For Rosie and Michael DeVito of Woodstock, their business now known as the Overlook Bakery all started as a home-based hobby: creating fancy desserts for special occasions for friends and loved ones. “Our real jobs are in real estate,” Rosie confesses. “I was way into cooking before I got into baking. Once I thought about opening a restaurant, and I even took a restaurant management class. The most important lesson I learned from it was: Don’t open a restaurant.”
Parallel to their real estate careers and raising two kids, now aged 11 and 15, Rosie says, she “started baking for parties, friends, social events.” She watched a lot of how-to videos and in time, got good enough at it that she found herself getting requests. “My friends started buying them from me. During the pandemic, I was delivering them to people’s houses. It made me lots of friends!”
Before long, it became clear that demand was going to exceed the capacity of the DeVitos’ home kitchen. And so they took the plunge, renting the space at 105 Tinker Street that formerly housed Nancy’s of Woodstock Artisanal Creamery (now relocated to 297 Tinker Street) to open their own commercial bakery on Easter weekend. “It was an ice cream shop, and before that a knitting store,” Rosie says as she conducts a tour of the facility for Hudson Valley One. “This building was one of the original post offices of Woodstock.”
The down side of that institutional history is that the shop has no public bathroom, so no indoor tables are permitted. The up side is that there’s a lovely brick-paved patio out front by the flagpole where customers can sit to enjoy a cup of coffee or tea and a baked treat on a nice day. The lobby area does have a long counter where you can set your snack down, if the weather’s inclement. “People seem to like the space and the aesthetic. It’s open and bright,” Rosie notes. And indeed, with its light-colored wood floors, white faux-marble countertops and walls painted a pale orchid pink, waiting there for your order feels a bit like being inside a confection.
There weren’t actually many cakes on display when we visited, because the DeVitos had closed the shop for a week, except for taking a few special orders, so that they could do some hiring and training of new staff. “My husband and I do all the baking in-house,” Rosie explains. “We have to bake for four days straight just to stock up for the weekend.” Thus far they’ve only been open Saturdays and Sundays, and they’re often out of stock before closing time.
Peruse the photos of Rosie’s culinary handiwork on Instagram (www.instagram.com/overlookbakery) and you’ll immediately see why these desserts are in such demand. They’re true works of art, decorated with fresh fruits and flowers, curls of shaved chocolate and swirls of icing, stenciled hearts formed of poppyseeds. On one cake, four blue sugar robin’s eggs sit in a nest of coconut. Thin slices of apple are densely layered atop another like a many-petaled blossom on another. For the Cosmic Cake, chocolate frosting so dark that it’s almost black is dusted with gold and blue powdered sugar to form a night sky backdrop, spangled with star-shaped sprinkles. Other cakes are painted with frosting in patterns so ethereal that they evoke the Impressionists. Halloween cupcakes are topped with bloodshot candy eyeballs.
“We do mostly layer cakes, celebration cakes. But some are more casual, like the bundt cakes, cherry torte, breakfasty cakes.” An olive oil cake – “rich but very light” – is a popular item. They also bake a variety of cookies in sometimes-unusual flavor combinations, along with vegan seven-layer Magic Bars that are great pocket-sized fuel for a hike up Overlook Mountain.
Vegans and folks with food allergies can find plenty to savor here. “I do a lot of gluten-free baking. It’s become a niche,” says Rosie. “I love to make a really amazing dessert that people with restrictions can enjoy.”
A peek inside the bakery’s modern kitchen, gleaming with brand-new stainless-steel appliances, reveals “where the magic happens.” Shelves are stacked with sacks of stoneground flours and sugars, fruits and nuts and candies for decorating, enormous bars of Callebaut Finest Belgian Chocolate. “You’ve got to use good ingredients to have the best products,” Rosie observes.
The Overlook Bakery will reopen to the public on May 1, with walk-in service from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays only until the new kitchen staff is up to speed. “We plan on being open more than just weekends,” Mike promises. To place a special order, call (917) 841-7094 or e-mail email@example.com, two weeks in advance of pickup. For updates, visit www.facebook.com/overlookbakery.