Charles Town bakery owner makes edible works of art - WTRF 7 News Sports Weather - Wheeling Steubenville

Charles Town bakery owner makes edible works of art

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Missy Sheehan / For The State Journal. Blakeley Street Bakery owner Sarah Schottler shows a set of custom cookies she made for a wedding as well as some beach-themed cookies she’s currently working on. Missy Sheehan / For The State Journal. Blakeley Street Bakery owner Sarah Schottler shows a set of custom cookies she made for a wedding as well as some beach-themed cookies she’s currently working on.
Missy Sheehan / For The State Journal. Sarah Schottler specializes in custom-made cookies, like the wedding-themed cookies pictured. Schottler says the secret to their great taste is freshness and quality ingredients. Missy Sheehan / For The State Journal. Sarah Schottler specializes in custom-made cookies, like the wedding-themed cookies pictured. Schottler says the secret to their great taste is freshness and quality ingredients.
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By MISSY SHEEHAN

For The State Journal

Charles Town resident and bakery owner Sarah Schottler is an artist — and sugar cookies are her canvas. Each cookie that comes from her kitchen is baked to order and then lovingly decorated by hand.

“It’s like painting, but with a different medium,” Schottler said. “There’s so much you can do with different stencils, food marker pens, even airbrushing — it’s all about getting the right consistency of your icing.”

Schottler owns the Blakeley Street Bakery, a small, specialty bakery based in Charles Town that specializes in custom-made cookies. She started her business two years ago and recently opened her own shop at 14826 Charles Town Road in Charles Town.

Unlike many bakeries, with their glass cases stocked full of tasty delights, Schottler’s bakery is open only by appointment. And everything she makes — from cookies to cupcakes — is custom.

Schottler said most of her customers already know exactly what they want when they call her.

“They want their cookies to look exactly like what they saw on Pinterest, so they’ll send me all these images, which is really neat,” Schottler said. “Those are the people that I cater to.”

Custom-Made Confections

Prior to starting her business in 2012, Schottler, a registered nurse, had been baking and hand-decorating sugar cookies for friends and family on the side while working part time in Northern Virginia several days a week.

“I’ve always been into baking,” said Schottler, who uses her mother’s sugar-cookie recipe. “I grew up making these same sugar cookies with my sisters and brother every Christmas.”

Schottler’s idea to start a custom bakery stems from cookies she made for her own wedding 13 years ago after being inspired by a feature in Martha Stewart Living. “It was like two weeks before my wedding, and I undertook this project of baking 130 cookies and decorating them to match the cake my mom had made,” Schottler said. “After that people started saying, ‘Remember when you did that? Can you do that for me?’ So that’s how it started.”

Schottler began making her cookies at home, before eventually renting space in a commercial kitchen in Vienna, Virginia. Last April, she purchased the house her husband, Robert, converted into a 780-square-foot commercial kitchen space from which she now runs her business.

‘As Good as They Look’

Schottler’s cookies and desserts are more than just pretty on the outside.

“The best feedback I’ve gotten is that my cookies taste just as good as they look,” she said.

“I think in general the decorated sugar cookie has gotten a bad rap,” Schottler added. “People think they look good but probably don’t taste that great, but that’s because those cookies in the store have been there a long time — they’re like four months old at least.”

The secret to great taste is using quality ingredients and freshness, Schottler said.

“There aren’t any preservatives in my cookies — if it’s a lemon cookie, I use lemon zest. I use pure extracts, no imitations,” she said. “I think that’s part of what makes it a really good-tasting cookie.”

Schottler also uses eggs from local farmers markets and butter from the South Mountain Creamery in nearby Middletown, Maryland.

“Their butter has a higher fat content, so it makes everything better, especially my buttercream icing,” she said.

Her sugar cookies come in flavors such as vanilla, lemon, raspberry and chocolate. She also makes specialty cookies like French macaroons, coconut macaroons and classics like chocolate-chip and gingerbread, as well as cupcakes and cakes.

Local and Beyond

Schottler’s cookies have been a hit throughout the Eastern Panhandle and surrounding areas.

“I have a bunch of really good local clients that order for every birthday,” she said.

Schottler also does cookies for events such as weddings, baby showers, communions and baptisms.

Logo cookies for trade shows and giveaways have been popular for area businesses, Schottler said. She can either hand-draw logos on cookies or print them using special food-coloring ink and sugar sheets, which are pressed on the cookies when wet and left to dry.

“The best thing about cookies is that they can be shipped,” Schottler said. About 70 percent of her business is made up of orders that she ships to customers all over the country.

“I have a few good clients in New York City — by the time they pay to ship them there, it’s cheaper than what they can get from bakeries in the city,” she said.

Since she started her business, Schottler also has made cookies for some major events, including a party thrown by Maya Angelou before she died and for the 2012 election edition of The Times of London newspaper, which featured her Mitt Romney- and Barack Obama-themed cookies on the front page.

Rising Success

Looking to the future, Schottler said she hopes to keep growing her business. Back in February, she won a micro-grant at Entrepreneurs’ Cafe, an Eastern Panhandle forum that builds community support and awards micro-grants to entrepreneurs seeking to kick-start their businesses.

Schottler said she’s using the almost $900 she won at the Cafe to hire a web designer to build a new website that should be launched in the next month or so.

“I thought if I have a website where people can order online, that would streamline my process,” she said.

Schottler also is looking forward to helping other entrepreneurs grow their businesses.

“Part of the reason we built a commercial kitchen is to rent it out to other specialty bakers like me,” she said. “I guess you’d call it a food incubator — you have all these people who have a great product but maybe don’t have the resources to get their own kitchen yet, or maybe don’t need a whole kitchen to themselves.

“I’m excited to have other like-minded people here who are excited and passionate about what they’re doing. That’s another way I see my business growing.”

For details about Blakeley Street Bakery, call 304-279-6774, email sarah@blakeleystreetbakery.com or go online and visit blakeleystreetbakery.com.

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