The Altadena Cash Mob this week makes its way to the Dutch Oven Bakery, providing both breakfast and dessert to Altadena for nearly 55 years!
This week’s cash mob will take place tomorrow, Saturday August 4, at Dutch Oven Bakery, located on Lake Avenue next door to the Boys Republic Thrift Store and Oh Happy Days! Natural Food Grocery and Café.
Though the bake shop was founded in 1957 and might just be one of the longest running bakeries still in business under the same name in the Pasadena area, since August of 1990 the head bakers/owner-operators have been David Davis, Sr. and David “Reg” Davis, Jr., a father and son team who live on Mountain View Street and specialize in continuing baking traditions and developing new ones for those who live in Altadena and those who visit the community (including hikers in need of refueling once they're down the hill!). Items you can find at the Dutch Oven Bakery include both full size and small tea cakes, pecan pies, fruit pies and cobblers, turnover fruit pies, blueberry muffins, chocolate chocolate chip muffins, German chocolate cake, cinnamon rolls, birthday cakes, Monkey Bread, Seven-Up and Sock It To Me bread, bran muffins, and varieties of pound cakes, each baked regularly as capacity allows. Day-Old items are also available, with bags of two, three or perhaps if you’re lucky a couple more items, at $1.50 per bag. The Day-Old shelf is right by the door, which makes it easy to run in and pick something up quickly as you’re running errands or even on your way home for tomorrow morning.
The Davis’s specialties are sweet potato pies— available as full size or mini-pies— and wide variety of honey muffins. Honey muffins include honey lemon, honey blueberry, and honey pineapple in a yellow cake. The recipe was derived from the former owner Judith Talbert’s* original honey bran muffins without yellow cake, which the Davis’s still bake as well. At one point, the Davis’s owned three bakeries in the area, including the equally-historic Hillcrest Bakery at Lake and Washington, but Dutch Oven Bakery is the only bakery where you can still get items baked by the Davis’s (Hillcrest’s specialty from was a Swedish bread called Lippa bread, which the Davis’s also continued to bake and sell as a carry-over from its previous Swedish owner, Edward Noren).
An Altadena resident since the early 1960s, and a commuter to Mid-City where he was an insurance salesman who moonlighted as a part-time baker with his son Reg Davis as full-time baker, Mr. Davis had never been in the Dutch Oven Bakery, despite passing it often on Lake Avenue.
“I was always rushing down there towards the freeway without stopping,” stated the elder Davis. But one day a colleague of his told him that the bakery was for sale up here in Altadena by its long-time owners. He pushed it to the back of his mind, but a year later, standing over the mixing bowl, he recalled the bakery and came into speak with the Talbert sisters, which of course led both he and his son to where they are today. Together, the Davis’s baking also changed a bit, and they began to make new things for Altadena in comparison to the baked goods that appealed to the clientele of his previous bakery, at Ann’s Creative Pastries, in next door to the World On Wheels Roller Rink at the Midtown Shopping Center on Venice Blvd. “Doughnuts really sold there, and here we made more muffins and pies,” stated the younger Davis.
“I’ve always loved Altadena, and the people of Altadena,” added the elder Davis. "I wanted to give something back to them."
Photo cakes are available as special orders for occasions, as are custom birthday and wedding cakes with real buttercream frosting. The Davis’s previously baked bread when they first took ownership at Dutch Oven as well, however, he found it hard to compete with the low-prices of bread at grocery stores— baking bread was costly on a day in, day out basis and at that time in the 1990s, people just weren’t buying fresh bread. If there is a local demand for bread, Mr. Davis might consider bringing it back. He also has many old recipes and formulas for items such as Salt Rising Bread, some of which include certain types of yeasts and flours that are no longer easily or affordably found as commercial mixes have became more common. I suggested that perhaps a Dutch Oven Cook Book with these recipes and formulas might be in order down the line.
Davis and Davis are at the bakery beginning at 5am on weekdays and Saturdays, and at 7am on Sundays. Coffee is also ready beginning at 5am, so if you need to start your day extra-early and want some motivation to get out of bed – the Dutch Oven Bakery is open for you.
“To bake, baking has to be in a person,” stated Mr. Davis, “Out of all my six boys, Reg has it…my other sons have tried it...it is not just about the ingredients…it comes from within…It is hard work, late at night and early in the morning...You have to listen to the rhythm of the paddle and the dough in the mixer, you can hear it and you can’t do it from the top of your head in commercial baking…You hear that rhythm and then you know the dough is ready.”
Plentiful street parking is available at in the early hours, and for other times of the day, there is also a parking lot in back too. The lot can be entered from a covered walkway between the Altadena Florist and the historic brick Altadena Junction Mt. Lowe Power House.
On the way out the door, Mr. Davis introduced me to the two owners of Bill’s Chicken, who are opening a catering spot next door in the former Erlander’s Natural Department Store. The space will also feature a small weekend-only restaurant serving Carribean food and Jamaican music, too.
So, come on in to the Dutch Oven or call with an advance order whenever you’re in need of something sweet to take to a party, to serve to your own guests, to give as a gift, to treat yourself or to delight a child, but especially come in this Saturday to make an afternoon of it, as we take a day to appreciate the way the Davis’s connect to both the present and past of this neighborhood, showing up at the mixing bowl each morning with dedication. While you’re there, be sure to stop by neighboring local businesses in that block – Altadena Florist and the Boys Republic Thrift Store**, among others— and especially Oh Happy Days! Natural Foods, where you can take home some fruits, vegetables, vegan lunch specials, and vitamins that might be just the thing to make your peace with the fact that you just ate two honey muffins in a row (remember, you can always come back and/or take more to go)!
*Some long-time Altadena residents have mentioned that the two German sisters who ran the bakery were rumored to have helped oppose the Nazis during World War II…has anyone else heard or can share the details of this story?
**Also known as one of the best hidden thrift stores in all of the Los Angeles area to find vintage wares at genuine thrift store prices, this thrift store run by the all-volunteer Pasadena Auxiliary since 1986 has raised $1.5 million dollars in funds to support Boys Republic’s services for at-risk youth
Dutch Oven Bakery
Locally Owned by the Davis Family
2281 Lake Avenue
Altadena, CA 91001
Open 7 Days a Week // Monday-Saturday 5am-6pm, Sunday 7am-2pm