In her new home of Columbia, Missouri, it wasn’t easy for Julie Hutton to find a French connection – a linkage to the land where she was born and raised. So, she created one from scratch.
Her one-woman bakery, Frenchy Treats, was born from this longing for home, coupled with her own passion for baking. From the commissary kitchen owned by B&B Bagel Co., Hutton makes small-batch French macarons and croissants to sell at the Columbia Farmers Market, Plume and for custom orders. Macarons, packaged by the half or full dozen in Tiffany blue boxes, come in six flavors: dark chocolate, coconut, vanilla, coffee, hazelnut-chocolate and raspberry. (If you have a specific flavor in mind, send Hutton a line – she just might be able to accommodate your request.) Her flaky French croissants, meanwhile, are available in two varieties: plain and chocolate. She’s found success during her first winter season at the farmers' market, where she often sells out well before the closing bell.
The new location offers a pared-down menu from the original bagel shop.
What started as a part-time venture quickly turned into a full-time job. “Funny enough, I decided to have a very narrow number of products, so you would think that it would be a part-time kind of job,” she says. Most of her time is dedicated to the croissants, which take days to complete from start to finish. “I always bake the croissants the day of the sale, but two days prior I start the dough in the afternoon,” Julie says. “The next day, I insert the butter, and then the morning of, I get up very early to roll the croissants out and proof them for two hours, then bake them.” So, if you see Hutton at the Columbia Farmers Market, you know she’s already well into her morning routine.
But for her, it’s truly a labor of love, and a pastime that brings back memories from her childhood in France. The recipes have come together that way, too – a half-and-half mix of research and experience. “All my family is back in France, and my mom went to all the specialized libraries on professional baking and training, and mailed me all the good books so I could practice and read,” Hutton says. “I tried so many croissant recipes before it tasted like what I remember was a good croissant. [My recipe] is based on my own tasting, my own memories, my own nostalgia.” The key to a good croissant, she says, is the butter, which took trial and error to find. “My one difficulty is just finding the right French butter,” she says. A “dry butter,” which has a higher fat content, works best. “It stretches better, it resists better. Finding that has been difficult. But the flour is excellent here, and the eggs are farm eggs from the market.”
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Frenchy Treats might be a one-woman shop, but Hutton hasn’t been alone on her business journey. She credits much of her success to the help received from those at the B&B commissary kitchen, including B&B Bagel owner Brad Newkirk. “I have received so much support from the team here, and used such great equipment, which I could not have done all by myself,” she says.
“Brad is a great mentor to everyone who’s using the kitchen. Being a beginner at starting a company – and I am not a trained baker; it’s all coming from passion and practice – it’s good to have someone from the industry to make sure one, that you’re compliant, and two, to give helpful advice. I was making a tower of macarons for a baby shower, and Brad came over and said ‘hold on – it needs to look fuller’. So in my mind, the aesthetic was good, but in a practical business sense it would seem like it was too sparse for the client.”
This sharp business sense, coupled with Hutton's natural talent and passion for baking, has made Frenchy Treats a quick culinary favorite in Columbia. She can’t help the desire to make food the center of her world, she says – it’s a French thing. “As a kid, we would be baking every weekend, making meringues, making Black Forest [cake], it’s always been a fun pastime. And all my family talks about, and probably all of the French, is ‘what are we eating next?’”
Luckily for Columbia diners, that answer could well be Frenchy Treats. Head to the Columbia Farmers Market or Plume, or place a custom order get your Frenchy Treats fix.
Frenchy Treats, frenchytreats.com