The Big Sandy Mountaineer -

New Business in town: Black Granary Handcrafted


January 27, 2021

The first time I ate one of Mary Merrill's baking creations was at her wedding. She wanted to make her wedding cake along with a variety of decadent desserts. I discouraged her, but she insisted anyway. She found herself completing her cake the morning of the wedding. So I am excited to announce you'll all be able to taste her skill at creating delicious pastries now. Black Granary Handcrafted is a custom order pastry and bakery shop. Mary offers a wide variety of handcrafted small-batch pastries, desserts, cakes, cupcakes, and various bread. She said, "I currently am using the kitchen space in the Bear Paw Coffee Shop and Deli building" Customers can park in the front and come to the side door, on the east side of the building, to pick up their orders. To make an order, customers can call 406-399-0996, email, text or message me via social media Facebook under black granary handcrafted page and Instagram page is @handcraftedbyblackgranary. You can also set a time and place to pick up your pastries. There is a menu on her Facebook and Instagram pages, and as soon as she gets her website operational, she will also have a full list of everything that she offers. The website will also eventually have the option for customers to place an order online and schedule a date and time for pickup."

Mary started baking in earnest when she was very little. Her earliest memories in the kitchen was when she was two, helping her mom make crepes. "What I remember clearest, though, was eagerly pressing the START button on the blender that was full of the milk, eggs, flour, etc., before my mom had had a chance to put the lid on and ending up with crepe batter on every surface of the kitchen. Somehow mom never uttered a curse word. She is a better woman than I."

"Baking is an extended family thing. My mother's side is Danish, and we all cooked/baked like butter was about to become extinct. I continue with that philosophy, actually, and use only high-quality butter in all of my goods. Baking and recipe development was something that my closest cousin and I did for fun, any chance that we could get. To this day, I lean on her for difficult recipe questions, thoughts, and freakishly scientific discussions on our baking failures. I still have recipes that I use and use in my bakery that she and I developed as kids. Keep watch out for some decadent chocolate marshmallow cookies. We created them when we were in Jr High as a way to soothe our angst over the closure of our favorite cookie shop in the Vancouver Mall. "

"I have dreamt of owning my own pastry shop/bakery since I was little, although I never thought to take that dream seriously until this past summer. I was driving the combine for the umpteenth day in a row, about 30 stale granola bars in, and listening to a podcast on the food of some sort. I realized that I am always contemplating the next decadent dessert or pastry that I will make, no matter what other jobs I am working. As farmers, my husband and I have extensive conversations on value-added agriculture and how we could apply it to all the products we produce. By the end of the harvest season, I had come to terms with both the fact that I needed and wanted to be baking, perfecting my craft and making people happy with melt in your mouth pastries, and that we needed to stop talking about using our wheat in my products and start doing so. I know it's a term that has been overused, but it is important not to forget the community and economic benefit of sourcing food ingredients from as close as possible. We grow and raise incredible grains and meat here. Why not use them? I am currently using organic flour grown here in the golden triangle for my croissants. I use locally grown Kamut flour in other products. I am working on purchasing and using locally raised pork for my ham and Swiss croissants and sausage cheddar croissants. Eventually, I will add the specific wheat variety I need for my pastries to our cropping rotation, but until then, I have access to great flour through Montana Flour and Grains out of Fort Benton."

Are you going to have a storefront? "Maybe in time. Someday we would like to have an open bakery, but we are just planning to use this as a commercial space for custom orders at present. It also depends on how many orders come in and what the owner of the building will be doing in the future."

Mary will be working around her priorities. She will be tailoring her time around the things she still has to do as a mom, including her children's activities, as well as operating a farm with her husband.

Mary's favorite items to bake are cakes, pies, and tarts-and anything that shows fun flavor creations. "I love it when someone wants to try something new!" She loves to experiment with flavor combinations. "When I make custom cakes, I like making pretty cakes, but I also want a cake to taste even better than it looks"

Mary is now making bread, mainly because she couldn't get what she likes to eat here. She uses the traditional European croissant method, which takes three days to make and bake. The first day is to make the pre-dough. The next day she laminates the dough with the block of butter that she made beforehand. Mary special orders European butter because it has a higher fat content. Laminating means she rolls out the dough, places butter on the surface, folds it together, and repeats the process over and over before she chills it. It takes 4-6 hours to laminate the croissant. The dough stays in the refrigerator overnight before she bakes them the next day. "I defiantly need a four-day notice (when people are ordering).

A croissant is Austrian, not French. It is named for its crescent shape. It can be dated to at least 1839 (some say 1838) when an Austrian artillery officer, August Zang, founded a Viennese bakery at 92 in Paris. National Croissant Day is January 30th. Time to order some Croissants.

Mary creates and bakes the experiences she has had--vacations, trips, and unique eating experiences. She would like to bake something from your experiences. "I would love to try that!" She'll have no problem telling you if it's beyond her ability.


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