Voice News

CA News 2024


Cottage bakeries are popping up on Facebook – and in Springfield

Have you noticed more home bakers, also known as cottage bakers, popping up in your Facebook feed?

You are not alone.

In August 2022, the statute allowing these home operations was updated to allow online sales within Missouri, which may have led to more bakers – or at least an increased online presence.

A pink cake decorated with a Starbucks logo and strawberries
Jessica Karfis was obsessed with the show ‘Cake Boss’ when she was in high school. She creates her own masterpieces with her cottage bakery, Muffin’s Goodies in Republic. (Photo by Muffin’s Goodies)

These businesses are called a “cottage food production operation,” said Eric Marcol, environmental health program coordinator at the Springfield-Greene County Health Department. In short, this allows individuals to prepare certain non-potentially hazardous foods — shelf-stable items such as cookies, breads and brownies — from home and serve them to the end consumer, he said.

These bakers are not subject to health inspections. They sell directly to consumers, not to restaurants. Because the department does not regulate these facilities, they do not keep track of how many are there, Marcol explained.

But our Facebook feed has been flooded with them lately and there are some incredible creations. Fabulous looking cakes, drool-worthy cinnamon rolls, sourdough bread so beautiful you almost don’t want to eat it (if that’s possible), delicious cakes, adorable cupcakes and more. If you’re looking for a homemade treat, here are some popular cottage bakeries to consider. (Hint, hint: Many of them are now taking orders for Mother’s Day.)

Interested in starting a cottage food production? View the guidelines on the Springfield-Greene County Health Department website.

Bren’s Bread

Two loaves of bread in pans
Brenda Dacus runs Bren’s Breads from her home in Republic. She specializes in breads, cinnamon rolls and dinner rolls. (Photo by Bren’s Breads)

Brenda Dacus’ daughter was in sixth grade when her Girl Scout troop decided they wanted to take a trip to Destin, Florida.

“You can’t do that at the cookie sale,” Dacus said.

So she told the girls to raise money and started baking bread to sell. Dacus had a recipe for white bread, which she adapted and now uses for everything from loaves of bread to cinnamon rolls and dinner rolls. These were the early years of what would become Bren’s Breads.

In 2009, she worked at Cox and participated in their fundraiser for Children’s Miracle Network, selling her bread and other baked goods. Then she participated in Wickman’s Fall Festival, which has become an annual tradition. Then Pumpkin Daze at Republic.

“I have a large group of customers,” she says.

When COVID hit, there were no craft shows, so she started selling to friends and posting online. Dacus works from her home in Republic. People pick up orders, but she will deliver to Springfield, Republic or Nixa. Pre-orders must be placed four days in advance.

Her breads, cinnamon rolls and dinner rolls are popular, but she also makes cookies and cakes, as long as you don’t want anything fancy.

“I am not an artist. I make cakes that taste delicious,” she said.

Dacus puts together baskets for special occasions such as Mother’s Day or Christmas, filled with various types of pastries. She can make cookies, cakes and more. Her passion for baking started during a home economics class.

“My home economics teacher was great,” she said. “I’m still in touch with her. To be able to bake you really have to enjoy it and I do that too.”

Just blessed sourdough

A decorative sourdough bread
Sourdough baking was a pandemic project for Emily Mays. She officially launched Simply Blessed Sourdough in January 2024. (Photo by Simply Blessed Sourdough)

Emily Mays started Simply Blessed Sourdough in January 2024, but began baking sourdough products for family and friends in 2021. It started as a pandemic hobby.

“I’ve always loved cooking and baking, so I decided to try sourdough,” Mays said. “I have two small children, so I was looking for a hobby that I could do while they were around. I really enjoyed the challenge of learning how to store and maintain a starter, and how to make my bread beautiful yet delicious. It has been a learning process, but it is a lot of fun.”

She offers five different sourdough flavors (including roasted garlic) as well as muffins. The menu changes monthly and she takes special orders and requests at least 48 hours in advance.

Located in north Springfield, customers can place orders for pickup on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Starting in May, she will also be at the Willard Community Market on Friday evenings and can deliver orders to Noble Hill Baptist Church on Sundays and Wednesdays.

Mays offers sourdough classes for anyone who wants to learn how to make their own sourdough. The lesson covers how to make a sourdough loaf and how to feed and maintain a starter. The next class is in May and more information can be found on her Facebook or Instagram.

“I’ve always loved making things and sharing them with others,” Mays says. “I started Simply Blessed Sourdough as a way to expand that. I enjoy meeting new customers and sharing what I have created with them.”

Muffin’s treats

A tray of cupcakes decorated with Kansas City Chiefs logos and red and yellow frosting.
Muffin’s Goodies, a cottage bakery based in Republic, offers custom orders like these Kansas City Chiefs-themed cupcakes. (Photo by Muffin’s Goodies)

Jessica Karfis is the woman behind Muffin’s Goodies. Her mother nicknamed her “Muffin” as a baby, and when Karfis started her business in 2018, her mother suggested she use her childhood name.

Her specialty is decorated cakes, cookies and pies, but she also makes muffins, brownies, cobblers and more. Karfis learned to bake from her grandmother.

“I started making my own recipes when I was in high school,” she said. “I have always loved art and felt connected to it. I was obsessed with the show ‘Cake Boss’ and knew that one day I would make beautiful cakes like this.”

Karfis runs the business from her home in Republic, where most customers pick up orders.

“I offer delivery, free within the city limits and for a fee outside of it,” Karfis said. “I have delivered all the way to Arkansas, so I am absolutely willing to go wherever my people need me.”

Karfis likes two weeks’ notice on orders, but if it’s during the holidays or graduation season, she may need several weeks. Karfis remains busy with her bakery.

“Republic is such a great community and really supports its local and small businesses,” she said. “Word of mouth has honestly been the biggest part of my growth. It means a lot to me and my family and it really touches my heart how many people who have become friends come back to me again and again and recommend my company to others.”

Lisa’s homemade food and treats

Chocolate chips and M&M cookies rest on a cooling rack
Lisa Hardy started her home-based business in 2019. Lisa’s Homemade Eats and Treats focuses on “food the way mom or grandma made it.” (Photo by Lisa’s Homemade Food and Treats)

Lisa Hardy started her business from her home in February 2019.

“My husband and adult children encouraged me to jump in and start doing it,” Hardy said. “I cooked and baked for our church for a number of years and friends told me I should start selling some of my baked goods. I was at a point in my life where I needed something to fill extra time since my children were grown and my parents had passed away.

In November 2021, she moved to a designated building and was inspected by the health department. She does not have a retail store, but works from that location to take orders.

Her cinnamon rolls and hotcakes are big sellers — recipes she learned in home economics class in high school — but she also bakes pies, cookies, cakes, candies, jams and meals for small groups.

“My focus is on food like mom or grandma makes, simple yet delicious,” she said.

Hardy is located 1.5 miles south of Marshfield. Customers usually pick up their orders, but delivery is available for large orders. Please call a few days in advance if you would like a custom order.

“The foodservice industry is physically, emotionally and financially demanding,” says Hardy. “It’s definitely more attractive to be a cottage baker because you can be more flexible.”

Kathy’s Cakes & Creations Cottage Bakery

Kathy White opened her cottage bakery two years ago. White owned a bakery in Republic called Kathy’s Cakes and Catering 40 years ago.

“I took two semesters of cake decorating at Ozarks Technical Community College with June Buchanan of June’s Cakery,” White said. “I started working in June. I also worked at a small bakery called Bake House.”

After White sold her bakery, she worked at Supreme Bakery and Supreme Kringle. She then left the industry, but continued to bake for friends until her retirement.

A fish themed birthday cake
Kathy White has a long history in the baking industry. She opened Kathy’s Cakes & Creations Cottage Bakery
at her home in the Republic two years ago. (Photo by Kathy’s Cakes & Creations Cottage Bakery)

Post-COVID, White decided she wanted to do something but didn’t want to be tied to a daily schedule as she has chronic fatigue syndrome, so her own business was the solution. White specializes in cakes for all occasions and cupcakes, but can also make muffins, tarts, cookies, gluten or sugar-free creations, macarons and cake pops.

White comes from a long line of good chefs and believes her talent is not only artistic but also a gift from God. Her faith is important to her.

“I am a Christian company,” White said. “I love making items that my customers love. However, I choose not to make cakes that are suggestive or with language I don’t use. If you want a dirty cake, I’m not your baker.’

Pick up orders from her home in Republic. For custom orders, two weeks is preferred, but they can accommodate sooner. Please get in touch to see her availability.

Juliana Goedewin

Juliana Goodwin is a freelance journalist with experience in business, travel and tourism, health, food and history. She is a former food and travel columnist for the Springfield News-Leader, a former business reporter for The Joplin Globe, and has written for USA Today and Arkansas Living Magazine, among others. More from Juliana Goodwin