When I was a kid, my mom was a good, basic cook.
For baking, with the exception of her famous butter cookies, she relied on the help of her friends Duncan (Hines) and Betty (Crocker).
I was not lucky enough to inherit a box of family baking recipes.
Growing up in Memphis, Tennessee, Shannon Moore was, however, exposed to the Southern baking tradition from an early age.
The Southern Foodways Alliance says on its website that “Southern baking is not only a way of survival: it is an expression of love, empathy and celebration.”
In Shannon’s family, her dad was a home baker and one of her aunts traveled and collected cookbooks from many exotic places that she visited.
Shannon told me that it was reading and enjoying these cookbooks that started her on the culinary path she follows today. She began her professional baking in college. An art history major, she attended Tulane University in New Orleans and received her degree from Rhodes College in Memphis.
Following the Grateful Dead for a year in the late 1990s brought her to California.
She began baking bread at what is now the Whole Foods Market on Yulupa Avenue in Santa Rosa. Stints at the Downtown Bakery & Creamery and Flying Goat Coffee took up the next 10 years.
She describes herself as a self-taught baker who learned a lot at each job she had. Professional baking is a hard slog, with long crazy hours, so by 2008, Shannon was more than ready for a break.
After a year away from the oven, during which time she had a job marketing tchotchkes from China for a local company, the “lure of the flour sack” sucked her back into a business that she ran out of her home for a while, getting clients by word of mouth.
Flour Girl began when Shannon realized that baking was her true love and the rest, as they say, is history.
I visited her recently at the commercial kitchen space she rents in Cloverdale. When I walked in to the kitchen, she was spreading icing (or frosting, if you prefer); making a long rectangular shape on a sheet of wax paper.
It took a moment for me to figure out what was going on and I said, “Looks like you could use another hand.”
I was drafted as baking assistant as we both maneuvered the icing onto the sides of a layer cake that was the bottom tier of a wedding cake — one of the five jobs she had on her worksheet for the day.
Once the icing was in place, Shannon smoothed it around the sides, pressing lightly so that it would adhere before removing the paper and popping it into the fridge to allow the icing to firm up.
She is a one-woman operation from purchasing, to prep, to baking, to clean up, although her husband, Stuart Fisher, has proven to be an able assistant who can jump in and help when needed.
Shannon began baking for Plank Coffee in Cloverdale when they opened in May 2012 and was profiled in the Reveille in December 2017, in an article that emphasized the gluten-free treats that she supplied to the popular local gathering place.
Although she no longer bakes for Plank, she did help train their baking crew and they continue to use some of her recipes.
Shannon began as one of the original vendors for the Cloverdale Farmers’ Market in 2013, along with Preston Farm & Winery and Duncan’s Mushrooms.
She has her market routine down to a science, making the dough for the fruit and veggie galettes the week before, doing prep work every Monday and baking on Tuesday mornings.
At the market’s upcoming sixth anniversary celebration on Tuesday, Oct. 15, she will be making batches of her apple cider donuts, which are a perfect complement to the fresh-pressed cider, made using the wooden apple press loaned by Preston each year.
We hope that you will come out and sample the goodies that Shannon offers each and every Tuesday from 3 to 6 p.m. in the empty lot next to Plank Coffee.
Our 2019 market season will run through Nov. 26.
Special orders for Thanksgiving pies and cakes are highly recommended, so you get on Shannon’s schedule and don’t miss out.
I’m putting my order in for a miso sweet potato pie.
Karen Allan is the manager of the Cloverdale Tuesday Farmers’ Market. She’s rarely seen without Cora. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.