COPPERAS COVE — Heidi’s German Bakery isn’t a big place, and it doesn’t have a large staff. But with near nonstop baking the cozy shop will turn out more than 10,000 cookies, plus cakes, pastries, pies and other various Christmas-themed specialties this yuletide season — and that’s in addition to the standard fare of breads, cheesecakes and other baked goods regularly offered.
On a weekday morning the bakery is a study in perpetual motion, with longtime German-born employee Carola Learn taking phone orders, wrapping platters full of freshly baked cookies and handling walk-in customers. Owner and master baker Ralph Spriggs is at home catching some much-needed sleep, while his mother, Margit, cuts cake portions and artfully arranges delicacies on serving plates.
“We’ve been baking like there’s no tomorrow,” said Margit Spriggs, with the lingering hint of a German accent. Spriggs, also born in Germany, has worked in the food service industry for 40 years and moves about the bakery with authority and sureness. “One of our customers came in this morning and bought eleven platters of Christmas cookies — it’s a challenge to keep up.”
At prices that range from $6 to $50, the Christmas platters are a top seller, Spriggs said. “The most popular are those that sell for $15 to $18 each.”
The signature German recipes are what make Heidi’s unique and worth the trip to Copperas Cove’s Town Square Center, according to the bakery’s repeat customers.
“My husband and I lived in Germany for 15 years,” said Beverly Metcalf, from Copperas Cove.
“We love the authentic texture and flavor of the pastries and the items they have here — you can’t find them anywhere else.”
The from-scratch specialties include Linzer, which deceptively appears to be a chocolate sheath cake, but actually has a scrumptious filling of hazelnut and raspberry jam inside the light chocolate cake interior.
Plus, it’s covered with Heidi’s fudgelike icing.
Then there’s Stollen, the traditional German fruitcake; Lebkuchen, similar to a ginger cookie, made with spices imported from Germany and containing a wafer in its base.
The Spitzbuben, another on Heidi’s hit list, is a two-part butter cookie: with a raspberry pudding for filling, it’s dusted with powdered sugar and tastes “awesome,” Spriggs noted.
This is a bakery that even makes its own cream cheese and cheerfully admits that “butter is the secret.”
Authentic ingredients are imported, since “you just can’t find the right stuff unless you ship it over from Europe,” and traditional recipes are faithfully adhered to.
Margit Spriggs allows that it’s a family affair, especially during the Christmas season. “I told Ralph last year: ‘Mama’s gonna retire.’” But the festive holiday season lured her back, she said. “It’s hard work, but rewarding, too. I guess I’ll die before I’ll retire.”