When I was in Ludington, Michigan a few weeks ago, I had the privilege of visiting a bakery/cafe that was absolutely charming. The owner, John, started it years ago on a shoestring budget, using a credit card for funding. He was kind enough to show me his kitchen and tell me how he got started.
John made a few things really well and established a customer base. His customers liked his baked goods so much, and they wanted to see the business succeed, that they started donating mugs, tables, chairs, anything they could to help him out. A local artist painted the floor with unique designs for free. He couldn't afford wallpaper, so he used old cookbooks to cover the walls of the bathrooms. He found used baking equipment and ovens to expand his menu. (He didn't even have an oven when he first started out!!)
Little by little, John's business grew and is now a local hangout and tourist destination in Ludington. He makes really good carrot muffins (I included a similar recipe below, though not his) and multi-grain bread. I didn't have a chance to have breakfast there, but I definitely will next time I visit Ludington. John was very encouraging toward my own dreams of starting a bakery.
My life goal is to open a bakery/cafe, using locally grown organic food, and run it as a social business. I have a heart for homeless people, and I want to hire and train homeless people to work in the bakery, and then eventually move on to other jobs, so that I could continue to train people. I would also use some of the profits to keep the bakery open a couple of weeknights and have it be a glorified soup kitchen. Homeless and hungry people could come in, sit at a table with others, and order from a fixed menu. Then, volunteers would serve them what they ordered. It would be a more dignified approach to feeding the hungry.
This is my dream, and I've come across quite a few bakery-owners and business people who have absolutely exuded confidence, making me hopeful that my dream will someday become a reality. Even though I have no business background and only have about five recipes that are truly menu-worthy, I'm working towards this dream.
What do you think? Will I succeed? What is your life passion, or are you still searching?
Adapted from a Gourmet 1998 recipe
1 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup turbinado sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 cups shredded carrots
1/2 cup pecans
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup sweetened flaked coconut
2 large eggs
1/2 cup plain yogurt (or 1/2 cup canola oil)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 Granny Smith apple, shredded
Preheat oven to 350°F. and oil a 12-muffin pan.
Into a large bowl sift together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt and whisk in sugar. Coarsely shred enough carrots to measure 2 cups and chop pecans. Add shredded carrots and pecans to flour mixture with raisins and coconut and toss well.
In a bowl whisk together eggs, yogurt, and vanilla. Coarsely shred the apple, omitting the core. Stir shredded apple into egg mixture and add to flour mixture, stirring until batter is just combined well. Divide batter among muffin cups, filling them almost full, and bake in middle of oven until puffed and a tester comes out clean, about 25-30 minutes.
Cool muffins in cups on racks 5 minutes before turning out onto racks to cool completely. Muffins keep in an airtight container at room temperature 5 days.