Article By: Tricia Lynn Strader
Photos By: Josh Triggs
Some people are natural-born cooks. They come by it naturally. They’d rather be in the kitchen than almost anywhere else. And a subset of those great cooks are the bakers… the ones who make the delectable desserts we can’t wait to sink our teeth into. Leigh Ann Hixon is one of those bakers.
“I like to cook regular things, but baking is my passion,” she says.
For the past three years, she’s operated Snix Snax Shax Bakery out of her home in Hancock, Md. Business is growing thanks to her delicious treats, the Internet, and word of mouth.
One could say baking is in her genes. She says her father is a great cook, and he gets his skills from his mother. Leigh Ann, 47, watched her grandmother while growing up and credits her for a lot of her talent.
The family visited Leigh Ann’s grandmother Edith Coleman in Alabama in the summers.
Leigh Ann’s dad Ken Coleman was in the Army Corps of Engineers and ended up in Pennsylvania for a time working on a lake project. He met her mom Millie, and they married. They set up housekeeping in Alabama, but when Leigh Ann was young, they moved back to Pennsylvania near where her mother hailed.
“I was born in Alabama,” says Leigh Ann. “We moved back to where my mom’s from, and I used to visit my grandmother for two weeks every summer until I was 20. I watched her. She was a cake and biscuit maker.”
Leigh Ann says her grandmother was always making Southern buttermilk biscuits and homemade cakes from scratch.
“She made a yellow cake with caramel icing and nuts I can still remember,” she said. “She used a lot of pecans and used to ship us pecans from the South.”
She still has her grandmother’s biscuit bowl that was used to make the dough for all those years of biscuits. It was passed down to her.
Leigh Ann began baking seriously at 16 years old. She started out making cookies and brownies. She then added pies, muffins and cakes. She always enjoyed baking, more so than cooking anything else.”Mom’s mother Ruth Smith baked breads and pies,” she says.
“Mom cooks and bakes, but Dad is really good at it and enjoys it more. Mom still works, so he’s the cook and baker for the most part. And they do a lot of canning. Their homemade sweet relish is really good. I have to learn how to make that.”
Some of her specialties are banana nut, blueberry, and lemon poppy seed muffins. In keeping with the family tradition of using nuts, she makes pecan tassies.
“Pecan tassies are like little mini pecan pies or tarts,” she says.
Her pies include apple, peach, and blueberry. One of her special desserts is white chocolate caramel apples that she gives out as gifts, especially in the fall.When Leigh Ann married her husband Tom and moved from Hagerstown to Hancock, she did more baking. It had been a hobby and an enjoyment. He is an avid hunter. So, when he was busy hunting, she baked.
Three years ago, she started her home-based bakery Snix Snax Shax Bakery, named after her dog Snickers who loves “snaxs.” She takes orders, and word is spreading.
She says with help and support from her family, over the first three years, she’s tripled her business. The bakery is becoming somewhat of a family affair. Her mother-in-law Linda Hixon helps out making deliveries.
She makes shower cakes, birthday cakes, and wedding cakes to name a few special occasions. She has several shower and wedding cakes in the works for this summer and fall.
One can choose from over 10 custom flavors and an almost limitless icing selection to satisfy the sweet tooth, brighten up a day at the offi ce, or make a party that much more enjoyable.
She’s always experimenting with ideas and flavors, and looking for just the right combination to create new recipes. And she loves creating memories for her customers with special occasion cakes “I’m working on the idea for one cake,” she says, “that is to be fuchsia colored. But they have an allergy issue with the red food dye. So, I’m looking into plant-based food colorings.”
Proof of that dedication to creativity and making something special is in the feedback she gets from her customers. She received an award for one of her creations in Martinsburg in April. With the help of her assistant Pam Ford, she won the Most Creative Cupcake Contest at the Chocolate Faire for her Mocha Dream Cake.
“I actually had a dream about baking this cake,” she says. “The cake is a three-layer chocolate cake with salted caramel filling, with a Swiss meringue mocha buttercream, drizzled with chocolate ganache garnished with chocolate covered espresso beans.
“The following weekend, after literally dreaming it up, she baked the cake for her husband and assistant, and they loved it. She knew she was onto something. She entered the cupcake version and won that contest.
Look for some of her items soon at the Hancock Farmers Market.
Snix Snax Shax Bakery is at 12500 Willow Road, Hancock, Md. Leigh Ann can be reached at (240) 217-8199, at snixsnaxshaxbakery.com, or on Facebook.