When Anne Rucker heard the news that she would be selling her desserts at the Kingfield and Fulton farmers markets in Minneapolis, she realized that she had no real plan of action. She would be baking out of her home kitchen and had to produce enough to feed… well, she wasn’t actually sure how many desserts she needed to bake.
And then she learned that she would be sharing market space with the respected Sun Street Breads and Patisserie 46. Her reaction was not calm. “I was like uh-oh. How will I do this?”
The first few weeks were tough, though Rucker oozes enthusiasm and confidence, so market customers likely had no idea. The truth is that on those first Saturday mornings, she probably hadn’t slept at all the night before and was nursing swollen ankles and an aching back from hours of baking. Immediately after the markets closed, she would unwind with her husband and a glass of wine before collapsing, completely and utterly exhausted.
Single-handedly producing enough goods for a market stand would be a struggle for anyone. But in Rucker’s case, she also was dealing with the inconvenience of mass producing items from a standard home kitchen and without any prior professional experience.
She still made it to market every week, however, with desserts in tow and a smile on her face. Smiling for good reason, she says, “The community has embraced me, and it’s been amazing. I feel like the luckiest girl in the world.”
Rucker’s doughnuts are gaining attention (for example, she’ll be at this Friday’s North Coast Nosh). Rightfully so, too. They range in variety from Nutella-filled to vanilla bean-glazed to brown butter-glazed to the more adventurous maple bacon. The doughnuts are happily not just one big sugar bomb, but instead a lovely balance of fluffiness and substance. Her brioche dough makes for a delightfully rich doughnut — brioche is made with a lot of butter and eggs. And since it’s a yeasted dough, the doughnuts have a full, almost nutty taste. “The richer the better,” she says.
Rucker, 30, is actually a lawyer by trade. A few years ago, finding herself “disenchanted” with her work, she spent a large portion of her free time in the kitchen, experimenting with recipes and writing a food blog. She had learned the basics of baking from her great aunt and grandma as a young girl. “We baked things like apple pie, sponge cake, jelly rolls, and other sorts of old-fashioned desserts,” she says. “From there, I just began reading cookbooks and teaching myself different techniques, but I always really held on to that love of simple, rustic, old-fashioned desserts.” Her bakery, Bogart Loves, is named after the maiden name of her great aunt and grandma (and also her middle name).
Rucker toyed with the idea of petitioning for a farmers market stand, but never really pursued the idea in a serious way until this past spring when she became determined to get that booth. An email to a board member finally landed her a spot. “Kingfield is a long-time neighborhood market and is quite hard to get into,” she says. “Turns out, my persistence is the reason they accepted my application.”
She still does some contract law work here and there, but this summer has been all about baking. In addition to the doughnuts, Rucker bakes oatmeal cream cookies, salted caramel brownies, whoopie pies, vanilla bean and devil’s food cupcakes, and macaroons.
Intentionally so, her desserts are not intricate works of art, as some pastries are. They are, however, carefully created by a baker who knows her stuff. She labors hard in the kitchen to figure out the perfect combination of ingredients. She describes her food well: “old-school desserts that your grandma would make, with a twist.” Once, for example, she spent a few weeks perfecting a homemade version of the Little Debbies she so loved growing up.
While Rucker dreams of opening a storefront, she is content to take it “one day at a time.” She does know that she would like to acquire commercial kitchen space in the near future. After all, she can’t forever use the KitchenAid her mother purchased when Rucker was in eighth grade: She mixes five separate batches of dough in the small machine, and then carefully babies the machine so it doesn’t overheat and prematurely cook the eggs in the batter.
It’s likely that if Rucker were to ever open a storefront, the customers she has acquired this summer would patronize her shop. She brings about 200 doughnuts to the market each week, along with her other offerings, and always sells out well before the market closes. In fact, her own father has yet to purchase a doughnut at the market because she’s always sold out by the time he arrives.
Her persistence earned her the booth at the farmers market, and it very well could be the thing that makes her successful in the future. “I find an odd amount of joy in baking and rebaking one item until it is absolutely perfect in my mind. This process is the process I used to create all of the items that I sell at my booth. I’m completely crazy in that way.”