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REVIEW: New bakery Delish lives up to its name

Southern Oregon has a new bakery centrally located in the Medford Center: Delish opened quietly last month and serves up a tempting assortment of sweets and savories. This carefully crafted bakery showcases a rotating selection of cakes, cookies, quiche and more that are as beautiful to look at as they are delicious to experience.

For years, Susan Prunty was corporate through and through, baking on the sly to relax and entertain or for the odd catering gig. She ran a desk for years before deciding to give her dream a chance to fly. Today, Prunty’s dreams are light and airy, just like her signature cakes but with a mission to build a community of women who may someday choose to follow a dream.

Prunty has 12 signature cakes, two cakes coming out of the ovens on Fridays and another two on Tuesdays; a nice-sized slice is $5.50. The cakes are magnificent — Chocolate Peanut Butter, Lemon Dream, Tres Leches, Red Velvet and Crazy for Coconut. Mocha Madness is a coffee-infused chocolate cake layered with espresso buttercream and decorated with chocolate-covered coffee beans. The Irish Car Bomb is a Guinness chocolate cake layered with Jameson’s Irish Whiskey ganache and frosted with Bailey’s Irish Cream buttercream.

One cake, called a Gilligan’s Island Cake, is Prunty’s invention. Four layers of a rich banana butter cake layered with coconut cream filling, frosted with whipped cream and topped with toasted coconut, the Gilligan’s Island Cake is Prunty’s best-seller and deservedly so. Half of that single slice was just right after supper, and the other half made breakfast the next day a tropical delight.

Prunty caters her sweets and takes special orders for most anything except cakes finished with fondant. Her cakes run from a 6-inch that serves 8 to 12 people for $28 to a 12-inch that serves 40 to 50 people for $95; just give her a three-day advance on the order.

Lemon bars, brownies and pecan bars run $3.50 apiece and were tempting, but there were so many items to consider! I chose a selection of cookies at $2.50 each: an oatmeal raisin, dark chocolate chip and peanut butter. My favorite of these was the dark chocolate chip, dense and heavy with chocolate and a taste of cinnamon and my least favorite was the oatmeal raisin, which was grainy with sugar but stayed tall in the baking. Having just read Krampner’s “Creamy and Crunchy: An Informal History of Peanut Butter,” I was pleased to enjoy the third cookie, with savory peanuty notes that sang to my senses.

You’ll find scones daily at $2.95, and the two that I tried were a real treat, just warmed up for 30 seconds in the microwave. Nice and crumbly, but with a fine texture, the cheddar bacon scone was lunch the next day, and the cherry chocolate was dessert, shared with a friend.

For a light lunch or an easy dinner, consider Delish’s quiche at $4.95 a slice or $24 for a full pie. We took home slices of the Monte Cristo, made of ham and Gruyere; spanikopita, with spinach, feta and pine nuts; and the Californian, made with bacon, cheddar and green onions. All were excellent, not overly eggy, with distinctly different flavors and a beautiful, crumbly crust made of butter and vegetable shortening that wasn’t at all soggy.

Prunty has blogged for years about her royal iced cookies, each an illustration of a favorite book read that month. The cookies are spectacular and demonstrate technical skill, emotional engagement and intellectual curiosity.

Now that Prunty’s a real baker, she’s taking that idea a step further and starting a book club for women that will meet at Delish. As a kickoff, Prunty’s selected the first book, “Finding Your Own North Star: Claiming the Life You Were Meant to Live,” by Martha Beck, because this book clarified her own ideas about life and gave Prunty the courage to follow her dream.

The first Delish Book Club Sunday is at 4 p.m. April 28; she’ll have sweets and savories, and conversation starters on the table. Prunty says she wants women to come together, talk and have a piece of cake — who could refuse such an offer?

Delish is a place to stop at often because Prunty’s always perfecting a new recipe and experimenting with a better way to deliver a delectable delight. She made 1,500 macarons before she was satisfied, and today, for the first time, she’s offering a pâte à choux, which looks divine.

Delish is located at 543 Medford Center, near the Collaborative Theatre Project, and is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday. For more information and daily specials, visit DelishOregon.com on the web, @delishoregon on Facebook or call 541-245-5474.

Reach Ashland freelance writer Maureen Flanagan Battistella at mbattistellaor@gmail.com.

Photo by Maureen Flanagan BattistellaA slice of Delish’s spanikopita quiche with three cookies: peanut butter, chocolate cherry chip and oatmeal raisin.