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Briana Holt Talks Tandem Bakery Plans

Last week's update on Tandem's West End cafe and bakery expansion raised some questions, including "What's up with that Schlitz can?" This week, baker Briana Holt provides some answers, including her plans for the pastry counter as well as bonus tips for "prancing around in your house making pie."

Will you be making savory goods or focusing exclusively on sweets?
Oh man. I love savory baked goods so much. It's awesome to have good balance on a pastry counter and really entice everyone's moods. There will be a heavy rotation of things like spicy biscuits, savory pies and tarts, and the occasional sandwich. Sandwiches are the most perfect food, so we wouldn't want to leave those out of our arsenal.

What makes sandwiches the most perfect food?
It feels like some kind of wild freedom to make what you want. When you give yourself one hard and fast rule ("Put it between two pieces of bread or bread-like substance"), you can forget all the limitations you think you have. You can think about ingredients you might not normally reach for, like sardines, or pickled fennel, or harissa, or potato chips. It allows you not to worry about the "proper" way to treat them. Making sandwiches (or snacks that are semi-sandwich-like) allows you to combine things you might not otherwise. Plus I love mayonnaise. Like, a lot.

Was that can of Schlitz in the photo set an ingredient or kitchen aid?
Baking at home, off the clock, has its charms. Most of my at-home-hanging-out time involves being in the kitchen, so it often involves drinking beer, too. Have you ever chugged a Schlitz while prancing around in your house making pie? Try it! Also, I can't help but imagine taking advantage of all the amazing beer being brewed around us. Beer's a pretty incredible ingredient in things like cake, bread, and custard.

Do you have a signature dish (or dishes) or plans for limited special items?
The new spot is going to be pretty pie-centric, with a constantly rotating list including seasonal and year-round options. I'm also pretty excited about the chocolate chip cookie, which I hope will cause a ruckus: Traffic jams, people camping out in front of the shop, that sort of thing. Chris Buerkle, who also works at Tandem, makes crazy delicious bread. He'll be in the new kitchen as well, baking fresh loaves a couple of days a week. We're all pretty pumped about our ridiculous incarnation of the Monte Cristo on his fresh-baked sourdough.

How can folks get a taste of the items being baked at the new location?
I make some unplanned stops at Tandem these days with the back of my hoopdie full of sticky buns and such. You might get lucky...
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Tandem Cafe and Bakery

742 Congress St, Portland, ME