If there is one thing obvious about Kathy Goonan, it’s that her work ethic is unparalleled.
It takes a special kind of person to stand in a small kitchen with no air conditioning on a 99-degree day, only made hotter by an oven that never gets a rest, and fall into a routine of rolling dough, adding filling, slicing butter, pinching crusts. She works a 20-hour day at least once a week making pies, breads, cupcakes and more, and she has nary a complaint as she surveys the operation that makes up her small business, Log Cabin Bakers.
“Friends always say ‘Why don’t you get a commercial oven? Do you know how many pies you could make?’ but I don’t want it to feel like work. I don’t want it to be a chore. I want to still love it,” she says.
Goonan is the CEO, marketing director, sole baker and only employee of Log Cabin Bakers, named for the actual log cabin where she and her husband live in Plymouth. She started the business six years ago, born out of a love of baking she imagines she inherited from her mother and paternal grandmother, who immigrated to the United States from the Czech Republic.
“She was the baker and she was the cook. She could make all kinds of ethnic strudels and pies and fancy cookies at Christmas,” Goonan said. “My dad got spoiled and loved to have a pie or a sweet after dinner, and my mom started making them too.”
Where her love of baking comes from is obvious, and Goonan also inherited an appreciation for all things local. Her grandparents had an extensive garden complete with 75 or more blueberry bushes and even the produce they didn’t grow themselves was always locally and seasonally sourced from others nearby. So when she started selling her own homemade pastries, she knew quality of ingredients was one thing she wouldn’t sacrifice.
“My family was eating local before eating local was really the thing to do,” she said. “I think the whole baked-from-scratch, locally-sourced goods is a huge draw.”
It was six years ago that Goonan launched her baking business, but she’d been baking various things for family members for years. She said her husband was constantly saying to her, ‘You could sell this,’ and she entered the Plymouth Farmers Market’s pie baking contest in 2014. She didn’t win, but formed a relationship with the market manager, who pushed her to start Log Cabin Bakers.
These days, Goonan can sell 70 pies, hand pies and breads at a single market, along with dozens of gingerbread-lemon whoopie pies, Theresa’s Cupcakes (a nod to her mom) and browniez – the spelling is because they’re made with zucchini. Her flavors are seasonal and include things such as strawberry-rhubarb, mixed berry, peach and blueberry. Her hand pies also come in savory flavors including spinach and seasonal veggie, and she sells cranberry, zucchini and basil cheese breads.
It’s obvious Goonan knows what she’s doing when it comes to baking. On a recent afternoon in her kitchen, she can hold a conversation without missing a beat as she cuts, rolls and pinches dough, mixes filling and juggles goods in and out of the oven. Despite her long, hot days and constant time in the kitchen, she still loves to cook for her self and her family. If it ever feels like a chore, she says, she’ll have to call it quits.
“The things I make are very homey. They’re thing your mother or grandmother would make, because I am a mother and a grandmother,” she said. “It’s not fancy, but its delicious and people respond to it.”
Goonan sells her goods weekly at the Plymouth Farmers Market and does a limited amount of orders for customers.
Photos in this post were taken by the wonderfully talented Lauren Owens Lambert. They were originally published in The Patriot Ledger.