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Baking up simple, Southern goodness

“We’re a simple, Southern bakery.”

You can almost taste the goodness in the five words Bradley Wilkins uses to describe Bee’s Knees Bakery & Gifts, the sweet shop he operates with wife Jaime.

“This is the stuff your grandma used to make…”

“This is the stuff your grandma used to make, but we put our own little spin on it,” the baker explained about the menu of desserts that have attracted a loyal customer following to the store’s location at 1850 Epps Bridge Parkway in Athens. 

The baking duo uses many Depression-era recipes and only the freshest ingredients to create the “from-scratch” cupcakes, cakes and gooey bars that have made them popular.

“All of our items are made in-house. Nothing comes from a mix or is frozen. Everything is homemade,” Bradley said.

He takes pride in saying “there’s nothing fancy” about the desserts offered at the bakery. “From time to time we’ve tried some trendy flavors, but we always come back to the tried-and-true. We keep it simple, just the way our customers like it.”

The Wilkins have been Walton Gas customers

since they became owners of the business in 2016.

The Wilkins have been Walton Gas customers since they became owners of the business in 2016. Both were only 24 at the time.

“Jaime started working here when she was in high school, and I had retail management experience,” Bradley said, explaining how the high school sweethearts ended up managing the business and learning the craft of baking and cake decorating together. When the original owner decided to sell the business, the young couple took the leap and bought it.

Cupcakes are the most popular item offered at the bakery. More than 15 flavors are available daily in store or by special order. Most are topped with the bakery’s signature homemade butter cream icing.

Given their “simple” reputation, it’s no surprise that vanilla cupcakes topped with vanilla buttercream icing are the most requested item sold at Bee’s Knees. Salted caramel and red velvet flavors are also customer favorites.

The bakery is also known for its gooey bars, which Bradley describes as being “a cross between a brownie and a pie.” Red velvet, peanut butter and lemon rank as the most popular flavors for the melt-in-your-mouth desserts.

A traditional, Southern vanilla cake with raspberry filling and buttercream icing wins out as the most popular combination for weddings.

Custom cakes, especially for weddings and birthdays, are another Bee’s Knees specialty. A traditional, Southern vanilla cake with raspberry filling and buttercream icing wins out as the most popular combination for weddings.

The cake flavor lineup also includes the popular red velvet. “It’s NOT a‏ chocolate cake colored red; we make a true red velvet cake,” the bakery’s website reminds. Other favorites include a traditional Southern carrot cake made with raisins and fresh carrots and a hummingbird cake that includes pecans, bananas and spices.

Cake baking is a team effort at the bakery. “We have a great team working in our kitchen. Everyone pitches in to ensure every custom cake we make is special,” Bradley said.

In addition to bakery items, Bee’s Knees offers a lunchtime menu

featuring fresh, homemade sandwiches.

In addition to bakery items, Bee’s Knees offers a lunchtime menu featuring fresh, homemade sandwiches. “We bake the bread in our oven. And we make the chicken salad, egg salad and pimento cheese right here, too,” Bradley said.

Bee’s Knees Bakery & Gifts is open Monday through Saturday, 9:30 a.m.–6:30 p.m. See menus and custom ordering details at www.beeskneesbakeryandgifts.com or by calling (706) 353-3633.