Artisan Underground:
Cake, But Better…a Family Legacy Reborn

Jennifer Zwayer of Sweet Clover Bakery

Lancaster native, farm wife, and small-business owner Jennifer Zwayer of Sweet Clover Bakery has substantially raised the bar on artisan bakes in Fairfield County. A double-cancer survivor and eternal optimist, Jennifer’s story is one of trials, tribulations, and triumphs.

As a licensed nurse, her cancer diagnosis prepared her for the realities of her condition. Knowing the statistics and options, Jennifer took charge of her health and persevered through a combination of traditional and alternative therapies.

Going through this difficult time, Jen turned back to her childhood for comfort. She began baking again, reliving the memories of helping with her mom’s baking business as a child. Jen would assist her mom, fetching ingredients, stirring, watching…and all the while learning. Her mom’s business was incredibly popular, so they were busy. Jen’s knowledge of the world of possibilities in sponge, buttercream, and cookie recipes go way back in Lancaster history.

A true artisan maker, Sweet Clover Bakery’s glorious bakes can’t exactly be called “health food” but listen to Jen for a minute and you’ll almost be convinced you can have cake for breakfast, guilt-free.

It’s the ingredients for Sweet Clover that make all the difference. There’s no shortening or artificial flavoring here. She’ll choose rich Kerrygold butter for certain recipes, but only Danish butter will do in others, because of the texture they impart to the final product. She only sources eggs from local farmers – she really likes the eggs you can find down here on 188, and she sources her flours and cocoas (yes, cocoas plural!) from a locally owned bulk foods store in Athens.

Sweet Clover Bakery loves to make vanilla extract in-house, occasionally using a base of bourbon or rum to capture a unique flavor profile. Fruit flavors are achieved using highly concentrated handmade compotes and concentrated, dehydrated fruit powders to give a real-life fruit “punch,” instead of artificial flavors. Sweet Clover Bakery would absolutely love to be able to source more local fruits, nuts, and milk. Next fall, Jen really wants to get her hands on some pawpaws, that unique and fleeting Appalachian seasonal banana-like fruit.

One of Jen’s favorite bakes was limoncello cupcakes made for a lovely couple for their wedding, with handmade organic lemon curd, real limoncello in the sponge cake, and Swiss meringue buttercream. The couple loved it – the result was light, rich, tart and not over-sweet. “The buttercream’s beautiful creamy yellow came from the quality natural ingredients” Jen explained. “We try to limit artificial color use and let the ingredients shine, so to tie in the couple’s navy and coral color scheme, I created a sculptural coral fondant rose”.

Jen’s business goals reflect her optimistic mindset – to make people happy and make their sweet dreams become a reality, at approachable prices. She is truly happy to just be a part of their special event. Her favorite dessert is one where she can develop something truly unique and creative from her client’s vision boards, invitations, and color schemes.

Reach out to Jen at Sweet Clover Bakery for cakes, bakes, and cookies:
Call (740) 304-3067 or email Sweet Clover Bakery or connect on Facebook. One bite, and the taste will be living in your head rent-free.

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Filed under: Food & Beverage, Lancaster Artisan Underground, Life, Meet Your Neighbors, News, People
Stephanie Warino

By Stephanie Warino

Stephanie Warino contributes to the Lancaster Herald's Artisan Series, spotlighting central Ohio creative small business. Formerly in environmental science and management consulting, Steph now owns The Henry Wedding Venue in Lancaster with husband Charlie. She started 310 Soap Company, dedicated to producing small-batch, clean skincare.