When you enter Belltower Coffeehouse, you smell fresh coffee and baked goods like scones, cookies and banana bread.
If you come on a Monday or Wednesday and glimpse into the kitchen, you may also see baker Stacy Hinkle, who works at the coffeehouse twice a week. But baking is not her only job. She also works part-time as a nurse, doing paperwork at home for a doctor at the Methodist North Hospital in Memphis.
“I always loved to bake,” Hinkle says.
Hinkle knew Belltower owner Christopher Galbreath, as they are in the same parish.
“First we went over to Stacy’s house where she baked lots of samples. And I told her what I like and what I don’t like”, 24-year-old owner Galbreath said.
And that’s how her relationship with the coffeehouse started.
Belltower opened in 2016, and for the first three years, Hinkle had to rent a kitchen and move all the ingredients in and out every time she baked. But after being closed for four-months last year closure due to the pandemic, Belltower moved to its larger location on the Highland strip last August, where it sits today. The biggest advantage? “I have an industrial kitchen now,” Hinkle said.
In the beginning, Hinkle baked just about a dozen items per week. Now she bakes more than 120. Depending on the season, she prepares between 10 and 13 different types of scones, cookies, or bars. “For the future, we think about hiring an assistant baker to bake daily,” Galbreath explained.
The coffeehouse’s signature delight and most sold item is Hinkle’s blueberry and lemon scone.
“It’s easy to prepare but takes some time,” she explained. “The most important thing is to have really cold butter.”
Hinkle grates the butter after it’s been in the freezer for several hours, so it’s half-frozen. When she started, she had to do it by hand. Today, a machine does the job within a few seconds. After adding grated lemon zest, cream, flour, sugar, eggs and vanilla extract, the dough is kneaded by a machine for a few minutes. She then adds blueberries and keeps kneading before rolling the dough and cutting it into pieces.
Before the sweets go into the oven for 20-25 minutes, they are covered with cream and brown sugar. The scones are kept in the fridge, so they can be stored for a couple of days. They are soft, fluffy, and crispy and at the same time, sweet, but not too sweet. The lemon zest gives a bit of sourness and the blueberries a fruity touch.
Often, the scones are gone the day after they are made, Hinkle said.
The scone is Stacy’s favorite, but she has made and tasted so many of them that she doesn’t eat them regularly anymore. Instead, the mother of six loves to try new recipes and integrates seasonal ingredients in the baked items.
“In December, we will do a peppermint brownie and a Christmas cookie,” she explained.
She gets a lot of inspiration from Pinterest and tries the recipes at home before adding them to the Belltower menu. And the jury for new recipes is at home, but sometimes it’s not that easy.
“My husband is my best taster, but he loves everything, so sometimes I have to ask others as well,” she said, laughing.
Did she ever think about becoming a professional baker? “No,” she says and smiles.
“But I consider it.”
Baker Stacy Hinkle bakes four trays of blueberry-lemon scones at the Belltower Coffeehouse. “For me baking is a stress relief,” the baker and trained nurse said.
The blueberry muffin was one of the first items Hinkle baked at Belltower Coffeehouse at the beginning of this month. “I hired an assistant who wraps all the ingredients, so Stacy doesn’t have to do it”, owner Christopher Galbreath said.