Unfortunately, this will be Baker Bill’s final article in The Beltsville News—written by his children Steve, Wendy, and Jane. Baker Bill passed away on Thanksgiving morning from complications following a stroke. To honor his memory, his love for the Beltsville community, and the many followers of The Beltsville News, we are writing a final article to pay tribute to our dad.
Baker Bill opened shop in Beltsville in 1964. The bakery was the first store open in the Chestnut Hills Shopping Center, and the first store burglarized that night. The empty cavity next door (Neil’s Cleaners) made for easy access for someone breaking through a layer of drywall separating the stores, making a mess of the bakery, and stealing about $30 in change. The bakery survived, the landlord sealed the cavity, and the community of Beltsville supported the bakery with open arms for over 50 years and counting!
When your father owns a bakery, you become an employee as soon as you are tall enough to see over the counter with a little step stool behind the register so you could ring up sales. We all worked in various roles throughout the years as store clerks, cake decorators, bakers—and of course—workers on the dreaded scullery duties. Some of the fondest memories of the bakery revolved around the holidays, working around the clock to make sure everything was fresh for the holiday dinner table. For Thanksgiving alone, Raulin’s made an average of 700 assorted pies and 12,000 dinner rolls for the holiday feast. Christmastime was more cookie intensive, making thousands of handmade stars, bells, Christmas trees, and Santa almond cutout cookies, along with thousands of butter tea cookies packaged nicely for quick sales.
In 1980, Baker Bill wanted to try something new and sold the bakery to me, Steve. I had just graduated from the University of Maryland and brought in a partner to help share the responsibility of owning a small business. Larry was a marketing expert, opened new doors to the effects of proper advertising, and was a great support person when the bakery needed some labor assistance. However, Larry’s calling was in Southern California, so after several years, he left to pursue other sunny dreams. With the help of my sister Jane, who designed a new store layout and color theme; my sister Wendy, who developed a web presence; and my wonderful wife, Kenzie, who designed the logo and all the graphics; we took the bakery to a whole new level.
My absolute favorite memory of the bakery was each year on Thanksgiving Day when I would invite family and friends to experience the everyday life of a baker. Starting at 5:30 am, we made doughnuts, pastries, rolls, and a few pies, then opened for business to sell the products. All the kids worked the register, collecting donations for the products sold, and everyone who helped got to take home anything that was left. After closing, we all went down to Wells Ice Rink and played a fun game of broomball. To this day, everyone who participated being a “baker for a day” said it was one of the best experiences they have ever had.
On a personal note, our dad, Baker Bill suffered a massive stroke to the left side of his brain, which affected his speech, his movement on the right side of his body, and his ability to swallow. After three days in the hospital, dad was able to regain some movement in his right arm and incoherently mumble a few words, but he still couldn’t swallow anything. The doctor approached us and said the only way to keep him alive was to insert a feeding tube and that he would probably remain bedridden for the rest of his life. Our dad had the foresight to write out advance directives (a living will) that specified his wishes if he was unable to communicate them. In his advance directives, he absolutely did not want to remain alive using a feeding tube, and this one wish made our tough decision easier. Dad passed away peacefully on Thanksgiving morning and was buried with full military honors at the Maryland Veterans Cemetery. Life offers no guarantees, and I urge every parent, no matter your age, to go online and complete a free advance directive form. Be sure to make several copies, give a copy to each of your adult children, keep one for yourself, and finally, give one to your healthcare provider. It can make tough emotional decisions bearable for your love ones.
Baker Bill had a unique style of sharing his thoughts in The Beltsville News. He truly enjoyed writing for each of you every month and looked forward to receiving feedback and questions. His website, www.bakerbill.net, will forever be up and running with all of his recipes, directions, and tips, and we will update it periodically with new recipes and information as well.
Closing phrase of the month: Take a chance! All life is a chance. The man who goes farthest is generally the one who is willing to do and dare! —Dale Carnegie
Let’s send you off with one final recipe:
Baker Bill’s Holiday Pumpkin Pie!
Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees, place oven shelf in the middle
Gather your stuff:
Large bowl with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula
1 – ready-made pie crust (Pillsbury or Trader Joe’s)
1 – large pie pan (9” or 10”)
1 – 15oz can of Libbey’s pumpkin puree
¾ cups of granulated sugar
1 teaspoon corn starch
1 tablespoon of pumpkin spice (McCormick/Trader Joe’s)
½ teaspoon salt
2 large eggs plus 1 egg yolk
Prepare the pie crust in the pan and crimp the edges.
In the large bowl, add:
1 – 15oz can of pumpkin puree (scrape the can well)
¾ cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch sprinkled on top of the granulated sugar
1 tablespoon of pumpkin spice
½ teaspoon of fine salt
Hand mix until well blended and smooth.
Add: slowly mix the “fork-whisked” eggs until well blended
Add: slowly mix 1¼ cups of either half and half or whole milk until well blended. Mixture should be slightly thicker than water.
Baking Instructions: The Hard Part!
Fill pie shell ½ full and slowly transfer to preheated oven
With remaining filling, pour into a glass and fill the pie to the brim
Bake at 375 for 55-60 minutes
Pie will be done when you slightly lift the pie edge and the center is firm.
Continue to bake at 5-minute intervals until center is firm.