State College

Penn State Bakery prepares for Thanksgiving Day dinners

Jessica DeHaas, a bakery assistant at the Penn State Bakery, prepares pumpkin pies for the Nittany Lion Inn on Friday.
Jessica DeHaas, a bakery assistant at the Penn State Bakery, prepares pumpkin pies for the Nittany Lion Inn on Friday. For the Centre Daily Times

And you thought your kitchen was crowded over the holidays.

For more than a week now, the Penn State Bakery has been preparing the rolls, cookies and pumpkin pies that will help make the Thanksgiving meals at The Nittany Lion Inn and The Penn Stater Hotel and Conference Center really pop this holiday season.

The key to a successful Turkey Day meal? Reliability.

It’s just basic, traditional Thanksgiving stuff that you’d have at home.

Heather Luse, executive pastry chef at the Penn State Bakery

“It’s just basic, traditional Thanksgiving stuff that you’d have at home,” Heather Luse, executive pastry chef at the Penn State Bakery, said.

It would seem that even when people are eating out, they want to feel like they’re sitting right at their own dining room table. The quantities, however, are a little bit more ambitious than most people attempt to tackle, even over a long weekend.

To feed the masses at The Nittany Lion Inn and The Penn Stater, Luse estimates that the bakery prepares at least 100 loaves of bread, 125 dozen rolls and between 40 and 60 pies.

Considering the turnout that both of the locations are anticipating, it seems safe to say that none of it will go to waste.

The Penn Stater is expecting more than 1,000 guests for Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday, split between two buffets in the restaurant and one of the banquet halls.

Decorating and food prep will begin in earnest on Monday, with a majority of the staff scheduled to work the big day.

A similar situation will be unfolding over at the Nittany Lion Inn, where a cancellation list is already in circulation

As for the bakery, the sweet smells of Thanksgiving will continue to permeate the area at least through Thursday.

Luse said that her staff is typically impervious to the smells of whatever confection is cooking in the oven. The ever-present temptation of enticing aromas is an occupational hazard, after all, and it’s best not to get too carried away.

Still, it’s difficult to catch a whiff of the stuffing bread the bakery is preparing for The Nittany Lion Inn and not be put in the holiday spirit.

“You’re like ‘ah, it smells like Thanksgiving,’ ” Luse said.

Once that itch is scratched, it will be straight back to work for the bakery crew.

“We go from Thanksgiving and we’ve got to start prepping Christmas,” Luse said.

Frank Ready: 814-231-4620, @fjready

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