WAXAHACHIE — “Sugar, spice, and everything nice,” easily describes West Main Street’s newest addition to downtown Waxahachie's charming collective where Bittersweet Bakery is the new glittering jewel amongst the crown of restaurants. From eye-catching cupcakes and exquisite wedding cakes, that both delight in presentation and flavor, Bittersweet is a Waxahachie sensation.
Originating out of Corsicana in 2012, Angel Schiffer, owner of Bittersweet Bakery, wasn’t content with her location that was 40 minutes away. She knew the bakery’s future home was within the city limits of Waxahachie.
“I was at one of the downtown events at the Ladies Night Out, and I realized there’s not a bakery here and that this is my dream place to be. My family’s from here, and I always thought, ‘Where do you truly want to be?’ And it was always Waxahachie,” expressed Schiffer.
FROM IDEA TO REALITY
The sweet treat business began in October of 2015, opening its doors to a surge of Halloween cravings.
“The night before, I did a soft opening. I had all of my friends and family over here, so this place was packed. The day that we opened, it was raining and that whole weekend was kind of hard because it was a holiday. So we were super busy because we were new, it was a holiday, plus everybody was going into the cold season, so they wanted sweets and treats. As soon as you’d put product out, it would get snatched up — that was really fun,” Schiffer recalled.
Although Bittersweet is becoming its own unique commodity off the square, the struggle of changing locations from Corsicana to Waxahachie seemed to be difficult.
“I never thought it was attainable. It took a while. Finally, I started talking to people, and I realized this is actually attainable. I can actually do this,” she added.
Transitioning 40-some miles away to the town she now calls home, Waxahachie’s Bittersweet began renovating in June, patiently waiting through a five-month period to be downtown’s first bakery.
“We contacted Jim Lake Companies, and we’re in one of the Jim Lake buildings here, and they helped us renovate the building. It was big and green before, so we had to tone it down just a little bit,” Schiffer said. "We replaced everything in here. It’s crazy the difference it made. When we first opened, it was just nice because I closed down my last location and to finally be able to open back up again, it was just good to do it all over again."
From a fresh coat of paint to classy rustic decorations, and a beautifully crafted wooden bar that Schiffer’s father contributed, the quaint, vintage bakery started to take shape.
“My favorite compliment is whenever I had a group tell me ‘This is like a Hallmark bakery.’ And that’s what I wanted to hear and create. I wanted everything to be warm and welcoming,” Schiffer added.
And as far as popularity goes, Bittersweet got an early start.
“Everyone was like, ‘Where have you been? We’ve needed this for so long’,” Schiffer laughed. “It was fun to show everybody this is what I was talking about. Before, everyone was like, ‘What are you putting in?’ –Oh, a bakery. ‘Oh okay.’ They didn’t realize what we could do. And when they came in, they saw we made everything from scratch, made everything fresh, and more than just your silly cupcake. It’s a great gourmet, freshly baked from scratch cupcake.”
SCRATCH THAT! IT'S FRESH!
Through trial and error, Schiffer learned first-hand what it would take to run a five-star success.
“I think our service sets us a little bit apart. We actually make it from scratch every single day, every single thing. I don’t think people realize what true buttercream is or true cake batters that are made from scratch that day, baked hours before you purchase them," Schiffer explained. "We do that. It’s rare to find a bakery that isn’t making it in days in advance and setting it out."
“There's bakeries that'll get big shipments of barrels of frosting, barrels of fudge filling and all these different things that are premade. And some of them taste fine, but you can tell the difference between scratch and premade. There’s a reason we sell out all the time,” she added.
When Schiffer first started her baking business, time took a toll on her efforts before she learned a daily routine that improved her bakery's efficiency.
“When I first started it would take me at least 10 to 12 hours to get everything done just to bake. There are many times I have slept on this floor, and there’s a reason there’s a rug over there because I slept on it,” laughed Schiffer. “I spent many hours here, especially in the beginning. I streamline a lot of things now, so I work pretty quickly. I can pretty much do most everything in less than five hours. But if I have a busy day, of course, I’m here at two o’clock in the morning because it has to be from scratch, so you have to get here as early as you can."
As creativity fuels her culinary skills, Schiffer’s high-quality taste matches her innovative spirit when it comes to the final product on display.
“This crème brûlée cupcake idea came out of nowhere," she said. "I just thought, 'let's take a torch to this cupcake and oh my gosh, this tastes amazing! Let’s stick with that.' And now it’s our top seller.”
Despite the fact Schiffer has not been trained through a culinary school, her talent in the art of baking would say otherwise.
“I’ve had people who have worked for me that are trained professionally, and then there’s what I do. I think there are many different choices. If people want that, they can go to that. I think we have a really good idea of what we’re doing over here and people seem to really like it too,” explained Schiffer
HOMEMADE FROM THE START
Tradition runs deep in the family as Schiffer’s mother, Terresa, taught her daughter the tricks of the trade and a passion for baking.
“My mother did this with me. She worked with her mother; they had a floral shop together. They were in the wedding scene, so growing up I was always around weddings and wedding cakes. My mom would bake at home, so I’m self-taught,” explained Schiffer. “Even things at home, she could make anything taste amazing. She pretty much taught me how to bake. I think the only thing that put me into this is my mother.”
Although cooking came naturally to Schiffer, her calling had yet to become apparent as she explored college.
“I went to school for a little bit, and I couldn’t really find my path. And then I opened my first bakery business when I was 20. It was kind of a test-run to see if that‘s what I wanted to do, and I always thought eventually I’ll go to school for it. So now I keep thinking that, eventually, I’ll stop and go to school. Until then, we’re going to continue doing this,” said Schiffer.
Unable to ignore her desire for the baking industry, Schiffer was convinced that this was something she needed to do.
“I was in between, and everyone kept saying, ‘owning a cupcake shop sounds like a Pinterest fantasy, it doesn’t sound like something that you could actually do.’ I never thought of it as a serious job, and I was just trying to find something I was passionate about," she said. "And my dad told me ‘Oh, you're going to hate working in a kitchen, it’ll be hot, long hours, you're going to be on your feet.’ And I told him ‘ I swear I’ll love it. That’s what I want to do.’ And I do love it.
“I finally realized I could take that dream and turn it into a reality. I just couldn’t find anything else. Do I want to be a teacher? I liked psychology; do I want to do that? I just couldn’t figure out what I wanted to do, but this,” she referenced the bakery, “this worked out.”
Besides the fact her bakery is a Main Street hit that brings in new customers every day, the list of regulars steadily increases, keeping the community pleased with not only with her desserts but her humanity as well.
IF YOU CAN HELP, HELP
Bittersweet Bakery is not shy when it comes to serving Waxahachie with compassion, a little sugar, and a satisfied palate.
Schiffer told a story a little boy who inspired her to dream bigger than any shop or cupcake had before.
“A little boy came in and took me off guard. I had been up every single night with all of the shootings [in Dallas], I had been up watching all of this happen, and it was just tearing me up. So this little boy comes in, and they wanted two-dozen cupcakes, that’s quite a bit especially for a little boy, and the dad was like, ‘He just wants to use all of his allowance to buy cupcakes for the police officers, and I couldn’t believe it. This little boy just wanted to do good.
“They bought those cupcakes and gave them to the officers, and it sat on my mind all weekend long. So I put together a story on Facebook at night, I told everybody the same story, and I said ‘Come in the next day, and we’re going to do 100% of sales for the Waxahachie Police Department.’ And it got shared and shared and shared by thousands."
Calling in reinforcements of a former assistant, a boyfriend, and some friends that came to the rescue, the event became a sold-out success as the small group baked through the night and early morning hours.
“That next morning there was a line down the block. We had been open for an hour, and we had already hit $2,000. It was insane. It was cool to see the community come together for our police department in that short of time. […] We ended up with more than $4,000,” Schiffer recalled.
Through Bittersweet and the community’s act of kindness, the Police Department, lead by Chief Wade Goolsby, were able to better protect themselves with state-of-the-art body armor plates.
“I told them, ‘Whenever we give you this money we’d love for you to use it for you.’ So the police chief was able to do that,” said Schiffer.
According to policemag.com, the hard armor plates fit inside the front and back pockets of armor carriers, which offer protection against rifle rounds and even some armor-piercing rounds.
“They ended up getting enough for the entire team over there, the armored plates on their vests so it can’t be penetrated in close range. So he told me, ‘We wanted these, but it wasn’t something we could afford.’ It was obviously something they needed but didn’t have the budget for and so they were able to do that,” explained Schiffer.
Bringing the community together with cupcakes and kindness is the heart and soul of Bittersweet Bakery.
“When you show you’re invested in the community and that you’re not going anywhere, I think that is shows in your work, your efforts, and how you do business. People see that. What we came and did was complimenting what Waxahachie does. Even with the design and the entire feeling when you walk in here, I wanted everybody to feel like we’re Waxahachie’s bakery. We’re the bakery that brings comfort and joy. This is where we want to be, and we love this community,” said Schiffer.
As far as future plans go, Schiffer is looking to grow and expand the Bittersweet brand, possibly even franchise, but will continue to call Waxahachie home.
“We’re a scratch bakery, we’re from here, and we’re for the community, and we plan to stay here, I think a lot of people think cupcakes are these overly sweet things just for children, and their not. It’s a little treat for a ladies night out, or on your day-to-day going between appointments. They can come in here to a fun environment, sit down, drink a nice coffee, and have a cupcake. Everybody can enjoy it,” added Schiffer.
In the meantime, Bittersweet will continue to serve sublime sweets and treats, along with a smile, and a helping-hand.
“I think my favorite part about owning this shop is that Bittersweet is becoming its own little name. It’s no longer ‘this is a cupcake,’ but ‘this is a Bittersweet cupcake.’ Just the fact that we’re becoming known here as the ‘Waxahachie bakery,’ and being apart of the community here is what I’ve always wanted,” said Schiffer with a smile. "I love that everyone has accepted us, and everyone likes what we’re putting out. People truly love this place.
"It’s comforting to get those great reviews and have those relationships with our customers. I mean, putting out a great product is great, eating a cupcake is great, but when other people love it as much as you do — that’s even better."
To taste a Bittersweet treat, visit: bittersweet-bakery.com or call (972)-937-2253
Chelsea Groomer, @ChelseaGroomer