Teresa Gebbett learned to bake while working at her family’s pub in Southern England.
“I’ve made thousands of steak and kidney pies,” she said.
The repetition didn’t spoil Gebbett’s passion for baking. After moving to the United States with her husband and children 10 years ago, she got a job as a baker at Clock Tower Bakery in downtown Overland Park. In May 2014, Gebbett purchased the bakery from its previous owners and added British fare such as shortbread, scones and sausage rolls. Steak and kidney pie did not make the menu.
“I’m not sure Americans would go for kidney,” Gebbett said with a smile.
On a recent gray and cold Wednesday afternoon, I went to Clock Tower Bakery and warmed up with cottage pie ($7.95). The traditional dish features a hearty layer of beef and gravy topped with cheesy mashed potatoes. The savory pie, served bubbling-hot in a ceramic crock, might be the ultimate winter comfort food.
Clock Tower Bakery also serves wraps, fresh sandwiches stacked on house-baked bread, French macarons in a rainbow of colors and made-from-scratch pizza. The bestselling breakfast pizza ($7.95) tops a soft, chewy crust with ham, mushrooms, eggs, Swiss cheese and, for 25 cents extra, grape tomatoes or red onions.
When Gebbett purchased Clock Tower Bakery nearly two years ago, the business was known for its pizza as well as flaky ham and cheese croissants, super-soft cinnamon rolls and marmalade-swirled orange rolls. I especially like the orange rolls, with their flecks of bright zest.
Clock Tower’s bakery case also features Cornish pasties — gourmet pastry pockets stuffed with either beef and potato or vegetables — as well as jam-filled shortbread cookies inspired by British “Jammie Dodgers” biscuits and a type of rolled cocoa cake called a “squidgy chocolate log.”
The most popular menu item among Clock Tower’s British clientele is the sausage roll, made by baking spiced, local sausage in puff pastry until the pastry is golden.
As you can imagine, Clock Tower Bakery attracts its fair share of Anglophiles who are fans of “Downton Abbey” or “Doctor Who.” The cozy cafe is adorned with photographs of London, red telephone boxes, the Union Jack and a London Underground sign that reads “Clock Tower Station.” The decor provides a fitting backdrop for Clock Tower Bakery’s proper English afternoon tea.
Tea service costs $19.95 per person and must be requested 24 hours in advance. It comes with a three-tier tray that might include an assortment of mini sausage rolls, roasted vegetable pinwheels, mini desserts, French macarons and English scones.
Clock Tower Bakery stocks several varieties of British tea, including an Earl Grey and jasmine blend called Buckingham Palace Garden Party Tea that’s sipped by the Royal family in springtime. Gebbett or her daughter Jessica often serve the tea because customers like listening to their English accents.
“Everyone always asks us to say ‘Harry Potter,’ ” Gebbett said.
When she’s not serving tea, you can find the baker in the large, open kitchen in the heart of the cafe, whipping up sweet and savory treats throughout the day. One of her favorite creations, called a steak bake, is a golden pocket of puff pastry filled with beef, onions and gravy. In other words: A kidney-free version of steak and kidney pie.
Clock Tower Bakery
Location: 7911 Santa Fe Drive in Overland Park
Hours: 7 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday, 7 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Tuesday-Friday and 6:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Saturday. Closed Sunday.
Credit cards: Yes
Parking: Look for a spot along Santa Fe Drive.
Don’t miss: The breakfast pizza ($7.95), cottage pie ($7.95), English shortbread ($2.49), sausage rolls ($3.25) and marmalade-swirled orange rolls ($2.75).
Vegetarian: Try the roasted vegetable pizza ($7.49) or the roasted vegetable wrap ($4.95).