Michigan's new cottage food law lets Dexter baker Anne Young start pie and bread business from home
Photo courtesy of Anne Young
She had been a teacher for more than 20 years in both the Pinckney and Dexter school districts. In 2002, she stopped teaching and began cleaning houses, which gave her more time at home. After the cottage law passed, she realized that she could combine her desire to be at home with her long time passion — baking.
"When I was in college at Michigan State, I lived in a rooming house my last year and had no kitchen," said Young. "I had a roasting pan and taught myself how to make bread in it. It came out lopsided but good. Once you make your own bread, it's hard to go back to store-bought bread."
That was in the mid 1970s when Young also got married and learned to make pie crusts from her mother-in-law.
"Since then, I've always done everything by hand," she said. "I did get a KitchenAid to knead my bread some years ago because it's a faster process, but some bread I still do my hand."
The cottage law, signed in July, allows Michigan residents to make and package foods that don't have to be refrigerated without licensing and inspection from the Michigan Department of Agriculture. The baked goods, jams, jellies, popcorn, candy, cereal, granola, dry mixes, vinegar and dried herbs, etc. must be created in a kitchen and stored in the home.
With just one oven in her kitchen, Young began baking loaves of bread in August and selling them on Saturdays at the Dexter farmers' market.
"Once you get the timing and the rising down, it's amazing," said Young. "I start at 6 in the morning and end between 8 and 10 at night."
She'd bake on Fridays and sell 40-50 loaves every Saturday at the market. Her most popular breads were her cinnamon bread, rosemary bread, and country hearth bread (an 18-hour rise bread that she cooks in a cast iron Dutch oven using her daughter's recipe.) She also bakes French bread, cheese bread and sourdough bread, experimenting with a new kind of bread every week.
For Thanksgiving, Young baked and sold 52 pies, including chocolate pecan, key lime, lemon, cherry, pumpkin and caramel apple pies. She has also sold her breads and pies at school fundraisers in Dexter and to the Old Pine Farm CSA.
She named her business Owl Hollow because she has enjoyed owls since she first went owl calling in college.
"I live on the Huron River and we have a metropark behind us and University of Michigan property," said Young. "We have lots of owls in the woods, and it's a protected area that hasn't changed in 30 years."
Young also collects owl photos and figurines. She is married, has two grown children, and enjoys the company of her golden retriever. She also makes cheesecakes and other specialty items for weddings, and plans to expand her sales to two days a week, Tuesdays and Saturdays when the Dexter farmers' market re-opens next spring.
Young enjoys trading her leftover items at the market with local farmers for eggs, and also buys her fruits — blueberries, raspberries, and apples — from local farmers. She is also a gardener and grows some of her own herbs.
What is the key to good baking?
"You have to taste all your food and don't offer anything that you don't think is delicious," explained Young.
To contact Anne Young about her goods, e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also visit her website.
Lisa Carolin is a freelance writer for AnnArbor.com. Contact the news desk at 734-623-2530.