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Newton bakery a family affair: hundreds of king cakes made

HICKORY, N.C. (AP) — The sweet smell of hundreds of king cakes being baked emanated from Odalys Bakery in Newton on Thursday.

The Cervantes family and a team of bakers started baking about 600 small and large king cakes, or rosca de reyes, at 11 p.m. Wednesday. They worked through the night and into Thursday, baking and selling the cakes in celebration of the biblical holiday Epiphany or Día de Los Reyes, the day the three kings visited Jesus.

The day is the busiest day of the year for the bakery, said Alejandro Cervantes, the son of owner Salvador Cervantes.

The bakery has been in Newton for 19 years. It’s one of 10 locations of Odalys Bakery, including a new location in Hickory, Cervantes said. His family also runs the Hickory location on Fourth Street, SW, which opened in the summer of 2021.

“There’s a lot of demand there (in Hickory),” he said. “We had customers coming to Newton from Hickory.” The Hickory location is a storefront only, supplied by the bakery in Newton. Eventually, the family hopes to expand to start baking in Hickory, as well, Cervantes said.

While Jan. 6, Epiphany, is Odalys Bakery’s busiest day, the winter season keeps them busy for months, Cervantes said.

Several cashiers and a handful of bakers get products like fresh bread, cakes and pastries into the hands of customers.

On busy days, the storefront is filled with customers getting their items from behind glass doors. Metal racks of finished baked goods are wheeled out onto the floor. Cashiers greet customers with friendly smiles and conversation — customers become friends over time, Cervantes said.

In the back, the kitchen is filled with the sounds of the rhythmic click of the whisk in the industrial mixer, the hum of the ovens and the kneading of dough on countertops. With expert ease, the bakers shape the dough and fill metal pans with the bread until racks are full and ready to bake.

The bakery is a well- oiled machine led by Salvador Cervantes, who has been a baker since he was a teenager, Alejandro Cervantes said. The baking tradition was passed from father to son. The bread is made with the same care taken in their home kitchen, Alejandro said.

“We make our bread with dedication, care and patience for our customers,” he said.

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