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Bakers' work a labor of love

Tuesday through Sunday, Arnold and Peter Grond rise at 3:30 a.m. By 4:30 a.m., the father-and-son baking team has dough rising for dozens of doughnuts and pounds of pastries and pies at the Homosassa Springs Pastry Shop & Bakery. The hours are long and the work is not easy, but both bakers say they savor the hours they spend in the kitchen.

"I've been a baker my whole life, and if I didn't enjoy it, I would have quit a long time ago," the elder Grond said in a thick Dutch accent.

Grond, 65, has been baking for 45 of those years, first at a small bakery in his native Netherlands.

At 28, he immigrated to the United States, where he began baking in New Jersey. Years later, he decided to move to Florida and become semiretired and work at a part-time job.

"There were no jobs like that to be found around here, so we decided to open our own business about 10 1/2 years ago," said Peter Grond, 30. "This isn't really a retirement job because we work a lot of hours.' Arnold Grond said his busy schedule doesn't bother him.

"I would much rather be doing this than walking up and down the road every day or just sitting around at

home," he said while meticulously decorating a wedding cake.

Aside from the typical baked goods, the elder Grond is proud of his specialty items. He moved from shelf to shelf pointing out hard-to-find marzipan candy; Lebkuchen, which is similar to gingerbread; and Speculaas cookies. All three of those goodies are popular among the Dutch and Germans.

"All this stuff, you will not find at your local grocery store," he said. "But I will bake these for my customers."

While his father decorates cakes and makes his specialties, Peter Grond takes care of the customers.

"We have anywhere from 40 to 125 people a day come in here, so we stay pretty busy. This (clientele) is fine with us because we aren't trying to make millions in the business, just a decent living," he said.