Arriving at Patricia Anderson’s Southern Albemarle home early one morning, I had the good fortune of learning that I had timed my visit for muffin day. The heavenly fragrance of butter, lemon, and vanilla perfumed the air as I got out my car – perfectly pairing a million-dollar scent with the million-dollar view from the front porch. Anderson, known to all at the Charlottesville City Market as “Cricket”, greeted me and welcomed me into her neat-as-a-pin kitchen for a quick tour.
Cricket has been a vendor at the City Market for 13 years. Not long after she started selling scrumptious baked goods at the market, she realized that she needed a more efficient kitchen and bakery. With the help of family and friends, she converted a detached garage to a charming and functional bakery, outfitted with mixers, ovens and supplies. But along with the equipment and supplies, Anderson displays an impressive collection of gifts from some of her loyal customers through the years. The combination of utility and sentiment is undeniably sweet.
Originally from Shelby, North Carolina, Cricket moved to the Charlottesville area when she was in the 10th grade. When she was 6 years old, a severe reaction to an immunization error resulted in her hospitalization, and she suffered significant hearing loss. Her parents were unable to read and write, and one of Cricket’s older sisters urged her to move to Charlottesville so that she would have better educational opportunities. After school, Cricket worked in production at The Michie Company for many years, but was not happy with the way the company treated their workers. She decided to turn to something she knew well to support herself, and Cricket’s Baked Goods & Catering was born.
A self-taught cook, Cricket told me that she’d been cooking at home since she was a youngster. Growing up on a farm meant that all family members had their share of chores, and she learned to cook from her mother. Today, she bakes with scientific precision, carefully measuring quantities and temperatures for consistently delicious results. But it’s not all about math and measuring – the scrumptious lemon-poppy seed muffins that were just coming out of the oven on my arrival went straight to the wrapping table, with no cooling down period. “Wrapping them while they’re hot from the oven”, Anderson explained, “keeps the moisture in. If you let them cool before wrapping, they dry out.” Judging from the delicious, moist muffin I gobbled down on Saturday morning, this woman knows her muffins!
Together with her husband, Rodez, you can find Cricket selling baked goods at the market most Saturday mornings, sometimes with the help of one of her three grandchildren. Impeccably packaged pies, muffins, biscuits, quick breads and cinnamon rolls cover her sales table, and she welcomes special orders. Cricket prides herself on making everything from scratch, and the quality of her baked goods tells the tale. Biscuits, anyone?? Mmmmmmm – pass the jam!