Trumbull woman launches home baking business

Melissa Matzke of mmm…Baked Goodness poses in her home in Trumbull, Conn. April 20, 2022.

Melissa Matzke of mmm…Baked Goodness poses in her home in Trumbull, Conn. April 20, 2022.

Ned Gerard / Hearst Connecticut Media

TRUMBULL — For years, Melissa Matzke dreamed of having a bakery.

The Trumbull resident has long loved using her hands and her oven to create special things. And, even though her career took her to other places for much of her life, she never lost her passion for baking.

“I baked at home,” Matzke said. “I baked for friends. I baked for family. I baked for donations.”

In recent years, she’s learned gluten-free baking, to accomodate her husband’s gluten sensitivity, and she’s learned more and more about the science of baking. In between all of her knowledge, and continued compliments from friends, Matzke started to think that maybe starting a bakery wasn’t such a crazy idea — but she balked at the idea of getting a retail space and all the work and expenses that came with it.

“It’s a risky proposition for anyone to do, especially someone who hasn’t done this before,” she said.

She decided that she would start her bakery business from home and mmm...baked goodness was born. Matze’s home-based bakery business, which she started in January, sells scones, muffins and galettes, all baked in her own oven. It’s one of several home-based businesses to pop up in Trumbull lately, with others including Pure by ShaSha, which sells organic body butter, face scrubs and other items.

There are several possible reasons for this mini-business boom, said Rina Bakalar, Trumbull community and economic development director. One is that, in October 2018, the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection began accepting applications under a new “cottage food” law from those looking to sell food made in their home kitchens.

State law previously required all food vendors to use commercial kitchens.

Bakalar said the COVID-19 pandemic has also changed the way a lot of people think about work.

“I think some people are looking at reinventing their lives and priorities and looking at work differently,” she said. “People are taking their passion and starting businesses out of their homes.”

For Matzke, starting her bakery from home was a good way to dip her toe into the world of business ownership.

“To me, the biggest benefit to having an in-home business is that I get to test my business,” she said. “I got to test the concept with a very low financial risk.”

Matzke said she is licensed for a cottage kitchen, meaning she can sell the items cooked out of her home.

There are restrictions to these types of businesses, including that she can’t sell any food that needs to be refrigerated. Matzke said she’d like to explore expanding to a commercial kitchen at some point, but, right now, she’s focusing on her fairly short list of products and selling mostly to others in Trumbull.

“My test market was Trumbull and it still is Trumbull,” she said. “The community has been overwhelmingly supportive.”

She’s also somewhat limited by the fact that she’s baking at home in a conventional oven.

“My oven’s like your oven,” she said. “It’s not particularly large and only so much fits in it.”

Matzke does most of her baking on Fridays, and juggles the bakery business with her full-time job as a statistician. It’s a tricky balance, but she said she feels she’s providing an important service.

“Eating is very emotional for people,” Matzke said. “There should be some pleasure with it. You shouldn’t just throw food in your mouth and go. There should be some mindfulness to it.”

She’s hoping her foods, which contain fresh ingredients, provide that for people.

“It’s made fresh in the oven,” she said. “You can taste the butters. You can taste the cinnamon and the sugar. I feel like I’m bringing part of my home into your home.”