Kristine M. Kierzek
A math problem about muffins was the first hint that Kristin Zenz might become a baker. Even though it was just supposed to be a way for the elementary school student to learn fractions, she couldn’t stop thinking about the muffins. She wanted to go home and make the recipe.
It has been burning ever since. It wasn’t necessarily anything fancy to begin with, and mostly just for fun. Working as a speech therapist for the Milwaukee Public Schools, she baked whenever she had time. Last summer she decided to use the extra time she had and started a baking business, adding skills and new recipes as she gained confidence.
Chozzie’s Bakery officially opened in May 2022, and began selling at the Menomonee Falls Farmers Market. As the local baker learned what people like, she continued to set challenges for herself. She continues to offer her best-selling chocolate chip cookies, almond croissants and scotcherooses, plus seasonal favorites, while expanding to include cinnamon rolls, cakes and hand-decorated cookies.
Menu and a la carte ordering information available at chozziesbakery.com. Look for Zenz and her cupcakes Jan. 28 and 29 at the re:Craft & Relic Winter Fair with more than 150 booths at the Milwaukee County Sports Complex, 6000 W. Ryan Road, Franklin. Zenz will also be sold from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Feb. 4 at the Root River Center, 7220 W. Rawson Ave., Franklin. They will be back at the Menomonee Falls Farmers Market, held on Wednesdays starting June 21st.
How she started
I have always enjoyed baking. I haven’t really experimented, just chocolate chip cookies or cake. Then at college I baked on the weekends. When I started working, I would bake and bring things to the break room because I love to bake, but I don’t want to eat everything myself. I got into recipe development and science, tweaking ingredients to see how to make a cookie that was thicker and easier to chew. I learned how much science goes into baking and I loved it.
Early Kitchen Adventures
The first thing I remember making, and really wanting to make, was a recipe for muffins in my math workbook. It was all about learning fractions, but I wanted to go home and make that recipe.
I have summers off. I am a speech therapist in schools. I had summer school and I just wanted to do something different. I also baked a lot, much, much more than I could ever eat. I just tried the Menomonee Falls Market last summer. That was the beginning.
This started as a hobby. When I realized I liked it, I thought well, I could turn this into a business. I like all aspects, even with the challenges.
Naming her job
I thought and thought and couldn’t think of anything. I wanted something sentimental, but everything sweet is already taken. I ended up combining two of my cats’ names: Chozzie’s Bakery.
I’m currently baking everything from my house, but I may eventually move to a commercial space. In summer and autumn, I baked five days a week. After Christmas I gave myself some free time. I’ll soon be whipping up my Valentine’s Day recipes and baking four days a week and growing a custom order business.
Fun fan mail
I love the pictures people send me. Last week I made Iron Man cookies. The person who bought them, her little one really liked them. That made me happy.
Her all time favorite
The chocolate chip cookie is something that is classic and found everywhere. I liked them all, but I always thought something was missing. Everyone likes differently, but everyone loves them. I used science to find my cookie.
The first craft/relic event was much busier than I’m used to, much larger in scope. That first Saturday I came home and had to bake for another five hours because I sold out. That was good, but I definitely didn’t want to be up all night. The hardest part is knowing how much to bake. What sells in one area may not be as popular at another event. Every event is so different, and you don’t want to have too much and end up with leftovers.
Why does she like this
I don’t really do crafts, but I’ve always enjoyed looking at crafts and going to craft shows. I love being there to support sellers and really enjoy interacting with people. You can find out firsthand what they are interested in, and you can find out right away.
I’ve done things from Waterford to Menomonee Falls and in between. Scones did very well in Menomonee Falls, but not so well in Waterford. It is the ability to create different recipes for different audiences.
Best selling snacks
Probably either my almond croissant or my chocolate chip cookie. I also make scotcheroo cookies, with chocolate chips and butter and peanut butter. That’s going pretty well.
Beyond the basics
I’m bored of cookies. I wanted more of a challenge. I was very intrigued by risen doughs, partly because they are a challenge.
Last summer I worked on more pastry stuff. Croissants and cinnamon buns were fun. I love making cakes and cupcakes. I’ve also been working more on developing the decorated cookie side of the business. I am working on some Valentine options for special orders. In the winter I also bake bread, usually more salty.
The latest cookbook she bought
I find a lot of inspiration in cookbooks. I look at a lot of blogs. The latest cookbook I bought is “The Perfect Cookie” by America’s Test Kitchen. They have almost every cookie you could ever imagine. I love all the notes they put in there so you can see how things are progressing. I also have the America’s Test Kitchen cake and pie books. They are very detailed.
Custom orders welcome
If it is a decorated cookie or cake, I would ask a week in advance. Throw away the cookies, I need two or more days notice.
I’m currently making more traditional cakes, vanilla cakes, confetti, red velvet, biscuits and cream, and I’m also working on expanding vegan and gluten-free options. At every market, at least five people would ask about gluten-free items. I didn’t know how many people needed or wanted vegan and gluten-free. It’s something people are asking for, so I want to add it.
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Jaw. Spoon. Life. investigates the everyday attitude of local dignitaries (in the food community and outside) towards food. To suggest future personalities for the profile, please email [email protected]