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Rosario Gamboa and Canela Bakery — Yummy with a Mexican Flair

If you are one of those folks who craves delicious baked goods — from croissants to cakes, pies, doughnuts, and even churros — take a right-hand turn and head straight to Canela Bakery in Gaithersburg. There, you can feast your eyes on and treat your palate with a huge assortment of treats to round out your yearning for salty or sweet!
All this caloric heaven is thanks to the foresight and creative energy of the bakery’s owner, Rosario Gamboa. A native of Mexico who moved to the United States several decades ago, she admits that the idea of owning and baking for a bakeshop was not in her game plan. In fact, she said, she was trained as a nurse and did not even know how to bake when she arrived in Maryland.
But all that changed when she discovered the bakery. “I had no knowledge of baking,” said Gamboa. “But my husband and I loved the breads there. I bought the business because one of my friends is a baker. He said that he would bake for me if I bought the bakery.” That, of course, proved an incentive for her to learn the baker’s art. She took classes locally and learned how to bake cakes. She went to New York and took baking classes there. She even returned to Mexico to learn how to make local breads and other baked goods.
That was ten years ago, and Gamboa and her husband have overseen a significant growth in their once-German bakery. “We started with five employees,” she said. “I was the cashier, and I was the dishwasher and cleaning person. I did all the deliveries, too.” And because she and her baker, Eloy Resendiz, researched the customer base, the store started off featuring Latino baked goods. “We introduced Latino breads, tres leches cakes, and churros,” she said. “I did a survey of sales a year later, and all our patrons, they loved our Latino goods.” But she noted they also wanted healthier, whole grain breads and baguettes, with no preservatives and no color or other additives. To satisfy everyone, she decided to offer both types of baked goods. The menu now includes 20 different types of bread, from cranberry orange, to rosemary, to classic oat.
As it turns out, the store’s favorites include the tres leches cake, tamales, and churros. And, she added, the store’s cakes — wedding cakes, birthday cakes, and cakes for showers — do very well. In fact, there is such a demand for Canela’s baked goods that the bakery sells wholesale to numerous local stores and appears at several local area farmers markets during the season. Flowered gelatinas are also offered at the markets, and they sell out quickly. Very popular in some parts of Mexico, these fruity desserts look like a flower in a gelatin bubble. Gamboa and her cake decorator, Erika Balleza, make them by hand using hypodermic needles to create the petals and flower stems. They are an art to behold — and to eat!
The store is now open seven days a week. Rosario Gamboa finds that many customers stop by every morning on the way to work to buy bread, coffee to go, and tamales. And, she notes, the store has been so successful that it now employs 16 people. That underscores her positive game plan and how tempting her products have been.

CANELA BAKERY
806 Muddy Branch Rd. Gaithersburg, MD
Hours: Daily until 9:00 p.m.
Sundays until 7:00 p.m.
240-631-9599
canelabakeryus.com

LOCAL COOKS | Alexandra Greeley
ALEXANDRA GREELEY has more than 25 years of experience as an author, editor, reporter, food critic, staff writer and free-lance writer and editor, both in the United States and Asia, having performed virtually every editorial and writing task. Her expertise lies in Asian culture, having lived in China for several years and traveling there on extended research trips for her books.

About the Author

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