ever” award. This holiday season, she’ll be making the latter at her home. “To me, her trifle embodies Christmas. It’s so decadent, with layers of sponge cake, lemon curd, blackberry preserves, custards, slivered almonds, and liqueurs,” she says. “My mom and I have a very different idea of how much booze to add. I say the more the better—it’s the holidays!”

Perhaps they’ll call upon Chambers’ sister, a “genius who graduated at the top of her class at culinary school” to offer final say on the liqueur levels. After all, she credits both mom and sister for helping her build her business, for keeping her inspired with new ideas, and for being willing to taste test and tweak. “My mother has such a creative mind—and my sister is brilliant; she has her finger on the pulse. Between the two of them, I am really fortunate.” For Chambers, it seems birds of a feather, very sweetly, stick together.

Southern Pecan Pie

Southern Pecan Pie 
Southern Pecan Pie.

 “The one thing you can play with for this pie is the filling. Everyone has their own opinion about pecan pie. I like my filling gooey, but some people like a filling that is more nutty.”

 

Frosted Sugarbird Cookies

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Frosted Sugarbird Cookies.

“It really does not matter how poorly these cookies are decorated, because they taste so good. Almond extract is the key to the terrific flavor.  Let kids decorate and make a mess, and these treats will still disappear.”

 

Sea Salt Peanut Butter Bars

Squares
Sea Salt Peanut Butter bars.

“This bar is all about the top. It never looks as pretty when I do it at home as it does at the bakery, but you can just make the top smooth.”

 

Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies

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Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies.

COOKIE BAKING TIP
“Take a scoop of dough and level scoop. Put them ‘mound up’ on
the sheet. Chill before baking. No need to squish down dough.”

 

Coconut Cake

COCONUT CAKE copy
Coconut Cake.

 “The most important things is that the inside of the cake must be moist and delicious. Follow directions, but don’t worry too much about looks. A cake leveler is great, but this cake is so nostalgic, it’s the comfort food of desserts. It does not have to be perfect.”