The Bake Sale is sweet tooth central. The cases are a trove of indulgent offerings from bakeries near and dear: Simma’s cheesecake, Cranky Al’s doughnuts, Allie Boy’s bagels. You’ll spot muffins from Canfora, scones and pastries from Stone Creek Coffee and Troubadour Bakery, as well as a shelf stocked with loaves from Breadsmith. And that’s just the beginning.
Owner Mark Lutz – who owns several businesses on this stretch of Becher Street including West Allis Cheese & Sausage Shoppe – appreciates a lot of sweet treats made by businesses around town. He thought, why not create a hub where you can find all this goodness in one place? Then there were his neighbors, “giving me guff. ‘Mark, can you open a bakery?’” says Lutz.
But The Bake Sale isn’t just a collective of goods from around Milwaukee. It specializes in its own baked delights as well – pies, cupcakes and cookies. “We only want to be good at a couple things,” says Lutz, who met the woman he ultimately hired as lead baker and manager when she applied for a job at his nearby butcher shop, BecherMeats. Allison Collard, who’s worked for Honeypie Café and Classy Girl Cupcakes, brings a classic Americana feel to her baking: crispy crumble toppings on her fruit pies, sparkly sprinkles and mini peanut butter cups scattered across her brownies, cupcakes in old school flavors like German chocolate cake.
Several of her pastries made it into boxes that traveled home with me – though I couldn’t resist breaking off pieces of a chewy, slightly gooey chocolate chip meringue bar while I was driving ($4.50). The Bake Sale’s German chocolate cupcake balanced the light, not-too-sweet chocolate cake with smooth swirls of buttercream frosting laced with coconut and pecans ($4.50).
The pies, in varieties sweet and savory, were even better. Cherry hand pies, Denver omelet pasties and chocolate pistachio cream pies were among the temptations. A slice of traditional French silk called to me with its tender pastry crust and mousse-like filling under a fluffy cloud of whipped cream ($7 per slice). I hadn’t had French silk in years and was thrust into fits of nostalgia by this decadent childhood treat. While the crust on my mini blue-black (berry) pie was a little overbaked, the filling was plump with fruit and not too sweet ($8). And the chicken pot pie combined a creamy filling of diced meat, peas and carrots with a light, flaky phyllo crust, which made for a filling, delicious lunch ($5).
Lutz has more sweet plans in the coming months, beginning with a buildout for a 2,000-square-foot baking room adjacent to the Bake Sale building so that the bakers no longer have to make desserts at Lutz’s cheese chop across the street. And down the pike, he sees the potential for baking classes as well as crossover events, like wine and dessert pairings, at the cheese shop. This shop is a microcosm of mmm.
6923 W. Becher St., West Allis
Hours: Tues-Sat 7 a.m.- 4 p.m.; Sun 7 a.m.-2 p.m.
Prices: $2-$8 for single-serving items
Service: Friendly, quick