Bake Ability, a savory and sweet specialties bakery, will be serving daily baked goods, baked by individuals with different abilities who will be mentored by professionals.
Unemployment within the intellectual disability community is significantly higher than the national average. Bake Ability affords individuals opportunities to learn a trade, grow and serve the community in the baking industry.
These community members are loyal, dedicated, and hard working. This will give them an opportunity to showcase how productive they can be and what an asset they are to any community.
Our items are crafted by hand, with patience and with love. We use techniques to ensure the highest quality. Our goal is to make your taste buds happy!
Even if you are simply looking for a sweet ending to an everyday meal, we are sure to have something freshly baked to suit your mood.
by Diana Cercone
Bucks County is known for its many attractions. High on the list are its destination-worthy bakeries. They not only get us going in the morning with their freshly brewed coffees and tantalizing scones and muffins, but they also sweeten our daytime snacks and after-dinner desserts as well as delight our host or hostess when we arrive carrying a bakery box holding a pie, cake or assorted cookies. Still, there’s always room for another bakery that aims to please.
And that’s just what Bake Ability, located in the Buckingham Green Shopping Center in Buckingham, does. Saying it all is Bake Ability’s tagline, “A Sweet & Savory Bakery.”
Not surprising it opened near Valentine’s Day last February. For Bake Ability is, indeed, a labor of love. Beginning with its owner, Paula Fasciano of Pipersville, to Bake Ability’s staff and volunteers. A bit of love is rolled into everything they bake—and do.
Some of Bake Ability’s specialties and popular items include marble brownies with chocolate buttercream icing (a now favorite of mine), lemon bars (I’ll get to these later), peanut butter bars, scones, muffins and egg-white frittata muffins. Another customer favorite is The Magic Ability Bar, which has a handmade graham cracker crust, a sweet creamy center and is topped with chocolate chips, coconut flakes and chopped walnuts. As it bakes, Paula says, it all gets melded together, becoming deliciously “gooey.”
Regular bakery items include cupcakes and cookies, with some iced cookies and cupcakes varying according to season or holiday. Seasonal specialties also feature into the mix. For example, right now Paula says, Bake Ability’s “mini-pumpkin loaf is very popular.” And for special celebrations, Bake Ability creates party trays of some if its popular items cut into bite-size pieces. Perfect for holiday entertaining.
Then there are Bake Ability’s pizzettes (little pizzas). Atop cloud-soft baked dough is either red pizza sauce, oregano and parmesan cheese (red pizzette) or creamy ricotta cheese and basil (white pizzette). These are both a tribute to the memories Paula has of summers spent in Italy with her family and, later, of making them for her own family when her two sons were young. In Italy, Paula says, pizzettes are common breakfast items at local bars serving espresso and caffe. At Bake Ability, however, customers prefer the pizzettes for lunch. For breakfast, she says, customers choose scones and muffins.
The impetus for the bakery came about when Paula’s older son Matthew turned 21 and in need of steady employment. With that birthday, Matthew was aging out of the Workplace Training Program he was enrolled in at the time. At age two, Matthew had been diagnosed with Fragile X Syndrome, a genetic disorder characterized by mild-to-moderate intellectual disability. Paula and her husband’s younger son Benjamin were also diagnosed with Fragile X Syndrome. But it was while Benjamin was in 10th grade at Central Bucks West in 2018 that she says she met this “terrific group of moms [who have differently abled children] and we would get together to come up with ideas about how we could get our children meaningful jobs.”
At first, she says, they had thought of buying a bus or van to drive their children to various jobs. But then, the bakery in Buckingham Green Shopping Center came up for sale. It seemed like it was meant to be.
With guidance from TNS (The Next Step, a local non-profit that runs programs for the differently abled), Paula and the other parents felt confident to open Bake Ability. “TNS makes sure our recipes, policies and procedures are employee friendly.” One of her hopes, Paula says, “is to hire a full-time coach so parents wouldn’t always have to be present as we become more established.”
Bake Ability has 17 staff members, ranging in age from 18 to 61. Working alongside them as volunteers are their parents and three volunteers from the community who believe in them and just want to help. Though most are moms, there is one dad, Mike, who according to Paula is turning into “quite the baker.” In addition, “he and his daughter Cierra, 22, were integral in setting up Bake Ability at the Warrington Farmers Market each time we were there,” she says.
On a recent Sunday morning, despite a chilling rain, I drove to Bake Ability and parked in front just as two of its customers walked out, each clutching a bakery box or bag in hopes of protecting them from the drizzle. As I opened Bake Ability’s front door, tantalizing aromas wafted from its kitchen. I knew immediately that’s where all the “sweet & savory magic” happens.
The inside of the bakery is bright and cheery. Manning the counter this day is Caitlin, 27. She tells me her favorite is the chocolate cupcake. In keeping with the season, its icing is topped with fall colors of orange, cream and green. Like Bake Ability’s chocolate marble brownie, the cupcake is rich with a fudgie chocolate, moist and with just the right density to please my palate.
I leave that day with also a lemon bar, a cranberry scone and a Bake Ability hot/cold travel mug with its own stainless steel forever straw (Simply the best mug I’ve had).
Back home I carefully cut the generous-sized rectangle lemon bar in half, saving the second half for tomorrow. But as I bite into the first half, generously sprinkled with confectioner’s sugar, the filling oozing with fresh lemon custard atop a lovely cookie-like graham cracker crust, I eye the other half. It never made it to the next day.
On an earlier visit, Cara, 21, is at the cash register and as I enter she greets me with a warming smile and says, “Hello. Welcome to Bake Ability. How can I help you?” Checking out the bakery case, I order both a red and a white pizzette and a chocolate marble brownie.
Finding meaningful work for the differently abled is very hard, Paula says. “Sometimes employers don’t understand how valuable this population can be. They are loyal, dedicated and hard-working. They might need more mentoring or training initially, but the investment would be worth it.”
Sean Rush, a loyal customer agrees. In the YouTube video posted on Bake Ability’s website (www.bakeabilities.com), Sean says, “I love that the employees here are being able to be productive and reaching out and the community needs to partner up as much as possible and all work together.”
To that end, Paula has a goal of expanding her business model of employment for those with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD). This time she says, it would be a non-profit. “I don’t want to jinx myself, but it would have nothing to do with food.” As a non-profit, she says, they could hold fundraisers to expand the vision behind the model for Bake Ability. The end goal would be to establish an Ability Foundation.
Included in that vision is a residential housing unit above retail shops where they could live, enjoy being part of a community and where they could work in the shops below. It would not only empower them, but also, it would be making a valuable contribution to the area’s surrounding community.
Oh, yes, one thing more: When you go to Bake Ability, I guarantee, like it says on their welcoming sign outside, you’ll “Have a delicious day!”
Bake Ability is located in the Buckingham Green Shopping Center, 4950 York Road in Buckingham; 215-315-8560; www.bakeabilities.com; email@example.com. Open Wednesday through Sunday, 8 a.m.-3 p.m.
Diana Cercone is an area freelance writer who specializes in food, art and travel.
Bake Ability was thrilled to be featured in the Winter 21-22 edition of Bucks County Life Magazine. Thanks to writer Diana Cercone.
We look forward to seeing you in store 8/24!!!!