The word “sensible” means both practical and perceptible by the senses. Sensibly Homemade, the new bakery on Blackstone and 52nd Street, fulfills these definitions to the fullest extent. Its owners’ devotion to culinary excellence and Southern tradition manages to envelope the senses in the delicious and the nostalgic. Perhaps the most extraordinary attempt to be true to their efforts is their incorporation of generations’ worth of family recipes, most of them passed down through a long line of Southern grandmothers.
Noel Hammond started off the business a few years ago as a homemade baked goods catering and delivery service. She specialized in tailor-made cakes and pies. Her efforts to converge reasonable prices and superb ingredients have carried on to Sensibly Homemade. Hammond’s partner, Kelly Sullivan, joined the team after he narrowly defeated her in an office bake-off. Shortly thereafter, Angelica, a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu, became a partner in baking.
The bakery’s unassuming storefront lets the sweets do the talking. Stripped down to the essentials, there is nothing to distract from the food or to hinder interaction with the owners. Sullivan, Hammond, and Angelica are charming and eager to reveal their secret tricks and ingredients, and the atmosphere is more like a down-home recipe share. “A lot of people come in asking for their grandmothers’ homemade pies. Well, what is it that makes it so special?” asks Hammond. Attention to customer care is their signature, and they are happy to grant requests for traditional family recipes. “Sometimes people want that flavor and want it to be healthier or reworked and we can do that,” Hammond adds. This kind of recipe and flavor exchange has formulated their current repertoire. They aim to be the stress-free version of your treasured Southern family recipe.
The piÃ¨ce de rÃ©sistance is their pound cake, a deceptively exacting confection. Oftentimes too dry, or oversimplified, they have managed to perfect the recipe to the point at which other ingredients can be deliciously incorporated without distracting from the basic tastes. They have over eight flavors of pound cake, which range from 7 Up to lemon and cherry.
The bakers’ focus on locally and seasonally available foods makes for great innovations in flavor. They travel to Door County, Wisconsin on a regular basis to seek out the best in local produce and take the utmost care in preparation. The sweet potato pound cake, for example, requires fresh sweet potatoes slow-roasted for several hours, which lends the cake a warming festive swirl.
Sensibly Delicious has been open for nearly two months now and is still in the process of building a solid client base. This recent holiday season proved bountiful, with many requests from those with “Mom’s special pumpkin pie recipe” but no time to cook. In the future, they plan on making ice cream and gelato, to cool summer time heat-waves. As Hyde Park natives, they feel like they can sate a sweet tooth for tradition that has gone unfulfilled.
With all sorts of made-to-order baked goods and a fantastic selection of single-slice pound cakes, it seems like the perfect go-to place for some, well, sensibly homemade goods. Today they are dealing with the practicalities, like their lack of onsite kitchens or ovens. But in the meantime, they seem poised to give Hyde Park a sweet taste of the South.
Sensibly Homemade Bakery, 1436 E. 52nd St. Monday-Friday, 7am-6pm; Saturday, 10am-6pm. sensiblyhomemade.com