Salt Lake City’s baking underground


It’s bizarre to think anything positive came from the Covid years.  The pandemic seems to have been the catalyst for creating some cottage baking heavyweights in Salt Lake City. A wide variety of items like filled donuts, sourdough bread, and Middle Eastern sweets are suddenly available. All beginning from home kitchen in the last three years. While some have moved from their humble beginning to brick-and-mortar shops, others remain more covert, incorporating a pop-up schedule from commissary kitchens. It’s been fun to see these companies become staples in the city, bringing wonderful new food options.  Let me introduce you to a few culinary pioneers, plus give you the location so that you can indulge in their creations.

Finding cottage baked goods in Salt Lake City is not difficult, but you do have to know where to look. Some providers have booths at farmers markets while others operate with a drop off or pick up system. With regulations skewing toward the producer, it’s easier than ever to incubate a business. All you need is a vision and talent. Then you can make it happen. Here is a rundown of a few of my favorites. I’ll give a brief background, tell you where to locate them, and offer food recommendations. Have your wallet ready and prepare your stomach for some of the best underground baked goods in Utah.

Aziza

Aziza SLC - sampler
Aziza SLC – sampler

You can’t talk about cottage baking in Salt Lake City without mentioning Aziza. Aziza is one of the OGs (incredible, exceptional, original) of cottage baking and beloved in the local food community. Founder Menna Rashwan began selling Egyptian food to share her culture and passion for cooking. While she makes savory dishes from time to time, her primary focus is pastries and sweets. Her signature dishes include cheese kanufa, kanufa cups, and various flavors of baklava. Menna has gained a respectable social media following as well as a die-hard local fan base. She is a fixture at downtown winter and summer farmers markets. I was late to the party in obtaining Aziza goods. After sampling just about everything she prepares, I am confident reporting that her creations are unusual and delightful. 

Finding Menna is easy. All you do is follow her on Instagram. She is an incredibly hard-working chef and that includes staying current and promoting her business on social media. As I mentioned before, you can find her at The Salt Lake City farmer’s market. It is difficult to recommend a single item. It’s best to try a sample pack.  The kanufa cups are divine although difficult to describe. The chocolate kanufa is like a cookie with a solid and decadent ganache in the middle. The flavor is beautiful and there is a lovely crunch with each bite. The cheese kanufa is enclosed and filled with halloumia, a traditional Cypriot cheese made with goat’s milk. It’s soft and pillowy, best served warm with a drizzle of rose syrup. If you prefer something larger, both can be ordered as full-sized dishes as well. Menna’s baklava is incredible. I am savvy when it comes to judging this pastry because I grew up devouring my Yaya’s baklava.  Menna’s definitely competes with my Yaya’s. It has a perfect balance of soft and crunchy due to layers of phyllo dough soaked in honey and chopped nuts. The pistachio baklava is my favorite.  But, like I said, you can’t go wrong with any of these exotic creations.

Mims Bakery

Mims Bakery - boule style loaf
Mims Bakery – boule style loaf

Mims Bakery has become another well known and sought after staple of baked goods. Tripp and Thy Mims began baking and selling sourdough bread in the beginning of the pandemic. The company quickly gained traction as people became familiar with not only the quality of their bread, but also the magnanimous personalities of the owners. Thy passed tragically last year, when two men fleeing the police ran a stop sign and T-boned Thy’s car. Tripp continues her legacy. Mims “bread and butter” (pun intended) are their irresistible sourdough boules and baguettes. They also make specialty items such as “sourdoughnies” and chocolate chip cookies.

Mims is particularly special because they capture the community aspect of our cottage baking ecosystem.  A number of people were inspired to bake and create because of them. Tripp runs his business in a personable and professional manner. Serving as the bakery is the Mim’s family garage.  It is a fully equipped and licensed commercial kitchen.  Several local cafes and restaurants such as Encircle Cafe, Cafe 140B, and Old Cuss. It is also available at The Neighborhood Hive and directly through mimsslc.com, their website. Tripp is a dedicated philanthropist and kind human being.  In my opinion cottage baking in Salt Lake City has grown due to the influence of Mims.

Chubby Baker

Chubby Baker - donut
Chubby Baker – donut

Chubby Baker is as a star of cottage baking and is something to behold.  Ying Nance began baking donuts out of her mother in law’s kitchen. Now Nance and her donuts have blossomed into a full scale brick and mortar business. A true success story I remember marveling at the beautiful, filled donuts on Chubby Baker’s Instagram feed.  I was impressed that these intricate pastries were made in a home kitchen. These are not your normal donuts.  They are works of art. I discovered Chubby Baker in the summer of 2020. No doubt Nance and her decadent creations offered joy between zoom meetings and covid news reports. 

Chubby Baker offers filled donuts with rotating flavors such as ube and guava. Also offered are a variety of tasty and gorgeous cakes. Gourmet drinks such as matcha and high end espresso are available. Chubby Baker is located near the Maven District in Salt Lake City.  The address is 317 East 900 South. I highly recommend trying one of each flavor. As a food lover due diligence is the price you pay.

Aziza, Mims and Chubby Baker are only three of the excellent cottage bakers in Salt Lake City.  There are many more to sample and taste.  I urge you to try get to know them because they are. Lady Flour, Tomodachi Bake Shoppe, The Dough Lady, Pie Party, Pies the Limit, Powder Peak, and Milky Coco Bread.  All are amazing. Follow them on Instagram and start ingratiating yourself into the baking underground. You will not be sorry!

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