NORTH ANDOVER (CBS) – Mills along the Merrimack River established North Andover as a leading manufacturer of textiles in the 1800’s. Famous residents include Samuel Osgood, the first Postmaster General of the United States, and actor James Spader.
It’s also home to one of the most famous treats to come out of a Bundt pan: Boston Coffee Cake.
The company was born back in the early 1990’s when Mark Forman and his brother started baking by using their grandmother’s recipe for cinnamon walnut coffee cake.
“I think the first week we baked around 200 cakes and it took us all week,” Forman told WBZ-TV. They piled the cakes into cars and started selling them out of their trunks.
“We are fortunate that people really love the recipe and now 27 years later, we’re baking 15,000 cakes in a day,” Forman said.
The business started in a bakery in Woburn, then moved to Haverhill. Ten years ago Boston Coffee Cake merged with Bake’n’Joy in North Andover, run by the Ogan family since the 1940’s.
There are now several different flavors and sizes, but during WBZ’s visit they were making Nana’s original recipe, which is still their best seller.
It all starts on a production line, with thousands of Bundt pans that look like they came from your grandmother’s kitchen. They are loaded onto a conveyor belt where the first layer of sour cream batter is added. Then comes a generous sprinkling of a cinnamon, sugar and walnut mixture. Another layer of batter is added and then more of the cinnamon, sugar and walnut mixture tops it off.
Then the pans all move toward the massive oven where they are baked until they are golden brown.
The cakes then do a lap around the bakery on a conveyor belt to cool down. Then comes the tricky part – each of the 15,000 Bundt cakes are turned out by hand, one at a time.
“If you don’t keep up, you can see what is going to happen,” Forman said, praising the two workers carefully turning out the cakes without missing a beat. It’s reminiscent of the classic “I Love Lucy” episode when Lucy and Ethel end up eating all the chocolates because they can’t keep up with the production line.
The cakes travel to the packaging room, where they get one final inspection before being shipped out to grocery stores and hotels across the country.
Forman’s grandmother, Nana Cluck, as she was known, was in her 90’s when she handed over the recipe.
“I think she would be very proud of Boston Coffee Cake today,” he said.