RAVALLI – Baked goods make just about everyone smile but let’s face it, some of us are just better at it than others.
We headed to an unassuming bakery in Ravalli where one woman’s donuts have people from around the world stopping to take a bite for this Montana Made report.
Gooey glaze dripping off a hot freshly fried donut is a pretty mouth-watering sight, and it’s something you can see and taste for yourself.
If you are traveling up Highway 93 through the small community of Ravalli you’ll find the Windmill Village Bakery nestled across the railroad tracks. It’s a place that has become a must stop “on the way” destination.
”We get a lot of tourists. This corridor is pretty much the main road to everywhere that the tourists go out here in this part of Montana,” owner Nancy Martin said.
The bakery has become so popular that we showed up on a Monday when they are closed because otherwise the lines are usually out the door and that means there’s no time to talk.
Of course, things weren’t always this busy. When they finished building the bakery in 2005 they started off small.
”When I first opened the doors I did all of my baking in two toaster ovens,” Martin recalled. “So, I could fit one pan of six muffins in there, six cookies at a time and one pie.”
But it didn’t take long for customers to start asking for more. ”What about pie? or how about bread? So we just kind of expanded depending on what the customers were asking for and that’s how it evolved,” Martin said.
Four ovens, one proofer, mixers and three butterball turkey fryers later Nancy now bakes from April straight through to the end of November. Her most popular item is easily the donuts.
”The donuts have taken on a life of their own. They are probably the thing we are most known for are the donuts. It was my mother’s recipe. After we had started in here and I was trying to figure out some other varieties and things to do…I said ‘you know, I think I’m going to mom’s old donut recipe but I’ll just do it once a week. Just a few because nobody eats donuts anymore’,” Marin said.
“And then people started asking for those every day. So now, once we start and turn on the open sign in the morning that’s all we do are donuts. Everything I make other than donuts I have to have done before we flip on the open sign because it’s just constant donuts because we like to serve them fresh,” Martin continued.
The donuts are what keeps their customers coming back, both the regulars and the tourists — many of which have actually planned their stop at the bakery after hearing about it on social media.
”Social media has had a huge, huge impact because you are not just confined to the local area. It is all over. We get people that come from the East Coast, from other countries, that say we saw you on the internet and so when we decided to make this trip through here you were on our list,” Martin said.
One thing’s for sure — they won’t leave disappointed.
“It’s easy to get a little blue and down and maybe feeling like humanity is losing some of its kindness or politeness in all that. But, we don’t find that here at all,” Martin said.
“People are just wonderful when they come in here. They are happy. They have to wait for donuts you know. It lines up and people have to wait but they are jovial, happy and they say no problem everything is good. So, you see that wonderful side of humanity again.”
Which is easy — when you’re good and making smiles from scratch.
Reporting by Justine Stewart for MTN News