It wasn’t Leah’s, but after two years of being pie-starved, I turn into Barbie’s Bakeshop, where the red-and-white sign leads you to a separate entrance in a trim ranch house on Hwy. 52 west of Barnett.


It wasn’t Leah’s, but after two years of being pie-starved, I turn into Barbie’s Bakeshop, where the red-and-white sign leads you to a separate entrance in a trim ranch house on Hwy. 52 west of Barnett.

It wasn’t Leah, the Mennonite woman whose pies, bread and apple dumplings – but mostly pies–– kept the north and west side of the Lake fat and happy and ready for company at a moment’s notice. In her day, the inimitable Leah had a host of young Mennonite girls in their trim white bonnets, calico dresses and heavy stockings helping her keep a long row of industrial ovens filled with goodies.

She also had a multitude of fans.

Many of my weekend friends made a first stop at Leah’s before they ever reached the Lake, just to be sure to have the honey wheat bread, lemon meringue or fresh blackberry pies that were as much a part of a summer weekend as jet skiing and barbecue. Me? Well, after I had knee surgery a few years ago, I made my husband stop at Leah’s bakeshop on the way home from Boone Hospital so I could have apple dumplings, and thereby heal more quickly.

When I open the white frame door and step inside the shop, I am greeted by Barbie, the heady smell of fresh-made doughnuts, and three-month-old Kelsi who is helping her mother this day. As I look around, I see cinnamon and pecan rolls, a variety of cookies, home made donuts to sample and — be still my heart — berry, peach and coconut cream pies.

A friendly young Mennonite woman in traditional garb, Barbie offers me a free cup of coffee and a cream-filled doughnuts, while Kelsi watches me with wide, critical eyes. I bite into the doughnut and know all is well. Clearly Barbie knows her way around a doughnut fryer, and by implication, the business end of a mixer and rolling pin.

She used to be one of the girls who helped Leah, she tells me. In fact, Barbie’s recipes came from Leah. And she’s been in business for two years. Better and better, I think. Besides, it’s past time for me to develop new loyalties.

I pick up a loaf of honey wheat bread and a list of the pies, cakes, cookies, breads, cinnamon rolls and apple dumplings that Barbie turns out with the help of three girls whom she is teaching.  Now that spring is here, she’s open six days a week, she tells me, but encourages me to call before I come by, “to make sure that I’ve got what you want.”

The next morning, I slice the honey wheat bread for toast. My husband has three pieces. He’s ready to try her other kinds.  Me, I’m satisfied. My honey wheat toast is at least as good as Leah’s. Actually, if I’m being honest, it may be just a tad better.