CHOCORUA — Before Betty Schneider — known locally as the "Scandinavian baker" — arrived in the valley from New Orleans, she had worked at a bed-and-breakfast inn in that city, the 1896 O’Malley House.

“It was a beautiful Victorian, I had a ball there.” Betty recalled.

But when Hurricane Katrina hit back in August of 2005, she and her husband Kent thought it just the right time to make the move and venture out on their own.

They began looking at properties. Being dedicated animal lovers the two hated the thought of leaving their two miniature dachshunds at a kennel during the day.

“They were never in a kennel, never had been and never would be,” Betty said. So, the two alternated taking trips to look at properties while the other stayed with the dogs, Strudel and Schnitzel.

After finding the perfect property, a Victorian-style building at 12 Deer Hill Road in Chocorua, the couple immediately began making the necessary renovations for a swift move, eager to begin their life in the valley.

The nine-month project went along perfectly as scheduled — a miraculous feat that anyone who has ever experienced construction delays can attest to.

To thank those who were working so hard on her home Betty began baking for the crew members.

“I must have made maybe 15 of my cardamom coffee cakes for them; I went around giving them out,” Betty said, "until they started saying, ‘Why’re you just giving these away? You should be selling them.”

Kent encouraged her to give it a try, and with his support, she did just that. Starting out with nothing but a small wooden cart at the end of her road, Betty loaded it up with her fresh baked goods and began to sell them.

“I wanted to start small and see if it would really work,” she said.

Betty’s energetic optimism dodged all obstacles in her way when it came to making her bakery both a reality and a success.

She never ventured out to attract customers — they found her.

Growing up in a Swedish household, Betty said that, “Growing up, you learned how to do laundry, you learned how to iron, and you learned how to bake — not in that order!

"But I especially loved baking," she said. "I remember as a little girl I would watch my mother knead the bread and would be shocked hours later at how she had made the bread rise. Of course, I figured out later that it wasn’t magic — it was just yeast,” she laughed.

This week, standing behind a counter filled with such delectable treats as her snickerdoodle muffins, Swedish apple cake, cardamom coffee cake and Scandinavian almond cake, as well as many different varieties of cookies, Betty still keeps the wooden bowls in which her mother taught her the “magic” of making bread.

She also keeps Swedish heritage alive through the tradition of fika — an afternoon break where it’s customary to drink a cup of coffee or tea, have a slice of cake (such as a slice of her famous Scandinavian almond cake), and relax. During the warmer months, Betty sets up tables outside on the patio.

She is planning to host an event sometime over the spring/summer where she can expand the tradition of fika by hosting baking classes with tips and traditions.

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