EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the second of two columns from chef Krista Kern Desjarlais, owner of Bresca & the Honey Bee in New Gloucester and The Purple House in North Yarmouth, which opened Dec. 28. Bread and Butter is an occasional chef-written series we publish in Food & Dining.

I wake at 4:30 a.m. and silently glide through my chilly house, not even pausing to slide up the shade as the impending dawn has yet to raise an eyelid in this wee hour of morning. My dog, who normally follows me out of bed, has thought better of it today. She wags her tail briefly, then falls back to sleep with a soft huff. My two cats lie curled up in a chair in my office, merely perking up their ears as I pass through on the way to the kitchen.

As usual, I cannot force myself to sit down, so I eat my breakfast while standing in front of my kitchen sink. Unusually, I have to force myself to eat at all – a bowl of granola and some juice.

I am readying myself for what will be the first day that my new restaurant, The Purple House, will be open to the public.

A baker’s life can be a lonely one. Bakers push against normal sleep patterns and often work alone and in silence in the hours before dawn. But it is a life that suits me, apparently, as I have come in and out of it over my long career. Like all things in our lives, baking has a rhythm. Once you find it, that rhythm can lead you into a beautiful discourse with the doughs and the oven. You can find yourself working seamlessly and producing mass volumes as a sole engineer. Today, though, as I ready the bakery for its first day, I struggle to find that rhythm.

Opening time is 7 a.m. It’s 6 a.m. now. The fire is lit and the doughs are resting. This morning I will need to finalize the savory side of the kitchen, too, not something I’ll have to do at this hour once the restaurant gets going, and also start rounds of pastries I hope to serve later in the day. Under normal circumstances, this is not a daunting task, but my nerves are on edge. And, of course, that’s when mistakes happen – like overboiling (and ruining) a batch of bagels so I need to throw them out, or knocking over my spoon bain marie (a small container that holds my sauce spoons and a bit of water), thus covering my prep sheets with a gloss of cold water and turning the fresh ink of my “to do’s” into a stream of useless, blurry black lines.


6:30 a.m. and Sean, my barista, has arrived and started the coffee, filling the air with the smell of morning. Tom and Jason soon follow. They will work the savory station and build the orders for bagel sandwiches, salads and pizza as we move through the day toward lunch.

The young men are calm and prepare their stations with ease, but I can’t shake my first-day jitters. To make things worse, the fire is lagging today, and the temperature is not yet quite up to 550 degrees, where it needs to be to create the thin crust and oven spring for the bagels.

I should have been in earlier to account for this, but waking at 4:30 a.m. was early enough for my body and brain. Any earlier, and I’d be reliving my days as the sole baker at the Sonesta Hotel in Portland, formerly the Eastland and now the Westin.

In those months, I had to arrive at work at 3:30 a.m., which meant waking at 2:30 a.m., getting dressed and running from my apartment on Park Street to the hotel to prepare and bake off all the pastries and breads for the entire hotel as well as any scheduled banquets. I was tired all the time. Really, really tired.

Krista Kern Desjarlais sweeps the steps at her new cafe, The Purple House in North Yarmouth.

Krista Kern Desjarlais sweeps the steps at her new cafe, The Purple House in North Yarmouth.

7 a.m. is fast approaching. This is it. The beginning. And I don’t have any baked goods ready!

At 7:10 a.m., I can see the handle turn and the door open. We say hello to our very first customer, an older gentleman who is bundled up against the freezing morning air. He enters quickly, smiles and asks for a menu and coffee. Sean obliges with a smile of his own, hands the man a fresh cup of drip coffee and begins the conversation of what we have to offer – later today.


There will be bagels; house-smoked and -cured fish; many spreads, toppings and finishes; pastries that will be displayed beside the cash register; and all sorts of items planned for lunch.

Baking has a rhythm, Krista Kern Desjarlais says, and once you find that rhythm, you can strike up a great partnership with dough and the oven.

Baking has a rhythm, Krista Kern Desjarlais says, and once you find that rhythm, you can strike up a great partnership with dough and the oven.

The gentleman smiles and says he’ll be back for a bagel. The clock is moving quickly now, and a few other people have noticed cars in our parking lot and are stopping in for coffee. Some of them wait until the bagels finally emerge from the oven, around 8 a.m.

Customer No. 1, the bundled-up gentleman, returns as promised and orders a traditional bagel sandwich with smoked salmon, cream cheese, tomato, onion, dill and capers, to go. Tom prepares this quickly, as Jason and I tend to more bagels that are baking in the oven. Before I can even turn my head to say thank you and goodbye, he is heading out the door. As he leaves, another new face slips in.

The sun has started to rise in earnest as I greet a few more customers and thank them for their well wishes. Its warm glow mimics that of the flames in the oven. And just like that, after many months of hard work and preparation, The Purple House is open. Day one is underway, full of hope and my quest to find my baker’s circadian rhythm, which beats against the 9 to 5 workday norm.


Recipe courtesy of chef/owner Krista Kern Desjarlais.


4 cups rolled oats

2 cups sliced almonds

1/2 cup flax seeds

1/4 cup chia seeds

1/4 cup hemp seeds

1/2 cup sunflower seeds


1/4 cup sesame seeds

1 cup coconut flakes

All organic if possible! Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper, grease the paper and set aside. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Then combine the following:

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 cup maple syrup

1 oz water


1/4 cup coconut sugar or brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Pour the combined wet ingredients over the combined dry ingredients and toss everything together to coat the oats mixture.

Spread the granola on the sheet pan. Bake, stirring often until evenly golden, for 25 to 30 minutes.

Remove and cool. Store in an airtight container.

Serve with milk of choice or over local yogurt or just toss in your mouth and enjoy!

Optional ingredient: 1 tablespoon instant ground espresso (Medaglio d’Oro brand) added to granola as it comes out of oven before it cools. Just sprinkle on and stir to combine evenly.

I don’t drink coffee anymore, but while I’m adjusting my internal clock to my new baking schedule I’ve been tempted to toss a spoon full of instant espresso in the milk I pour over my granola. Whatever works, right?

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