Happy Fish Bakery

By Mary Blair Petiet / Photography By Mary Blair Petiet | May 01, 2015
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Emily Burbank and Roslyn Burbank
Emily Burbank, baker/owner of Happy Fish Bakery, and her mother/business manager Roslyn Burbank

The first thing that hits you upon entering the Happy Fish Bakery on Route 6A in Yarmouthport is the aroma. The air swirls with the warm scent of delicious baking, enveloping you as your mouth begins to water.

The second thing you notice is the aroma’s source: the beautiful trays of pastries that rival the European baked goods that inspired them. Croissants: plain, almond and chocolate; sticky buns; and round boules of white and rye are just some of the freshly-baked selection available each morning.

“I started teaching myself to bake four and a half years ago while I was a student at Mass. Maritime. Baking is a hobby, almost a fluke,” said Emily Burbank, the creator of all the deliciousness, from the sunny front counter at Happy Fish.

Almond Croissants
Cape Levain
Photo 1: almond croissants
Photo 2: Cape levain

While Emily bakes, her mother, Roslyn Burbank, manages the business end of things and her dad, Dan Burbank, acts as financial backer and ultimate fixer-upper. This is a true family business founded by people who really wanted to be on Cape. The senior Burbanks are ex-Coast Guard, and once they had served here, they wanted to return. The family has been local since 2005 and they live close by their bakery, savoring the small town feel.

“The more I started cooking, the more I stared looking for breads. I learned how to make it myself and two years into it I realized I wanted to make a job out of it,” Emily said.

When the building that houses Happy Fish, the former Peach Tree Design, came on the market, Roslyn took it as a sign. They had always loved the space, so they took the leap, and instead of pursuing an apprenticeship, Emily went right into business.

“Emily is passionate about baking,” her mother said, “it’s rare to know your passion so young.”

“I’m building upon traditional recipes. I want to respect the tradition and find newer ways to present the product, coming as close as I can to an ideal transition between old and new techniques. Being self-taught means my recipes are unique,” Emily said of her artistry.

The finished product combines traditions. There is a lot of French, a little Italian, and some American. Emily is proud to be a part of the baker’s renaissance that has been saving us all from bad bread for the last thirty years, as traditional slow-made breads have become more and more mainstream.

Her ingredients are basic. “High-fat European-style Cabot butter, eggs sourced regionally, and King Arthur flour,” she said. She plans to increase organic ingredients over time. She bakes from both wheat and rye starters, using both for bread and only the wheat for pastries.

Chocolate Croissants
chocolate croissants

Emily’s day starts at 3:00 a.m., when she mixes the dough. By breakfast time she will have created the bread and pastries to fill her shelves. Her days can last twelve hours, four days a week with a fifth day for prep.

“Baking is very intuitive. People say it’s a science, but I think it’s a perfect blend of art and science. You need your intuition. It’s really trial and error,” she said.

And there really is a happy fish. Emily collects antique French molds and her very first one was a chocolate mold shaped like a smiling fish. The smiling fish refers to the French children’s tradition of attempting to adhere a paper fish to their friends’ backs on April first. The discovery of the attached fish is followed by the shout, “Poisson d’Avril! (April Fish!)”

Happy Fish Bakery
173 Route 6A, Yarmouthport
774-994-8272

Open Thursday-Saturday 8:30 AM-4:00 PM
Sunday 8:30 AM-3:00 PM until the first Wednesday in June
Summer hours: Wednesday-Saturday 8:00 AM-4:00 PM
Sunday 8:00 AM-3:00 PM

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