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Amish Baking Co. cooks up success at the Florida State Fair

Raini Perry, 14, of Jacksonville celebrates her first time at the Florida State Fair with a warm Amish doughnut topped with fresh strawberries and whipped cream. The Amish Baking Co. debuted two products this year.
Published Feb. 11, 2016

TAMPA

Raini Perry takes a smooth, warm slice of strawberry and whipped cream-topped doughnut and quickly puts the forkful into her mouth.

"I'm in heaven," she said, "fluffy heaven."

Perry, 14, from Jacksonville is getting her first taste of a Florida State Fair-favorite: the Amish doughnut from the Amish Baking Co. stand outside the Expo Center.

The tent is one of two at the Florida State Fair this year, serving up giant, warm and sticky Amish doughnuts and handmade soft pretzels.

On Sunday, the fourth day of the fair, lines at both stands stretched to more than 10 people throughout the day.

"I waited in line to buy one and it was like heaven," said Chuck Pesano, Florida State Fair Authority executive director. "It's one of those things where it's better than you can imagine."

Owner Nate Peachey said the company debuted two products this year: a strawberry-stuffed doughnut and the Sweetheart, a strawberry and whipped cream-topped doughnut with hot fudge.

Peachey said the Sarasota-based company rarely makes changes to its menu, but went with two firsts this year.

"The donut is still the star player in the new creation," he said. "It's like a big dessert, best eaten with a fork and a knife."

Peachey and his siblings, all former Amish and some Mennonite, created the Amish Baking Co. in 2007 on a mobile concept, with a food truck delivering baked goods to fairs and festivals in the Sarasota area.

His family of eight use to run Peachey's Home Baking in North Carolina, where their four-car garage was converted into a bakery and where Peachey started baking at age 12.

"It's called Amish Baking Co. because that's what I do," Peachey said. "I grew up working in that bakery."

Peachey uses the recipes from his family's bakery to create the doughnuts gobbled up at the fair for the past six years. The recipe for the glaze came from his aunt, who is also a baker.

"My great-grandmother, grandmother and my mother did doughnuts. We would make them every Saturday morning," Peachey said. "But I changed a few things in the recipe to personalize it."

The idea for the Sweetheart doughnut came during last year's Strawberry Festival, where Peachey and his co-workers were playing around drizzling some leftover hot fudge onto their doughnuts.

Peachey said the first few days of the fair were slow when it came to selling the new Sweetheart, but people still lined up for their staple doughnuts. With the cool weather coming this weekend, he and his co-workers are getting ready for busier days by getting more staffers to work the stands.

"Saturdays and Sundays are the big days," Peachey said. "From about noon to 10 p.m., there are lines."

When Peachey and his bakers are done frying dough and slathering it with glaze at the state fair, it's on to the Strawberry Festival in Plant City, where they will continue to serve the Sweetheart and strawberry-topped doughnut.

"It's what I know how to do. Everyone has things they're skilled at," Peachey said. "For me it was practically being born in a bakery."

Contact Chelsea Tatham at ctatham@tampabay.com. Follow @chelseatatham

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