Food & Drink

Brunch, baguettes and bagels: Deluxe Bakery expands repertoire beyond sweet treats

The housemade English muffin served with bacon, egg and cheese is part of the brunch menu at Deluxe Cakes & Pastries in Iowa City on Sunday, April 22, 2018. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
The housemade English muffin served with bacon, egg and cheese is part of the brunch menu at Deluxe Cakes & Pastries in Iowa City on Sunday, April 22, 2018. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
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IOWA CITY — For 14 years, Jamie Powers and her staff at Deluxe Cakes & Pastries have satisfied Iowa City’s sweet tooth with cakes, cookies, scones and more. But a few years ago, Powers was feeling restless. She wanted to expand their offerings into a more savory direction.

“About three years ago I knew I wanted to make a change for the bakery. As a baker, I had more skills in my wheelhouse I was not showcasing,” she said.

But first, she wanted to hone those skills. She spent three years practicing and improving her bread game, while also planning how adding bread, bagels and brunch would fit into the small shop’s workflow.

That meant renovating an adjacent apartment into additional kitchen space, as well as hiring more staff. The renovations, which also included removing a wall between the kitchen and the dining room so customers can interact with the bakers, took about a year and a half. The bakery was able to stay open most of that time, but closed briefly three times. The updated version of Deluxe officially opened Jan. 23, complete with an expanded menu and Sunday brunch.

“It was a long preparation. I wanted you to feel like you were still with the same Deluxe, yet in a way it was a different bakery,” Powers said. “Bakeries are opening up everywhere, but to me a bakery showcasing bread work, sweets and celebration cakes is a full service bakery, which is what I was going for.”

While preparing, she spent a week working at James Beard Award-winning bakery Bread Furst in Washington, D.C., learning from the staff there and studying their system.

“As a 42-year-old person, it’s pretty easy to get in your comfort zone, and it’s pretty interesting to step out of it,” she said.

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Her new brunch offerings, which include sourdough toast with avocado, tomato, bacon and egg, a salmon lox bagel, English muffin breakfast sandwich and brioche waffles, are meant to showcase the new bread focus.

Brunch is served only on Sundays, but other new menu items including a croissant crust quiche and baguette sandwiches are available throughout the week. Bagels, English muffins and baguettes also can be ordered to go.

“The Sunday menu is based off all different kinds of bread. We’ve completely changed our whole platform. It’s a totally different shop,” Powers said.

The baguette sandwiches are intentionally straightforward, with a few ingredients and no extra spreads.

“When I go to France, they have a very simple sandwich to go. If you’ve got a good bread, a good butter, good meat and cheese, I don’t know what else you need,” Powers said.

Since opening in 2003, the bakery has been a staple in Iowa City’s Longfellow neighborhood, tucked on residential streets away from the hustle of downtown. Powers said she originally picked the location for affordability, but now can’t imagine having it elsewhere. The cafe was crowded Sunday, with plenty of foot traffic from the neighborhood.

“What I love about the shop are the family celebrations we are involved in — birthdays, weddings, funerals,” Powers said.

She’s hoping the bakery is around for a long time.

“This is the only thing I love doing,” Powers said. “I just never want to stop. I normally have the attention span of a gnat, but I don’t ever want to stop baking.”

l Comments: (319) 398-8339; alison.gowans@thegazette.com

If you go

• What: Deluxe Bakery

• Where: 812 S. Summit St., Iowa City

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• Hours: 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday to Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, brunch served 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday

• Details: (319) 338-5000, deluxeiowa.com

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