Baked Bliss: A Christmas Miracle Every Day
The next time you’re craving a sweet treat and don’t know where to turn, make your way toward Cameron Park and sidle up to Baked Bliss on 15th Street.
Once there, you’ll find tender, slightly dense (in a good way) cinnamon buns smothered in vanilla-laced cream cheese frosting, a slew of tall, moist cupcakes sporting two-inch swirls of frosting, and a wide selection of scones, cookies, kolaches, and savory egg dishes.
A Sweet-Tooth’s Paradise
Kim Culter, the owner of Baked Bliss, is a whiz with her oven, and the menu reflects her self-taught baking skills and innate talent. Her cupcakes are enormously tall and very sweet, featuring a moist tender crumb that Cutler uses to incorporate flavors such as rich chocolate, mocha, vanilla, and lemon.
The Italian cream cupcake, a delightful, old-school recipe that’s hard to find these days, is flecked with bits of pecan and coconut, topped with a large swirl of cream cheese frosting, and sprinkled with toasted coconut flakes. The strawberries n’ cream cupcake is all berry, all the time, hiding sweet, fresh strawberries at the base of a strawberry cake and topped with a generous dollop of strawberry cream cheese frosting. You can’t go wrong here, and a selection of these beautifully packaged cupcakes is guaranteed to make you very popular at your next gathering.
For those with a more savory bent, the kolaches are a welcome alternative to Shipley’s (not knocking that venerable Waco establishment, but variety is the spice of life). You might balk at the $6.15 price tag, but these babies are big, roughly 6 x 3 inches, and contain a full-sized smoked sausage nestled in a blend of cheddar and pepper jack cheeses. The soft, slightly sweet dough is in perfect ratio to the meaty-cheesy interior, so you won’t be left with great mouthfuls of bready ends as you munch.
The jalapeno sausage kolache incorporates pickled jalapenos for a slightly spicy and acidic counterbalance to all that delicious fat. Plus, many of the kolaches are available in mini sizes, should you have trouble deciding which ones to try.
Gluten-averse customers will find stellar gluten-free doppelgangers of many items from the main menu. This includes a wonderfully bright orange-cranberry scone that features none of the crumbly dryness that plagues many gluten-free baked goods.
And before you leave, don’t forget to try the spectacular raspberry crumble bar, a dense-yet-tender shortbread cookie that supports a gooey, house-made raspberry filling topped with a wonderfully crunchy crumble.
A Mission To Create Bliss
If you ate a cinnamon bun from Magnolia in 2015 or 2016, it was likely from Baked Bliss. For a while before opening a storefront, Cutler was making vast quantities of cinnamon buns for Magnolia. (They are that good!) Inspired by her mother Alice’s home recipes, Cutler tweaked and tested the cinnamon buns for larger-scale production until perfection was achieved.
But it was years before she began wholesaling to Magnolia that Cutler began dreaming of opening her own bakery. After pouring years of service into missionary work with local Waco kids, Cutler found herself diagnosed with several chronic health conditions, including adrenal fatigue, which left her body on fire with pain after four to five hours of working. She wanted to translate her love for baking into a local business but didn’t know how to go about it. She prayed a lot back then, asking heaven for guidance.
“For a while, heaven was silent,” says Cutler. “It was a Christmas miracle that this bakery is even here because of my health issues. And God was silent. My doctor said I shouldn’t be working my job at Starbucks, but I didn’t want to go on disability. I want to live for something beyond that next paycheck or watching the next TV show.”
Eventually, she received the sign she was praying for and quit her job at Starbucks to start her bakery. A close friend at Mission Waco helped her purchase an old gas station on 15th Street, which she fixed up as a production kitchen. Her father helped build a handsome deck for customers outside, and a family friend gave her an old FEMA trailer that was left over from Hurricane Katrina, which she converted into a retail space to sell her wares. And then, in 2016 Baked Bliss was born.
It hasn’t been easy. Health issues continue to dog Cutler’s footsteps, and moments of doubt creep in when her body is exhausted and hurting from the rigors of running a small food business.
“If I am inviting God into that place of pain, I can say, ‘Okay, you’re going to pull this off.’ Because he initiated this idea. I can’t tell you how many times in the last few years I’ve gone, ‘This is your harebrained idea, Jesus. This wasn’t mine. You’re going to have to pull it off.’ But when I’m getting in over my head and I look at all of my disabilities, I know he’s seen me and he’s heard me and somehow, we will make it.”
With her faith and the help of a dedicated and talented staff, Cutler is indeed making it. And the continued support of her local community nourishes her passion for service.
Tater Tot Casserole
If you’re wondering what bakers eat when they hang up their aprons, it ain’t cupcakes. The truth is, busy bakers often struggle to make time for meals that aren’t sugar-and-flour-based. Cutler’s mom Alice found this recipe in the ‘70s through a coworker, and it’s become a family favorite. It comes together quickly, so you can put up your feet while it bakes and let the scent of melting cheese whet your appetite for the comfy meal ahead.
This recipe serves 12-15 people, so look forward to leftovers, or halve it for a smaller gathering.
1, 2 lb. bag tater tots, thawed in fridge
4 green onions, diced
½ stick (4 oz.) margarine or butter
2, 10 ¾ oz. cans cream of chicken soup
1 c sour cream
dash of salt and pepper
2 c (8 oz.) grated cheddar cheese – divided in half
Preheat oven to 350° F.
Place thawed tater tots in a greased 9 x 13-inch casserole dish, chopping them with the edge of a spoon so they are no longer whole. Sauté onions in margarine or butter. Add remainder of ingredients, reserving 1 cup of cheese for top. Spoon mixture over tater tots and top with remaining cheese. Bake for about 30–40 minutes or until bubbly and serve hot.
“Bliss means heavenly joy or heavenly salvation,” says Cutler. “Whatever religion you walk in, heaven is a beautiful, wonderful place full of love. That’s what I want this place to be. We exist to create bliss.”
Experience sugary nirvana at Baked Bliss, and be sure to take home a few extras. They keep well, and your future self will thank you.
Baked Bliss is located at 1114 North 15th Street and is open Tuesday and Wednesday from 8 am to 2 pm, Thursday and Friday from 8 am to 5 pm, and Saturday from 8 am to 2 pm. You can order online, and you can also order custom, hand-decorated cakes.
Learn more about Waco’s local food scene on the Waco Insider podcast Eat, Drink, Repeat, hosted by Angelica Mazé.
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