The aroma inside the bakery is unmistakable. Fresh ingredients. Sugar, milk, flour, spices, all combined to make traditional flan, cakes, cookies and other pastries.
Roberto’s Bakery in Twilley Center opened April 7 and is run by sisters Ilianny Abad and Jenifer Cervantes, daughters of Roberto Cervantes.
Their father, who died two years ago, was a well-known chef and pastry master who starting baking in the family’s native Guatemala and worked in restaurants including those in Rehoboth Beach. His family – five daughters and his widow – are continuing the tradition.
When the girls were growing up, they cooked with their father, watching him, learning from him, and always laughing together.
Another sister and their mother run Calderon Market in Georgetown.
Inside, Roberto’s Bakery is bright and inviting, decorated in pink and black, with flowers stenciled on the wall, a kitten in a teacup, a poster advising, “Keep calm and eat a cupcake.”
Formerly Top Notch Bakery, the business also sells sandwiches, bagels, wraps, salads and paninis and the sisters’ goal is to eventually open a restaurant.
Business hours are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day except Sunday. “That day is for God,” Abad said, pointing to the open Spanish language Bible on the counter. It’s often the first item customers notice.
Near it are a vase of yellow roses and glass container of lemonade, with fresh lemon slices floating on top.
Inside the display cases are the bakery’s signature Smith Island cakes in a variety of flavors, including Reese’s, Andes Mint, carrot, caramel mocha and lemon. The owners learned the art of baking and stacking the thin layers from a Smith Island native.
They also specialize in tres leches, cakes with real cream between the layers, cinnamon, ginger and fresh peaches or strawberries.
“We make everything fresh. Nothing is frozen. We make bread, all our own breads, and bagels. We have cupcakes and fruit tarts,” Abad said.
There are also éclairs, Neopolitans, miniature pies and turnovers.
“We use fresh fruit in our turnovers, fruits and banana cream,” Abad said. Custom cakes can be ordered by calling 443-736-4950.
The sisters are the third generation of bakers.
“It is enjoyable. You make things new every day. You see happiness in people. They might be having a bad day, then they come in and taste something and it might make them smile and they’ll say, “Mmm. It tastes, good,’” Abad said, as a steady stream of customers went into the shop.
Their father was a pleasant man, always in a good mood, joking, making up names for the tools of his craft, calling the spatula “the miserable.”
Abad and Cervantes laughed as they talked about him and remembered his most valuable lesson, “to be kind and respectful to everyone.”
“He taught us you got to love what you do. Without love nothing is possible,” Cervantes said.
“He was always putting his touch on everything, making everything his way, mixing and making different things,” she said.
Abad called him “innovative.”
“I never saw him mad. He was always fun, even in bad times,” Cervantes added.
Keeping with tradition, they are pleasant to customers, who are drawn to the bakery, Abad said, “for the flavor.”
“You can taste everything is fresh,” she said.
“They get so impressed by that,” Cervantes said. “They love that we make everything right here and that everything is fresh.”
Reach Susan Canfora at email@example.com.