Christine M. Kilzek
A math problem about muffins was the first clue that Kristin Zenz might be a baker. While it’s just one way the elementary school student learns fractions, she can’t stop thinking about muffins. She wants to go home and make recipes.
She has been baking ever since. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy to start with, it’s mostly for fun. As a speech therapist in the Milwaukee Public Schools, she bakes bread whenever she can. Last summer, she decided to use her extra time to start a baking business, adding skills and more recipes while gaining confidence.
Chozzie’s Bakery officially opened in May 2022, and she began selling at Menomonee Falls Farmers Market. This home baker is constantly challenging himself while learning what people like. She continues to offer her best-selling chocolate chip cookies, almond croissants and scotch, as well as seasonal treats, while expanding her range of cinnamon rolls, cakes and hand-decorated cookies.
Menus and information for custom orders are available at chozziesbakery.comFind Zenz and her baked goods at the re:Craft & Relic Winter Market on January 28 and 29 at the Milwaukee County Sports Complex, 6000 W. Ryan Road, Franklin, featuring more than 150 stalls. Zenz will also be available on February 4th from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Root River Center, 7220 W. Rawson Ave., Franklin. She’ll be back at the Menomonee Falls Farmers Market every Wednesday beginning June 21.
how did she start
I have always loved baking. I’m not very experimental, just chocolate chip cookies or cake. Then in college, I would bake bread on the weekends. When I get to work, I bake bread and take things to the break room because I love to bake but I don’t want to eat it by myself. I started looking into recipe development and science, changing ingredients to see how to make thicker, chewier cookies. I discovered how much science there is in baking and I love that.
early kitchen adventures
The first thing I remember doing, and really wanting to do, was a muffin recipe from a math workbook. It’s all about learning fractions, but I want to go home and make that recipe.
summer kicks off
I have summer vacation. I am the speech therapist for the school. I’ve done summer school and I just wanted to do something different. I also bake a lot, far more than I eat. I just went to the Menomonee Falls Market last summer. That’s the beginning.
accept the challenge
This started as a hobby. When I realized I liked it, I thought I could turn it into a business. I love all aspects, even the challenges.
name her company
I thought and thought and couldn’t think of anything. I wanted something sensual, but all the cuteness has been taken away. I ended up combining the names of my two cats: Chozzie’s Bakery.
behind the business
Right now I’m baking at home, but eventually I may move to a commercial space. In the summer and fall, I bake five days a week. I gave myself a little time after Christmas. Soon I’ll be doing Valentine’s Day recipes and baking four days a week and growing a custom order business.
Fan Mail Fun
I love the pictures people send me. I made Iron Man cookies last week. Whoever bought them, her little one absolutely loves them. It makes me very happy.
her all time favorite
Chocolate chip cookies are a classic and can be found everywhere. I like them all, but I always feel like something is missing. Everyone likes it differently, but everyone likes them all. I use science to find my cookies.
The first craft/relic event was much busier and on a much larger scale than I was used to. The first Saturday, I got home and had to bake another five hours because they were sold out. That’s fine, but I definitely don’t want to stay up all night. The hardest part is knowing how much to bake. What sells in one area may not be as popular at another event. Every event is so different, you don’t want to overeat and end up with leftovers.
why she likes this
I don’t really do crafts myself, but I’ve always enjoyed seeing crafts and going to craft shows. I love being there to support the vendors, I really enjoy interacting with the people. You get to know directly what they’re interested in, and you get it right away.
I’ve done a lot from Waterford to Menomonee Falls and everything in between. Scones do well in Menomonee Falls, but not so much in Waterford. It is capable of making different recipes for different audiences.
best selling snacks
It could be my almond croissants or my chocolate chip cookies. I also made scotch biscuits with chocolate chips, butterscotch and peanut butter. That did a good job.
beyond the basics
I’m tired of cookies. I want more challenges. Yeast doughs really appeal to me, partly because they are a challenge.
I just made more pastries last summer. The croissants and cinnamon rolls were fun. I love making cakes and cupcakes. I’ve also been trying to grow my decorating cookie business. I’m working on some valentine options for special order. I also make bread in winter, which is usually saltier.
Her recent cookbook
I find a lot of inspiration in recipes. I read a lot of blogs. My most recent cookbook purchase is “The Perfect Cookie” from America’s Test Kitchen. They have just about every cookie you can imagine. I love all the notes they put in there so you can see how things are going. I also have the America’s Test Kitchen cake and pie book. They are very detailed.
Custom orders are welcome
If decorating cookies or cakes, I would ask for a week’s notice. To drop a cookie, I need two days or more notice.
Now I also make more traditional cakes, vanilla cake, confetti, red velvet, cookies and cream, and I’m working on expanding the vegan and gluten free options as well. In every market, at least five people ask about gluten-free options. I didn’t realize how many people need or want to be vegan and gluten free. This is something people are asking for, so I wanted to add that.
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