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Icelandic bakery finds success in Dover-Foxcroft despite challenging times

Iris Oskarsdottir-Vail moved to Maine from Iceland in 2016. Now she's baking treats native to her home at Vail's Custom Cakes.

DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — The pandemic, record-high inflation, and supply-chain issues have been enough to cause many businesses to close for good. This has certainly been the case here in Maine.

But one bakery in Dover-Foxcroft is serving up some trans-Atlantic culinary fusion and thriving despite the challenging times.

Oskarsdottir-Vail is the baker at Vail's Custom Cakes. Her in-laws opened the bakery a year into the pandemic last spring.

"We make a little bit of everything," Oskarsdottir-Vail said. “We do pastries from scratch. We make croissants and danishes the traditional Scandinavian way.”

She also bakes scones, cookies, cakes, and Icelandic doughnuts called kleinur.

"It's a type of fried dough that's flavored with a hint of lemon and cardamon," Oskarsdottir-Vail explained. "They're not very sweet, so they're good to dip in your coffee." 

Oskarsdottir-Vail comes from northern Iceland, where she was exposed to the culinary world. She met her husband online in 2016 and then immigrated to Maine.

Oskarsdottir-Vail's in-laws, Charlie and Jen Vail, took the risk of opening the bakery in the middle of the pandemic after Oskarsdottir-Vail lost her job at another bakery that closed its doors for good. 

"We wanted to open a bakery for Iris so she could do what she does best, which is bake incredible foods," Chairle Vail said. "We haven’t lost money, we haven’t gotten rich, but I’m told that just breaking even the first year is good.” 

That's success in the eyes Oskarsdottir-Vail and her in-laws. 

"It’s easy to make friends when you make pastries," Oskarsdottir-Vail said. "You see the same faces here every day, and everybody is willing to try out new things. That’s really, really awesome. 

Since moving to Maine, Oskarsdottir-Vail also has been willing to try new things like whoopie pies. She said the bakery plans to bake a bunch for Saturday's Whoopie Pie Festival in Dover-Foxcroft.

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