Q&A with Margarete Garner

Margarete Garner | Simply Sweet by Margarete | Tupelo

by Kristina Domitrovich // photos by Lindsay Pace

Background

Throughout her 32 years in the U.S., Margarete Garner spent most of that working in the food industry. She’s never had formal training, but she loves reading cookbooks.

“I always wanted a bakery, and I decided if I want to do it, I need to do it before I turn 50, and I did,” she said grinning. “Before I opened up, I had a little idea (for the menu), and I love to read cookbooks, so I thought, ‘This sounds good, that sounds good, this is what people ask for lunch.’”

Simply Sweet by Margarete opened its doors in 2012. It offers  several types of breads — asiago, bacon, sourdough, Bavarian rye and sweet breads like banana nut, blueberry lemon, apple pecan — along with several pastries, strudels, pies, gourmet chocolates and everyday cakes. 

“We don’t do decorative cakes; we do more traditional. I refer (customers) to other great bakers in town if they want something pretty,” she said laughing.

Through the years, people began asking for soups during lunch, so Garner crafted a few options. Then her customers wanted breads and sandwiches to accompany the soups, so she created a few options there, too. Coming from Germany, she wanted to stick close to her roots.

“My plan was to give it a little European touch, but you still have to kind of cater to the needs and demands from here,” she said. “Some of our schnitzel, for example, I brought some sauerkraut, kind of put that in. Something they don’t get everywhere. I want to be different.”

And for nearly a decade, even through last year’s hardships, Garner has seen her customers return time and time again for the unique offerings.

“The people in Tupelo, to me, have been amazing,” she said. “They have supported me, and they are still supporting me, and it’s just been a good experience.”

Simply Sweet offers a slew of different freshly baked breads.

Can customers expect anything new coming to Simply Sweet?
There’s all kinds of things in my mind. It’s very hard to bring it out at the time, because you get so consumed. We are doing good. I’m happy with what we’re doing and how we’re doing it, and where we are right now. I am not expanding, I am not moving and I’m not getting bigger. (Because) I want to do it, I do not want people doing it for me. … There’s all kinds of options, but I’m very content. 

Garner said if anything changes, it will likely be with the amount of tables available, or maybe something out on the patio.

Biggest tips for home bakers?
Trial and error. Me, too, when I first started out, my baguettes were all crooked. My sourdough sometimes doesn’t rise the way it’s supposed to. The weather has something to do with it. The ovens have something to do with it. How long you knead the bread has something to do with it. Keep on trying. There is no secret to it. I mean, I have thrown enough away.

Classically southern mini pecan pies.

What’s your favorite thing on the menu?

I do all the bread myself. … Our sourdough is a very good seller.

When you’re home, what do you bake?

One of the few recipes I brought with me from home, I used to do at home, is our white grape juice cake. People really like it. It’s a bundt cake, and after you bake it, you pour boiling hot white grape juice over it and it soaks it in the cake. That’s what I made a lot at home. The chocolate chip pound cake we always liked; the apple praline that I brought from home.

Yogurt-covered cookies in the chocolate counter.

Do you have a favorite ingredient/flavor profile?
Not really because the basics, what we use over and over and over again, is yeast, salt, water, sour cream, cream cheese, sugar, powdered sugar – lot’s of that. So, do I like lavender or something like this? It’s not my thing. Simple. Simple, fast and good, that’s how it has to be. 

What’s your least favorite?

I do not like to do meringue. It’s not that I don’t like it; I don’t like to do it. I have not spent enough time with it; I am not comfortable with it. I’m sure I can do it, but I stay away from it.

Do you have a favorite cookbook?
I like simple things. My favorite one is a Betty Crocker cookbook. I like the Daily Journal’s cookbooks they bring out every year, I have just about every one of them. I like simple things. 

I do not go online, I don’t do computers.

 

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