Think your grocery list is big? “Aunt Ruth” Francour’s grocery list includes 40 lbs. butter, ten dozen eggs, and 60 lbs. of powdered sugar, and that’s just for one month! Those ingredients go into made-from-scratch cupcakes, cakes, cookies, truffles, and breads all sold as Aunt Ruth’s Baked Goods.
The aroma of baking marbled cake wafts out the back door and flour-covered counters greet visitors.
Francour prepares to ice a cake with vanilla frosting for a customer who requested “something basic” for his 87-year-old grandmother. On this afternoon, Francour is also baking her grandmother’s brown bread which she describes as a hearty breakfast bread with rye, molasses, and brown sugar. She toasts a few slices and serves them buttered. Yum!
Ever in motion, she has tins of cupcake batter ready for the oven. The frosting, already mixed and ready is swirled on top of the finished treats. Even the caramel sauce is made from scratch and drizzled over the cupcakes.
She says her favorite part of baking is hearing the “Mmmmm,” as people try her treats and there was no shortage of exclamations this day.
Homey, Cozy and Warm
And how did Francour come up with the name, “Aunt Ruth’s?” She recalled, “I have 14 nieces and nephews that are my world, and I’ve always loved spoiling them with goodies.
“Also, when I was a photographer at Quality 1 Hr Foto, on my last day working there, a little boy called me ‘Aunt Ruth’ during the photo session. That solidified my idea for the name. It sounded so homey, cozy and warm.”
“I love being a part of people’s lives…. I love to see people happy!”
Francour officially registered with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture as a home baker in January of 2016. Her part time baking role has grown quickly since then. “I started in January and in February, for Valentine’s Day, I had over 30 orders.”
“Everything is made from scratch not from a box. I make more than cupcakes,” she said. “My offerings include truffles, macarons (a French meringue-based pastry), bread, pies and cookies. Sometimes people don’t have time to bake in their busy lives, or just want to have a surprise for a loved one. I can modify recipes to suit dietary needs like gluten free, dairy free, egg free, but not sugar free at this time.”
She relates, “I’ve also had people give me a recipe that has been handed down from their relatives to make for special events!”
Practice, Practice, Practice
Perfecting a recipe is a process of trial and error. Her recipe for vanilla cupcakes was the toughest. She pieced it together from online recipes and many test batches. “It’s the most time consuming. I have to whip up egg whites separately,” she explains.
Another offering is Challah, a braided Jewish bread used for special occasions that needs to rise seven times! The result of many modifications of an original recipe, Francour’s version is velvety delicious and slightly sweet.
“I love being a part of people’s lives, their special events, weddings, graduations, birthdays, reunions, everything,” she shares. She especially likes to “do weddings. I love to see the responses as I bring in massive amounts of cupcakes. I love to see people happy.” For the tasting during wedding planning she will provide six types of cakes to sample.
Francour has been baking since she was old enough to reach the kitchen counter. “I was always begging for treats in the church kitchen as a small child. If my mom couldn’t find me, she knew I was with the ladies cooking and baking.”
She recalls her early inspirations, “I always admired my Grandma. Her kitchen was filled with treats. She must have spent weeks ahead of time baking. I realized I had a true passion when we were in the process of building our house in Madison Lake and we house sat for some friends in St. Clair.
“They had super old cookbooks that had recipes I had never heard of! It was a portal to another world. Most of the cookbooks were from the late 1800s or early 1900s. I would wake up at about 5 a.m. and make recipes to have for breakfast or that we could bring in our lunches to school.”
After sampling her goodies, anyone would be happy to get a hold of one of those lunches!
Aunt Ruth is taking orders for her baked goods and can be reached at 507-508-5368 or on Facebook at Aunt Ruth’s Baked Goods.