A favorite season for Zingerman’s Bakehouse, fall brings about crisp weather and calls for warm spices, comfort foods and football of course! Whip up some Sugar Crisp Muffins to kick off the season; Bavarian Soft Pretzels and 5 O'clock Cheddar Ale Soup in honor of Oktoberfest; or some Michigan Double Chocolate Cookies for the halftime sweet everyone wants! Zingerman’s Bakehouse released their second cookbook Celebrate Every Day: A Year’s Worth of Favorite Recipes for Festive Occasions, Big & Small on October 3.  

Zingerman’s Bakehouse opened in 1992 and helped put Ann Arbor on the map as a food destination (along with the original Zingerman’s Deli and the entire family of Zingerman’s businesses), and is now an integral part of the city and state. The Bakehouse is consistently named among the best bakeries in the country and has more than 3,500 guests visiting the small shop each week, with celebrity fans like Oprah and Barack Obama, to name a few. 

Celebrate Every Day was created with input from the full 150-plus person Bakehouse community and makes the case that any day can and should include moments of celebration, featuring a variety of recipes to mark life events, seasonal holidays, and celebrations, from birthdays and weddings to tailgating, Passover, Mardi Gras, Pi Day, and more.

To learn more, we reached out to Amy Emberling, managing partner at Zingerman's Bakehouse, to gain insights into how bakeries can make the most of the holidays this year.

What are some key trends regarding popular bakery items for the upcoming holiday season?

For us the trend is always traditional favorites. Does that count as a trend? It's our experience that guests want the baked goods that have become synonymous with the holiday in their household. There's not a lot of experimenting going on. People come in or order ahead for exactly what they want and it's usually what they had last year. For us that means we're baking 100s of German stollen, Hungarian Beigli, French Buche de Noel and American pies.

How has Oktoberfest been elevated into a highly celebrated event, and what bakery items (and recipes) are perfect to spotlight? 

In Ann Arbor we get lots of requests for pretzels for Oktoberfest. We love making our Bavarian Pretzel Twists using lard and dipped in lye. They are beautiful and have that distinctive pretzel flavor as well as very chewy texture.

What are important comfort foods today, and how has bakery been influenced by these favorites?

Sugar and fat are comforting! Bakeries are a great place to find them mixed together in tantalizing ways. I always want to bake and sell unfamiliar items but no matter how many interesting and full-flavored unique items we bake, cinnamon rolls are still the biggest sellers of our morning pastries. They're classic! Can't beat 'em.

How is Zingerman’s innovating this year?

We call our kind of innovation old-vation meaning going back to old methods of baking that we think give better results. Right now our focus is on helping to develop the local grain economy by working with farmers who are trying to grow different field grains and we are milling many of the grains ourselves on our stone mills. We're then replacing the refined flour in some of our products with freshly milled whole grain flour.