Annemarie Maitri Blooms Where She’s Planted
By Susan Gloss | Photo By Jim Klousia 2
Inside Bloom Bake Shop, a little boy leans on the display case and surveys the rows of cupcakes, brownies and cookies. When he steps away, he leaves fingerprints on the glass. Owner Annemarie Maitri doesn’t rush to wipe them away. “We smile at the end of the day at all the different-sized handprints up and down the bakery case,” she says.
The display case itself, not just the confections inside, is a work of art. Custom-crafted from locally-sourced wood, the case is the ideal stage for Bloom’s ever-changing array of sweets. Still, Annemarie isn’t afraid to let kids put their palms against it. Children have been an essential ingredient of her Middleton bakery’s success.
Annemarie’s three kids were the original tasters for her classic vanilla cupcake. When she was trying out recipes for the bakery, her children would come downstairs each morning to see an unfrosted vanilla cupcake on the breakfast table. They’d break open and smell the cupcake before tasting it. As Annemarie got closer to perfecting the butter-based recipe she’d eventually adopt for Bloom, her kids would say, “Mom, you’re almost there.”
And, indeed, Annemarie and Bloom Bake Shop have arrived on the local dessert scene in a fast and furious way. Although she opened her doors only two years ago, in February of 2010, already Annemarie and her staff are catering desserts for eighty-five weddings a year, in addition to the five days a week the shop is open. Add holiday orders and special events to that calendar, and you’re looking at one bustling little bakery.
Despite how busy Bloom has become, Annemarie subscribes to a “slow food” mentality, baking in small batches throughout the day. What’s on the menu depends on what’s in season locally.
“The farmers market is my inspiration,” Annemarie says. “My staff and I are constantly thinking about creative ways to highlight the best of what ingredients are available.”
For instance, Annemarie spent most of last summer perfecting her fruit cobbler recipe. She wanted it to be reminiscent of something simmering in a cast-iron skillet, and she wasn’t satisfied until she felt she had captured that flavor and feeling in a cupcake. The recipe she chose, which carries just a touch of tartness and crunch, can be adapted to incorporate whatever fruit happens to be in season.
Annemarie’s baking isn’t the only aspect of her life that has adapted. Her career path has changed a lot, too. After obtaining bachelor’s and master’s degrees, Annemarie worked in the worlds of non-profits and pharmaceutical sales. She also spent a few years at home with her kids before the idea for Bloom began to take shape.
“I knew I wanted to start a business, and when I started thinking about what kind of business it would be, there were two things I knew it had to incorporate,” she says. “Number one was dessert and number two was my passion for farm-to-table food.”
Annemarie realizes, though, that it’s one thing to love to bake and it’s another thing to know if the numbers, business plan and other practicalities will work out. Before she committed to opening a bakery, she wanted to experience the inner-workings of one firsthand.