She’s 23 and Living Her Dream at Bake Me Treats
POLAND, Ohio — It’s been nine months since Gabriele Brocker opened up her bakery and she remains smitten with owning her own business.
“I wanted to do wedding cakes,” she says, “but I had no idea it would turn into all of this.”
Bake Me Treats is in the heart of Poland, where Brocker grew up. It is also where the idea of owning her own bakery took root when she was in middle school, less than a quarter-mile away.
The 23-year-old says that business has been good since she opened last spring and the bakery itself is a dream come true.
“It’s definitely hard work, but it is fun at times,” Brocker says. “There’s perks like decorating and coming up with different flavors.”
Bake Me Treats offers a variety of coffee-based beverages for consumption inside and for takeout as well as her decorated cakes, cupcakes, pastries and a dessert for which she’s gaining a reputation, macarons and macaron ice cream sandwiches.
While macaron is French for macaroon, a macaron is not the coconut-based cookie Americans are familiar with. Instead, a macaron is made with almond flour and meringue — a sandwich cookie like an Oreo (but slightly smaller) and filled with meringue.
The selection she offers changes daily.
She makes everything in her kitchen, arriving at 5 a.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
If you could walk into Bake Me Treats at that hour, you’d see Brocker and Gina Giampietro at work. Giampietro says she enjoys working for Brocker because they agree on flavors and style. “Everything is made here and has a French style,” Giampietro says, “which is uncommon.”
The macarons, she elaborates, “look so fun and cute. They really grab people’s attention.”
Brocker picks up, “You can put any flavor into a macaron and have it taste good.”
The macarons, which come in a multitude of colors, are displayed in a showcase at the front. The colors reflect the different flavors and the assortment changes often. Because of the number of flavors and frequency of change, Brocker says she never tires of the confections.
She learned how to make macarons at Gaby et Jules in Pittsburgh.
Noticing that the Youngstown area had little opportunity to enjoy this type of cookie, she saw an opportunity and decided to take the initiative and change that.
Brocker began by baking macarons and selling them to Branch Street Coffee Roasters in Canfield and Generations Coffee House in Columbiana. After seeing how quickly they sold, she took the plunge by opening her own bakery that featured macarons in many flavors.
Brocker continues to provide Branch Street and Generations a hundred macarons each every week. And, because the cookie table is a staple at Mahoning Valley weddings, she also makes them in bulk for such events.
While little equipment is needed to make macarons, considerable time is (and patience). This, Brocker suggests, explains why other commercial bakeries in the Mahoning Valley seldom offer them and so few women (or men) make them at home.
“It’s all about finding a good recipe,” Brocker says, “and most of the recipes online aren’t good.”
One of her favorites is the buckeye macaron, Brocker says, which she had made every day since Bake Me Treats opened.
One customer, Tatum Marucci, says her favorite macaron flavor is lavender. Asked to name her favorite dessert, she is stumped. “Everything is delicious,” she replies. “I can’t even pick.”
Brocker’s biggest challenge has been learning to cope with everything seeming to happen at once. “The business aspect and stuff in the kitchen, it’s hard juggling all of it,” she says.
She’s been encouraged by the volume of customers and her parents “have been a huge help.” Her father, Brad Brocker, who owns Brocker Machine Inc. on Poland Avenue in Youngstown, has helped her develop an instinct for business, she says.
Orders are increasing for parties and wedding receptions and the flow of customers to her shop is rising, she reports, and not just macarons but cakes and other pastries as well. Word is getting out on social media such as Facebook and Instagram.
Her next goal – she doesn’t set a deadline – is to open a second Bake Me Treats.
“You have to be in love with what you’re doing and just stick with it no matter what,” Brocker says.
Pictured: Gabriele Brocker, owner and operator of Bake Me Treats in Poland.
Copyright 2023 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.