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The Local Dish: 08/15/2013

The Local Dish

Rosemarie Ramponi, Garden Court Cafe and Bakery

For Rosemarie Ramponi, co-owner of Garden Court Café & Bakery in Glen Ellen, baking, as she does often, holds a special place in her heart.

“It reminds me so much of growing up in a big, happy family,” said Ramponi, sipping coffee among the tables and country charm of the café which she and her husband, Nick, purchased four years ago from long-time owners Rich and Stacy Treglia.

Ramponi manages the front of the house and does all of the baking for the café - except the bread (“that's Nick”). A Sonoma County native from a family of five siblings, Ramponi has been cooking and baking since she was young. “When I was nine years old, I started baking, cooking, and barbequing to help my mom, because there were so many kids. My mom always got recipe magazines like Better Homes and Gardens, and I would try those. That's how I got started.”

When Rosemarie and Nick decided to purchase the Garden Court Café in 2009, family played a pivotal role as well. “We wanted to own a breakfast and lunch restaurant because we wanted to be able to be at home with the kids in the evening, and go to soccer games,” said Ramponi.

“Baking is so joyful, such a wholesome activity. I want to create those memories with my kids. It's really so important to me.”

Rosemarie and Nick have four children, and Ramponi's two younger ones often help out in the café. Her youngest daughter, attending Kenwood Preschool, is already making banana oatmeal bread in the kitchen, and her son, a second-grader, helps set the tables - and also helps out when she makes his favorite cake, lemon buttermilk coffee cake.

A staple request for his birthday and special occasions, Ramponi has been making this cake, fine-tuned from her mother's recipe, for years. “This recipe is something we've baked together. It's the easiest recipe to bake with kids.” Although Ramponi usually incorporates Meyer lemons from her mother-in-law's tree, any lemons will do.

The Garden Court Café and Bakery is located at 13647 Arnold Dr. in Glen Ellen and is open six days a week for breakfast and lunch. They can be reached at 935-1565.

Lemon Buttermilk Coffee Cake

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

1 _ sticks unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 Tablespoon baking powder

_ teaspoon salt

Zest from 2 lemons

1 tsp vanilla

2 cups flour

1 cup buttermilk

Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt in small bowl, set aside. Cream sugar and butter in mixing bowl on medium speed until light and fluffy, about five minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and lemon zest, with the mixer on the lowest speeds. Add half the flour mixture. Add buttermilk and rest of the flour just until combined.

Put into a greased 9x5 loaf pan and bake 40-50 minutes. Cool and follow with lemon glaze, if desired.

Lemon glaze

Juice from 2 lemons

1 cup powdered sugar

2 Tablespoons softened butter

Combine all ingredients, mixing well to break up clumps. Add more powered sugar if necessary.

Drizzle over cooled cake.

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