The three Scamoffa sisters have plenty of tasty memories of growing up together. Maybe it was the two birthday cakes their mom Patricia made for them every year.
One was a fancier cake, made in the shape of a Mickey Mouse head, complete with ears and decorated with plenty of icing. The other cake was plain.
"It didn't have any icing on it, but it was really delicious and we would always have it on the side," said Carolyn Scamoffa Cooney. ".. and she would let us have it for breakfast."
Both were homemade and the girls always helped with each other's birthday cake. In the Scamoffa household, there was scratch baking for every holiday and homemade cupcakes for school functions.
As the sisters grew up they pursued their own careers - Amy Scamoffa Platt, a degree in chemical engineering; Amanda Scamoffa Dyas, a degree in sociology. Cooney graduated from the Academy of Culinary Arts then went to Richard Stockton College of New Jersey in Galloway Township where she received her business degree.
While Cooney was getting industry experience, and Dyas was working on some recipes they had created together, Platt had decided to take a break from chemical engineering.
That is when the entrepreneurial-minded sisters realized they may be better off working for themselves rather than for other people for the rest of their lives. They knew they were talented enough to make it work.
"We really wanted to be together and have our own business," said Cooney. "And we were always interested in baking."
The Bake Works first opened in Linwood in 2005, with a basic core of tried-and-true family recipes.
A few years later they moved to their present, larger location in Northfield.
The sisters learned quickly their thriving business wasn't only about baking.
"We have to be our own public relations people, we have to be our own plumbers, we have to figure out how to design spaces so that people can work in here," said Cooney. "We have to be Renaissance women and have to adapt to what we can do everyday, to be everything, and that's kinda cool."
As a small business, they can't afford to hire designers, people to lay out the kitchen, marketing or payroll. They have to do it all.
Their dad Bruce helped tile the floor before the business got started and mother Patricia is often seen behind the counter, wearing an apron and helping with the customers.
It's the work part of the Bake Works for the three sisters for whom baking comes so naturally.
The baking is still the fun, creative part of running the business.
"It's the undercurrent that runs everything but so much more is involved," said Cooney.
Dyas' husband, Bob, also is involved in the Bake Works. With Christmas cookie memories of his own, Dyas contributed recipes from his Italian family repertoire.
In particular, his grandmother Loretta Petronzio's Holly Sprig cookie recipe.
He got the particulars from his mother when they opened the bakery and needed some new cookie recipes.
"It's like a really light buttery cookie, not doughy, but flaky, and it breaks apart when you bite into it," said Bob Dyas.
The cookie is actually two cookies sandwiched together with a raspberry preserve filling with walnuts in it.
Dyas has no idea why they were called Holly Sprigs, but describes it as a really delicious cookie, with a tone in his voice that any cookie aficionado will quickly recognize. It has something to do with Christmas memories.
Around Christmastime The Bake Works becomes a cookie factory, all homemade. Cut out, decorated, pressed or chocolate-covered, in shapes of mittens, trees or holly sprigs. Gingerbread and anisette, and a fancy buche de Noel also are on the shelves.
Nanette's chocolate chip cake, the recipe the sisters remember from their birthdays past, is still available around the holidays, although tweaked a little bit.
Now made in a single-serving size pan, it can still be made in any size with some advance notice.
Nanette's Chocolate Chip Cake
•1/2 cup of sugar
•1 teaspoon cinnamon
•16 ounces of sour cream (1 pint container)
•1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
•1 stick of butter (1/4 pound)
•1 1/2 cups of sugar
•1 teaspoon vanilla
•3 cups of flour
•1 1/2 tsp baking powder
•1/2 tsp salt
•12 ounces of chocolate chips
In a small bowl, mix together 1/2 cup of sugar and cinnamon and set aside.
In another bowl mix together sour cream and baking soda. This will become frothy and expand, which is a good thing.
Cream butter and 1 1/2 cups of sugar until pale and fluffy. Add vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time, until incorporated.
Mix together flour, baking powder and salt and then slowly add to butter mixture until batter just comes together.
In a 9- by 13-baking pan grease well and spread half the batter in pan.
Sprinkle half the chocolate chips and then half of the cinnamon sugar mixture. Carefully dollop the rest of the batter on top of this layer and the sprinkle with remaining chocolate chips and sugar.
Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for approximately 40 minutes. Let cool (or until you can't resist any longer) and enjoy.
•1 cup butter or margarine (2 sticks)
•1/2 cup of confectioners sugar, sifted
•1 teaspoon vanilla
•1 1/2 cups flour
•1/2 cup walnuts or almonds finely chopped
•1 cup of raspberry preserves
Cream butter, sugar and vanilla until blended, stir in flour and nuts.
Roll dough a level teaspoon at a time into balls between palms of hands.
Place 2 inches apart onto a greased cookie sheet.
Lightly grease the bottom of a measuring cup and dip into confectioners sugar.
Press each ball to flatten to about 1-inch rounds.
Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until golden around edges.
Cool on wire rack.
Sandwich two cookies together with raspberry preserves and dust with confectioners sugar.