A new home-based bakery in Adams is whipping up sweet and savory treats, along with artisan breads and custom-made cakes.
Jessie Kratz opened The Shire Cottage Bakery from her 1 Upper Linden St. home just six weeks ago, launching the business over Facebook, Instagram and by word-of-mouth. The response has been so great that she's now going through 60 boxes of butter and 50 pounds of flour a week.
"I really didn't have any expectations about what was going to happen," Kratz said Wednesday during an interview at her home. "It's been amazing. I'm not from Adams originally and being a stay-at-home mom, I really didn't know anyone. I've met a lot of people in the last month."
She added, "I was shocked that people were so happy to be able to get artisan breads. I guess they haven't been able to get that, in town, for a while."
Kratz offers six types of artisan bread — sun-dried tomato and Parmesan, cheese (cheddar herb or garlic Parmesan), Asiago cheese, cinnamon swirl, maple sandwich and honey wheat sandwich — all made-to-order. But most recently, her biggest requests have been for croissants, muffins, cupcakes and cakes.
"Pumpkin [streusel] muffins are going like crazy right now," she said. "I've had a lot of requests for champagne cakes and, in the last week, for carrot cakes."
And while everything is baked-to-order, meaning orders must be placed at least 24 hours in advance, Kratz does offer "leftovers" for sale, daily, via the bakery's Facebook and Instagram pages.
"There are some items I just have to bake in certain numbers. Croissants are made by the dozen. If I only have one order for a half-dozen, I post the left over croissants to Facebook and Instagram. I usually have cupcakes available too," she said.
Wednesday, she debuted a new cupcake flavor, Sour Patch, which she offered, ready-for-pickup, a half-dozen for $24, via Facebook.
The gourmet cupcake — a vanilla bean cake filled with homemade strawberry jam and topped with a strawberry buttercream frosting and Sour Patch Kid candy — is of her own design.
"I first made these two years ago, for my son's high school graduation party. The kids love them," she said.
Her four children, ranging in ages from 5 to 20, have inspired a few of her flavor combinations, including her Fluffernutter cupcake, a vanilla cupcake filled with peanut butter and topped with vanilla marshmallow buttercream frosting and a drizzle of peanut butter.
"They all have their own preference. The youngest only likes plain cupcakes. One only likes chocolate cupcakes. Another only like vanilla cupcakes," she said.
The bakery's maple croissant, she said, was inspired by her family's farm in New Hampshire, where they have a sugarhouse.
"I had to come up with an original recipe for culinary school," she said. "We started with the basic formula for a croissant, but we had to make it our own. I decided to make one with maple syrup. I had to play with it a lot to come up with the formula for it."
Kratz graduated from the Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts' online program on Aug. 9.
"I've been at home with the kids for 20 years and I couldn't really figure out what I wanted to do when our youngest started school. I was going to wait until he turned 5, but then I found this online program, from a fully accredited school, with classes I could take any time. I could do it around everyone else's schedules," she said. "The program was only 13 months long, but it was a very intense 13 months."
With the full support of her children and husband, Justin Kratz, principal of Charles H. McCann Technical School, she enrolled in the program and began baking; documenting and photographing each pastry along the way.
"I had to learn food photography," she said. "I had to photograph every step, from prep to the finished product. I had these production sheets, where I had to fill out. I had classes about flavor and texture. We learned how to create our own recipes. I had 90-minute exams twice a week and an hour-long Zoom call each week ... If something goes wrong with a recipe, it's pretty evident [to the instructors] from the photographs or your documentation."
When she started the program, she wasn't quite sure what she would do after graduation, until she began hearing her instructors talk about cottage bakeries, an industry term for home or residential-based bakeries.
Kratz received her residential kitchen license from the town in July, but waited until she graduated to open her home bakery.
"I'm fully licensed, ServSafe certified and Allergen Awareness certified," she said. "I had a full-semester [class] on food allergens. I wear gloves and a mask when I'm baking, at all times, because I would want that."
The Shire Cottage Bakery offers dairy-free, vegan and "gluten-friendly" options.
"Gluten-friendly products are items made with gluten-free ingredients, but because they are made in a kitchen with gluten products, I can't say there isn't cross-contamination," she said. "I can make items for people with a gluten-free preference, but not for individuals with celiac disease or gluten allergies."