by Timothy Whelan, Jr.
Even with America in the firm grips of the low-carb craze, there are still safe havens for the sweet tooths out there, especially in Somerville. One example is G. Case Baking, located on Medford St. outside of Ball Square, which boasts its dedication to “preserving the fine tradition of American baking.”
“Our foundation lies in brownies, cookies, pies and cakes,” said Greg Case, the bakery’s founder and head baker. “And we pride ourselves on making them from scratch.”
Case said that though some bakeries use store bought ingredients in their concoctions, he does not see that as an option.
“Very few places create from scratch because it can be too demanding and expensive to come do a quality job in such a high volume situation,” he said. “We do end up having to throw away a lot, but the bottom line is that there is no comparison to quality.”
During an apprenticeship at Dean and DeLuca in New York, under renowned chef Felipe Rojas-Lombardi, Case got the chance to work with another visible food personality—James Beard. It was an inspirational experience, he said.
“Beard created people’s collective conscious that America has its own cuisine,” Case said.
In 1996, Case, a former student at Emerson College, moved back to Boston. He was the pastry chef at the four-star Hamersley’s Bistro, gaining the confidence and know-how to eventually open his own business, he said.
In 2001, Case decided on his Medford St. location, former home to Jules Catering. The location has suited him and his company nicely, he said.
“Originally, I wanted to do a lot of wholesale to different spots around the city,” he said. “But, after being in this neighborhood and seeing how appreciative they are that we are here, it has made us look to expand our retail much more.
“Even with other bakeries in the area, we all have our own niche so that rather than competing, we support each other. For instance, Arthur’s down the road is more of an Italian bakery, with canoli and pastries and such. So if that’s what people are looking for, we will refer them toward that. It is literally like borrowing a cup of sugar from your next door neighbor,” he said.
Case takes most of his pride and enjoyment in the reactions to his desserts, he said. Customers are often comforted by the assortment in front of them.
“I want people to be interested in good quality,” he said. “Presentation is important, but it is nothing if the taste can’t back it up.”
Case likes to keep track of where his desserts are at on the enjoyment scale by asking his customers how they feel about certain things on the menu, both new and old.
“The ‘Is this sweet enough?’ test is one we like to administer,” he said. Even with a fancy and plentiful selection, the products that patrons have enjoyed the most are still the old reliables.
“Oatmeal cookies and chocolate chip cookies are still our hottest sellers,” he said. “Any chocolate is popular, as well as our bundt cakes. So many people grow up without home-baked goods, or have only had them from the grocery store. But once you have one of these cookies with real butter in it, there’s no comparison.
“It really makes me happy when people come in here, and they are reminded of something that they may have had in their youth or in their past,” he said.