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The Bakehouse of Litchfield

Prisoners confined to the Litchfield Jail when it was opened in the dark days of the War of 1812 would not have believe it. Fed a monotonous diet of bread, cheese, gruel and suet—unless they were lucky enough to have food brought in by family or friends—they would have been incredulous at the enticing aromas emitting from one cell today.

Two centuries after the building was opened, the renovated facility has become home to The Bakehouse, has been filled with an array of delectable baked goods. Jeremy McKendry and Allison Varian opened The Bakehouse in May 2018, after a three-year hunt for the perfect location.

McKendry, who trained at the International Culinary Center in New York City—formerly the French Culinary Institute—was first to lay eyes on the location. He was traveling to a golf tournament in Harwinton when he passed the site. He shared his discovery with his partner, Varian, a professionally trained cake decorator whom he had met while both were working at Wholefoods in Yonkers NY.

The two fell in love with Litchfield’s small-town feel and the transformed jailhouse. Soon the Bakehouse was born. As with many small-business owners, their work is all-consuming. They arrive at their bakery at 3AM in the morning to prepare for the day and are often still there at 7PM. In between they craft an extraordinary array of delicacies that have quickly found a following in the region. (The bakery’s business hours are Monday and Tuesday, 7AM-4PM; closed Wednesday, Thursday-Sunday, 7AM-4PM).

McKendry credits the quality of the bakery’s bread to his pre-ferments, or starters, especially one he started using while in culinary school and that he has maintained ever since. He asserts that the fermentation creates the rich flavors of the breads found at the bakery—that, and the attention McKendry and Varian lavish on their products.

French baguettes, white, sourdough and olive breads, Challah bread, focaccia and brioche all flow from the bakery’s ovens as do rolls in flavors that change with the day. Muffins and scones, croissants and cinnamon rolls, carrot cake and chocolate cookies are just a few of the offerings on display daily. Pies with seasonal flavors are sold, as are custom cakes designed to the patron’s taste and budget (including the “magical unicorn cake”).

The tidbits can all be washed down with a variety of drinks, including fine teas, hot coffee, nitro cold brew on tap, water and juices.

The Bakehouse is located at 7 North Street in Litchfield; 860-361-6423.