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Doughnuts! The options are many, from maple and chocolate bars, glazed, plain cake, Bismarcks, Pershings, glazed twists, cinnamon swirls, sugar-coated, and the list goes on. I’ve come to believe that doughnuts are the American staple for coffee breaks, no matter where you are – office settings, construction sites, nurses’ stations, teacher lounges, and this list goes on. If you allow yourself to indulge, you likely have a favorite. I recently treated myself to a delicious doughnut dripping in chocolate icing (my favorite) from Mountie Moose Bakery in Townsend.

It was a lucky day for Townsend when Angie Wintrow and Ron Lawser moved from Florida and made this small community their home in 2000. After settling in and getting to know the town, they decided it needed a bakery. The first step was buying a small log cabin on Broadway Street, formerly the office of Dr. Brown. The couple gutted the inside, extended the back to accommodate the kitchen, and remodeled the front to include a few tables, displays cases for the goodies, and a service counter. A deck with outside seating completed the renovation.

Other than loving to bake, Angie had no experience of working in or owning a bakery. To get started, she bought a small bakery in the Hi-line town of Big Sandy as a testing ground and then had the challenge of splitting her time between the bakery and Townsend. “I needed to figure out what I was getting into," she said. She would sell that bakery, then take a job as the bakery manager at Safeway in Helena for 18 months.

Feeling confident with some experience under her belt, Angie opened Mountie Moose Bakery in September of 2005. Asked where the name comes from, Angie said she collects moose stuff as witnessed by a house full of moose-themed paraphernalia. Ron had heard that the second-shortest route from Canada to Yellowstone passed through Townsend on Highway 12. So they put Mountie (thinking Canada) with Moose and came up with the name for the bakery.

Angie pointed out that the difference between her doughnuts and those you typically find in grocery stores is that her dough is never frozen, as opposed to what the stores use. Angie and her crew mix the ingredients by hand every day, then cut and shape the dough before refrigerating until the following morning. Angie starts her day around 3 a.m., setting the dough out to rise, then it’s into the fryer. “You carry the aroma of the bakery on you when you’re done frying," she said. "One time I went to a quilting class in town after making doughnuts and someone in class said, 'You smell like a bakery. Can I lick your neck?”'

She is quick to credit her employees, including Susan Doane, her part-time fryer, for her success with the business.

Angie is always experimenting with other goodies in addition to the doughnuts. Scones, breads, apple fritters, turnovers, sticky buns (a customer favorite), cookies and brownies rotate through the display case, depending on the season. Specialty cakes are available on request, as is catering.

Breakfast sandwiches can be served on a croissant, English muffin or biscuit. Breakfast crunch wraps are filled with eggs, choice of a breakfast meat, and cheese, then heated on a panini press. Lunch options are a variety of sandwiches, with a favorite being the Reuben served with homemade German potato salad. With colder weather on the horizon, homemade soups will be offered, along with the addition of pies for the sweet tooth. To wash the good stuff down, coffee, espresso, lattes, smoothies and Italian sodas are available.

Angie is a people pleaser, which is easy to see in her demeanor. She is intent on taking care of a community through her baked goods. In the small-town environment of Townsend, she has watched kids grow from babies to teenagers and considers them part of her family. When these teens stop in after school, Angie instinctively knows what they want without them asking. A grandmother made a trip to the bakery just to thank and praise Angie for her granddaughter’s wedding cake. “That kind of feedback from my customers makes all the long hours so worth it," Angie said.

I left with a box of doughnuts — two maple bars, two chocolate bars and two chocolate-covered doughnuts topped with sprinkles for my grandkids. I had that melt-in-your-mouth chocolate bar woofed down by the time I left Townsend a mere 4 minutes later!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. cinnamon

¼ tsp nutmeg

¼ tsp ground cloves

¾ tsp salt

Mix dry ingredients in a bowl

2 large eggs

¾ cup granulated sugar

½ cup light brown sugar

Mix together in a separate bowl

Add to egg/sugar mixture:

1 ½ cups pumpkin puree (canned pumpkin)

½ cup vegetable or canola oil

¼ cup orange juice

2/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly spray 9x5-inch loaf pan.

Add wet ingredients to dry; fold until combined.

Add chocolate chips. Bake for 50-65 minutes (until toothpick inserted comes out clean).

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Donnie Sexton, who retired in 2016 after a long career with the Montana Office of Tourism, currently freelances as a travel writer and photographer, covering destinations around the world.

TheLastBestPlates.com is a digital destination that serves up Montana's tasty food, travel and culture stories … one bite at a time.

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