By Krin Mims
In the past year I’ve started to really care about what I put in my body and provided for my friends and family. In an effort to make “cleaner” choices, I’ve started trying out vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free items, and I’ve recognized the absence of some ingredients isn’t such a crazy idea.
I first heard about Silke’s Old World Breads when I saw a picture of the most decadent piece of cake on Facebook, and I was instantly intrigued. It wasn’t until I visited that I learned about the owner of Silke’s passion to feed her customers healthy, great-tasting baked goods made with organically grown grains, no preservatives, additives or artificial ingredients.
Located just outside downtown Clarksville, Silke’s has two separate concepts situated in a restored warehouse building. We entered the bakery first and got a brief rundown from Annemarie. She explained that everything is baked fresh each day with one exception: The bakers take Tuesday evenings off and sell “day-old” bread at 20 percent off on Wednesdays.
Gluten-free items are available by ordering in advance. They offer many bread variations — rolls, loafs, sourdoughs, yeasted, rye, sweet and the list goes on. They even offer to slice it for you! In addition, the bakery has stunning cakes and pastries to make your head spin.
German meats and gourmet cheeses are also sold here and freshly sliced for you to take home. Annemarie put together a great assortment of twisted cheese sticks, cheese Danish, vegan lemon cake and an apricot pinwheel.
The smell in the bakery was sensational — small tables and chairs were set around the room with more on the porch. The room was small and intimate but served its purpose well. From here, we walked down to the bottom of the parking lot, following signs to the deli. This room is long and narrow, split with tables and a children’s play area on one end and an open-style kitchen and ordering counter at the other.
We arrived just before noon and there was already a line. It moved quickly, and as I got closer to the front, I saw a large, glass case that displayed huge cakes, cupcakes, cheesecake and other goodies.
While waiting in line, I watched with fascination as the ladies built pizzas, sandwiches and more from scratch. The menu was large and had options showing Silke’s German heritage along with soups, salads, sandwiches and pizzas. Many of the offerings were gluten free, vegan and vegetarian, but meat-lovers can breathe a sigh of relief with their many carnivorous favorites.
We decided on the vegetarian pizza, herbed turkey sandwich with German potato salad, bratwurst brotchen with sauerkraut, a grilled cheese for our smallest diner, a vegan chocolate cupcake with peanut butter icing and a giant slab of the gluten-free, peach-almond cake. Marin took our order and was a great help, even giving my friend’s child a freshly baked lady finger cookie.
After ordering, we took our place at a clean table and took in the eclectic atmosphere. The children’s area is full of fun toys and seemed well organized. There were plenty of tables and chairs available, even during their lunch rush, and several more outside on the walkway.
We had our food in just a few minutes and everything looked outstanding. We loved the toasted artisan bread on both the sandwiches. The vegetarian pizza was piled with artichokes, onions, peppers and three types of olives, and they certainly don’t skimp on the cheese.
The vegan German potato salad, as Marin explained, is made with a vinegar base instead of mayonnaise. It had an appropriate bite from the vinegar, but I also got a softer sweet note.
My husband, the Bratwurst connoisseur, gave an emphatic thumbs-up on the Brat and sauerkraut, saying it was one of the best he’d ever had.
Had I not read the sign describing the cupcake as vegan or the cake as gluten free, I would have never known. The cupcake probably weighed a pound. It was rich, moist and dense while still seeming fluffy. It was deeply chocolate with the smoothest and most flavorful peanut butter icing I’ve ever had. Tiny chocolate chips adorned the top, and in the end, we ordered another to take home.
The peach-almond cake was light and fluffy and had great balance of flavor. There was at least a cup of fresh whipped cream on our slice alone. Silke’s offers full cakes with 24 hours’ notice.
Although we didn’t order any, I saw several cups of coffee going out to guests, and I look forward to having one of their specialty coffees during my next visit.
We took our pastries home and enjoyed them throughout the weekend. Following their directions, everything stayed fresh and flaky. Our favorite stand-out was the lemon cake. It had a powerful tang and sweetness balanced so well.
I’m looking forward to visiting Silke’s Old World Breads again and can’t wait to place orders for upcoming showers, birthdays and events.
Be sure to try:
Bakery items change all the time at Silke’s, often based on the availability of the fresh ingredients. I think the chocolate peanut butter cupcake and the lemon cake stood out the most to us.
My husband is anxious to get back and try the other German
Try it at home: Flour alternatives
I’m not a great baker and I don’t do it very often, but I’ve enjoyed experimenting with different types of flours this year in an effort to eliminate some of the gluten we were consuming. Most times, my husband doesn’t know I’ve substituted almond, coconut or rice flour for the white, processed stuff. It’s been fun learning their properties and finding out the right combinations to recreate some of our favorite meals. It may seem like a small challenge, but knowing exactly what we’re putting in our bodies has been enlightening for us. You can bake breads, cakes, crust, chicken fingers and more with these alternatives.
Silke’s Old World Breads
Cuisine: German, bakery
Location: 1214 A-B College St., Clarksville