These smaller-scale businesses may not be equipped with a storefront, but what they lack in commercial real estate, they make up for in creative and flavorful concepts
Photo: Provided by Fat Ben’s BakeryThe Greater Cincinnati area is brimming with delectable bakeries and sweets purveyors to sink your teeth into. But while a visit to your local bake shop is always a treat, there are plenty of talented pastry artists and bakers who are whipping up their mouthwatering bites from alternative spaces.
These smaller-scale businesses may not be equipped with a brick-and-mortar storefront, but what they lack in commercial real estate, they make up for in creative and flavorful concepts, created in their places of dwelling.
We spoke with three local home bakery owners about their businesses and what sets them apart from other options in the area.
Just because you have dietary restrictions doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some decadent sweets. Celine Olivas is a self-taught baker who offers ketogenic treats to the masses. All of her creations are gluten-free, grain-free, sugar-free and soy-free. She also has dairy-free and completely vegan options. Being concerned with ingredients herself, each order comes with a detailed list of what goes into each baked good, along with nutritional facts.
Olivas started baking in this fashion when her family’s diet shifted to gluten-free for her 8-year-old son. When they switched fully to keto, they had trouble finding baked goods to satisfy their needs, so Olivas decided to make her own. With delicious treats like chocolate coconut donuts, white chocolate chip apricot and cardamom cookies, cinnamon rolls and brownies, patrons of her home-bakery miss out on none of the sweet delights.
In order to get a taste of Olivias’ keto treats, place an order on the Awesome Blossom Bakery website and your fresh, made-to-order treats will be ready to be picked up at her Springfield Township “home cottage bakery.” If you’re struggling with what to choose, Olivas recently began offering $20 sampler boxes.
Benjamin “Fat Ben” Arington, known for his over-the-top, imaginative pastry creations, has been in the pastry and food field for over 15 years. He says he was drawn to the industry as a way to utilize his energy in a creative way. According to Arington, he needed a way to keep his “jazz hands” busy, and the kitchen as an outlet suits him well. “Let’s be honest, you can’t put the ‘jazz hands’ guy in an office,” Arington says in an email interview.
Arington creates aesthetically pleasing treats, all while keeping it “weird” and pushing the boundaries of what conventional baked-goods should look like. He brings up the time he made a sunglasses-shaped brownie with candy cigarettes to resemble a piece Lady Gaga wore in her “Telephone” music video. “I mean, that’s the kind of stuff people are wanting from me. You go to your more traditional bakeries for your glazed donuts or whatever but you come to Fat Ben’s Bakery for the WOW factor,” he says.
He also dedicates a lot of his business to making cakes — from simple to elaborate — for celebrations like birthdays and weddings.
Arington says being able to run his business from home gives him a great deal of freedom, but it is also a challenge to stay relevant — a challenge that keeps things exciting, though. Arington does note that he has considered establishing a brick-and-mortar and hopes to potentially open one next year.
COVID has caused a huge break in Arington’s business with brides having to cancel and move their big days, but with an idea from his sister, he began offering pastry boxes — originally naming them “quarantine boxes” — to keep his business and passion afloat. And the response was explosive. Arington presents creative new themes weekly and keeps his fans updated with what’s coming via his Instagram. They usually come with 8 to 10 items for $23. Past themes have included a Boy Band Box, a Britney Spears box, a fall cookie box and a 1990s nostalgia box.
Arington handles inquiries through his social media, email and phone. He currently does not have a website for orders, so follow along on his Instagram for creation updates.
Tiffany Biddle, engineer, mother of two and baker is offering Southern-inspired stuffed cookies with her co-founder, husband Andrew Biddle.
Baking is rooted deep in her veins as her family has been baking together for generations, although she credits the times that she spent baking with her grandmother as when she grew her strong attachment to the craft.
“My ultimate goal with our cookie shop is to be an extension of my families legacy, produce the best stuffed cookies, put smiles on people’s faces, and leave people with happy bellies,” she said in an email interview.
The secret to the flavor of these goodies is the browned butter, says Biddle. The browning of the butter adds a nuttiness and richness, which develops a depth of flavor. Of course, the fillings — like cookie butter, Nutella and cream cheese — help.
Currently fulfilling orders from her Instagram page from her home kitchen with a full launch of her online shop on Sept. 8, the Biddles seems ready to take the business full steam ahead. They can deliver to anyone in the Cincinnati area but will still mail out orders to those outside of the city. A four-pack of these scrumptious stuffed snacks is priced at $26.
Biddle says wants to have a brick-and-mortar bakery in the future but does not have any solid plans as of now.