When Evan Sanderson and Stephanie Baker connected through a bakery website, neither lady ever imagined forming a baking partnership, one that has resulted several years later in the opening of a chic bakery, The Boutique Bakeshop. Possibly Herndon’s latest small business to open, the store exudes the enticing aroma of baked goods with a subtle underlay of chocolate. Assorted chairs, tables, shelves, flowers, and displays of sweet treats beguile the senses. You end up declaring: I want that cupcake. Or, what about that chocolate chip cookie?
While patrons ponder their caloric choices, they should know that these two ladies bring to the business both dedication and baking skills. With her dark hair pulled back, Evan Sanderson explains her long-term passion for baking. It started, she says, during college, where she got a Masters in sports psychology. Then it was just a pastime that really intrigued her, so much so that even after graduation when she took a job with the government, she continued to spend free time baking, even starting a wedding cake business.
“My family is from Herndon,” she says, as she tells how she put out feelers to other local bakers and bakeries with the intention of at least sharing kitchen space. When she connected with her now-colleague Stephanie Baker—the only online baker who answered her—they ended up meeting and talked for four hours about their shared love for baking. “That was one year ago,” she says. “At first, we just discussed sharing kitchen space as we each did our own wedding cake business. Then we thought about getting more exposure and about bringing a bake shop to Herndon. Then we decided to open a shop.”
Although Sanderson has had no formal training in the pastry arts, Baker attended the Culinary Institute of America (CIA). “I had always enjoyed baking as a hobby,” she says, noting that after college, she had not found any real career direction. Instead, she was earning money by temping. “Nearby in my small New York town,” she says, “there was a cute bakery, and I got a part-time job there. The owner suggested I go to baking school. I called the CIA and entered into their pastry program.”
After graduation, Baker worked in various high-end restaurants such as Emeril and the now-definct DC eatery Red Sage. She even baked in Manhattan’s Russian Tea Room, gaining valuable experience. When she ended up in Northern Virginia working for a local caterer, she was assigned to make wedding cakes. That’s when she started her own wedding cake business.
When the two officially launched The Boutique Bakeshop a year ago, its original location, also in Herndon, was tucked away and hard to find. As fate would have it, however, their present location opened up, and to their great delight, the former occupants left behind everything, including all the kitchen equipment and furniture.
Now in this location for about one month, the ladies have found their business growing rapidly, primarily by word of mouth. Besides, says Sanderson, her family as long-time Herndon residents, know many people. It also helps to draw in business when customers find an intimate bakeshop where the owners make all from scratch and will customize orders as needed. As Baker notes, “Our moms were both bakers, so what we do reminded us of when we were kids. It is comfort food.”
Makes 12 jumbo muffins
5 cups all-purpose flour
2 ¼ cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ cups sour cream
1 cup buttermilk
½ cup vegetable oil
½ cup melted butter
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups blueberres
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin pan with papers or spray with nonstick cooking spray.
Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder salt and baking soda together in a large mixing bowl. In a second bowl, whisk together the eggs, sour cream buttermilk, vegetable oil, melted butter and vanilla extract. Fold the wet mixture into the dry mixture. Fold in the blueberries. Use an ice cream scoop or similar large spoon to fill each muffin cup.
Bake for 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Check for doneness with a toothpick inserted in the center. The cupcakes are done when it comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool.