From cakes and cookies to sweet dreams known as “Meltaways,” Savage’s sets a high standard for Birmingham-area bakeries.
Soon after I moved to Birmingham, Alabama, for a feature-writing job, someone brought a box of Savage’s Bakery “Meltaways” to a meeting at the office. One bite and I was hooked. I traced those glorious pastries to the central business district in suburban Homewood just a few miles away and became a regular customer.
Meltaways are variations on the sweet roll theme, baked in a cupcake shape. Toppings include raspberry, apricot, lemon, cinnamon-raisin, almond, cream cheese and more, plus a drizzle of icing. Owner Van Scott explains that while many have tried to imitate this unique innovation, none have succeeded. “There’s a secret method involved, and I’m not about to give that out!” he says.
SIGNATURE ITEMS No single product rules this diversified bakeshop. It does a wide variety of things well—breads, cakes, cookies, petit fours, wedding cakes, and even deli sandwiches around lunchtime. “We’re probably best known for our iced cutout cookies in all kinds of shapes,” Van says. “Rainbows, gingerbread men, and orange smiley faces are always popular.” He’ll make custom cookies for people who bring in their own cutters. He even had a cutter designed in the shape of Vulcan, the spear-point-gripping Roman god of the forge, to honor the world’s largest cast-iron statue. That enormous figure, which can be seen from the bakery, towers above Vulcan Park on nearby Red Mountain, the iron-rich source of the local steel industry.
FROSTING FLOWERS Van can do any task that needs done in the bakery he has owned since 1978, but his favorite role is cake decorator. Cakes teeming with spring flowers made of frosting are his specialty. “I’ve always liked working with my hands and couldn’t see myself sitting behind a desk,” the former English major says.
BROOKHOUSE ROLLS “Our Brookhouse Rolls are named for my grandmother, whose last name was Brook,” Van says. “They’re made with a different method. Instead of a dough hook we use a paddle to make a sleek sort of dough that has greater moisture retention and more gluten development than most. They’re loaded with real butter and dipped in melted butter during the shaping process, when they’re folded kind of like Parkerhouse rolls. They melt in your mouth. After you eat one, you want another.”
ABOUT THE NAME “People ask me all the time if I’m Mr. Savage,” says Van, who is not. “William Savage started his bakery in downtown Birmingham in 1939 and moved to the current Homewood location in the 1950s. In 1978 I had recently graduated with an English degree and was thinking of getting into the bakery business when he died. He had no children to pass it on to, so I bought it from his wife and kept the name because it already had such a great reputation. Savage’s has been around for 70-plus years, but I’m only the second owner.”
HOURS Mon-Fri 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Sat 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
INFO www.savagesbakery.com or 205-871-4901