Fresh from the oven

It takes a special effort and a love of freshly baked goods for restaurant owners to bake their own, but that's what Dennis and Lynn Wong offer at their newest venture. Fresh-from-the-oven cinnamon rolls, muffins and focaccia bread are just a few of the baked goods you'll find at the Zumbro River Cafe in Rochester.

Opened six months ago, the cafe is next to Dunn Bros Coffee on Elton Hills Drive, which the Wongs also own and operate.

"Doing our own baking here grew out of what we were offering at Dunn Bros — the scones, muffins and various sweet rolls as well as desserts," Dennis Wong says. "Since we have a full kitchen here, we decided to do our own baking to offer more of a variety to customers."

Wong is committed to offering products that are made with local, organic ingredients. Many of his ingredients such as flour, sugar and spices are from The Wedge Co-op, a Twin Cities retailer that specializes in whole and natural foods.

Wong and his staff bake at least 20 different items every day, including scones, sweet rolls, cookies, donuts and butter rolls as well as quick breads and muffins.


"I like to go with seasonal flavors, so we are doing some pumpkin-based items right now, like pumpkin bread," Wong says.

His homemade desserts include bread pudding, apple crisp, cheesecake and a specialty of the house, a Chai carrot cake. "We use the Chai tea seasonings as a flavoring, which makes it unique," he says.

Another favorite is a seven-layer Kona bar.

The system of baking at the cafe is fairly methodical. A baker arrives early in the morning and starts with the breakfast items, then moves on to the other items such as quiche, biscuits and desserts. Wong and other staff members arrive throughout the day to assist.

Wong says he is pleased with how the kitchen staff works together.

"They are all older and have had years of experience," he says. "They do not need to be taught or trained — they know what to do."

One of Wong's goals was to offer baked goods that would complement both the variety of coffees and teas served at Dunn Bros., as well as what is served in the cafe.

"Rochester has so many good restaurants (that) what we hope to do is fill the niche of an up-scale coffee shop specializing in more home-style comfort foods, like pot roast," he says.

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