In Houston, it seems, baking entrepreneurship has hit overdrive. Take Dylan Carnes of Sinfull Bakery, which won the Houston Press Best of Houston 2011 award for Best Vegan Bakery. Her rise from self-taught baker of vegan sweet treats in her parents' kitchen to gluten-free goodie-making mogul is nothing short of meteoric. Within two years, Carnes left her parents' kitchen, rented space in a commercial kitchen, and now rents out space in a 3,000-square-foot bakehouse to other up and comers. Her products line the shelves of coffee shops and grocery stores in four states.
The kitchen-to-market bakeries seem to fit with our increasing desire to eat food grown or made by people we actually meet or know and whose stories we can connect to. It fits with our increased desire for community and authenticity. Or maybe it's just that the stuff they make is so doggone suh-weet. And Facebook and Wordpress make setting up shop almost effortless.
Here are a few new bakeries giving the big boys a run for their money, fueling the economy, and busting our waistlines.
Sweet Jesse's Treats. Stay-at-home mom Jessica Wagner creates a new cake every week and posts the end results on her Facebook page. Founded in September 2011, Jessica's home business can already be deemed a success. "I bake for my family and friends," she says, "and people began asking me how much I would charge to bake them a cake for special occasions. So, I decided to make a Facebook page and post my cakes. Soon, I was getting calls from people I didn't even know. I made my first three-tier wedding cake this January!"
When Dessert Matters. Pam Butler specializes in cake balls. "We make all of our cake balls from scratch and decorated by hand," her site boasts. And though the words "cake balls" always make me giggle like a 12-year-old girl at a slumber party, take a gander at Pam's hand-decorated, made-from-scratch balls. They're elegant, exquisite, and entirely edible. Mmmm, say it with me, cake balls.
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Melissa Grohman. A super-newbie on the scene, Melissa likes feeding her family homemade foods. Melissa's niche is all types of breads, particularly those made without that evil-doing high-fructose corn syrup and "a long list of unpronounceable ingredients," she explains. "HFCS-free bread does exist now, but it's expensive, filled with additives and preservatives, and neither smells nor tastes like bread." And though she doesn't make cakes, she does bake flavored breads and muffins; her orange-cinnamon is a favorite. Melissa's prices are competitive: about a $1 more per loaf than you can buy in the store for a much better product. Contact Melissa via email.
Houston's appetite for fresh-baked goods doesn't appear to be waning. And Houston-area dentists and weight loss clinics are rejoicing. Got a favorite local home baker we missed? Tell us!