Walking distance from the Wisconsin River in Sauk City, The Mixing Bowl Bakery offers sweet distractions from the everyday. Owners Vickie and Curtis Eberle grew up in the community and recognize that their customers are the reason they’re in business. They created a community-driven business built on the ideals of family and togetherness, and are grateful to provide a little slice of happiness in the form of a baked good, latte, or casual conversation.
Curtis was working in life insurance when he felt spiritually directed to open the bakery. People had praised the baked goods he made for gatherings, and then a friend praised a cheesecake he made for a potluck, saying it was the best she’d tasted. The decision became clear to Curtis, and he told Vickie, “We’re opening up a bakery.” A year later, The Mixing Bowl Bakery was born.
Vickie was working full-time when the bakery opened, so staff were hired to help with the front of the house while Curtis and business partner Diane Clement did all the baking. But about a month after the opening, Vickie quit her job to be at the bakery full-time, then three years ago, they bought out Diane. October 9, 2019, was their five-year celebration.
When Vickie and Curtis were looking for the ideal home for their business, a building belonging to the library opened up. They almost had to move because of an expansion plan, but they were able to stay and transformed the 1970s bank into a functional, livable space. Curtis converted two offices into a kitchen, and they kept a large display window so people could see the preparation of daily treats. The vault is still in the building, the bulletproof window is still intact by the kids’ corner, the bank’s drive-through became a screened-in patio, and the night-drop depository became the bakery’s drive-through window.
They keep it fresh by making everything from scratch. “A lot of our prep work is done throughout the day making the basic ingredients. We both bake throughout the day, splitting up the duties,” says Vickie. Curtis makes the donuts, cinnamon rolls, cookies, ice cream, cheesecakes, and the bar recipes with peanut butter (because Vickie is allergic), while Vickie makes the quiches, pies, bread, and other bars and breakfast items. And she’s the main barista. “Sometimes my ovens don’t get turned off until late into the afternoon depending on the demand. We do things based on when they’re ordered. If they’re not picking up until 5:00 p.m., we won’t bake until the afternoon so it’s fresh.”
Vickie adds, “It definitely was a process learning how to run a bakery and learning the barista part of it. Our roasters from Kickapoo Coffee sent trainers to show us how to make drinks, and they calibrated the equipment.”
Vickie remembers that when they started, they didn’t have take-and-bake cookies, there wasn’t ice cream, and “Quiches were later because we didn’t have a refrigerated case to keep them in. Unless you can display it, it doesn’t sell.”
They also fill custom orders. “People ask for unique items, and people just clamor for it. For example, date bars—oatmeal, flour-crusted top, cooked dates in the center, baked together, and brown sugar gives it the sweetness—can cross generations; from old remembering them to new discovering it for the first time.”
Vickie also says, “We’re constantly adding new items to the menu. We still have to do the classics, and we try to do the classics well. My personal favorite is the cinnamon roll.” Seasonal items, like pumpkin bars, are also very popular. “We pride ourselves in using local ingredients, like Sassy Cow dairy, apples are from Oakwood Fruit Farm. Pumpkins come from my cousin’s farm in DeForest, and we roast the pumpkins at the bakery.”
Not surprising, holidays are busy. Vickie says, “Chocolate-covered strawberries, heart-shaped and rose-shaped peanut butter cups, and French macarons are popular items for Valentine’s Day.” January has Bald Eagle Watching Days, so while people take in the sights, they can also stop at the bakery for something warm to eat and drink.
“People are surprised to find this place and know it has been around for five years. We started tracking zip codes, and since tracking from April, we have 500 zip codes from 37 states and 3 other countries—people from Canada, Thailand, and Austria. Especially tourists come to a small town to find the local shops.”
Vickie and Curtis are involved in the community, finding it mutually beneficial because it gets the word out about their business. They offer group tours for schools, daycares, and Girl Scouts, and they host storytime with the library. Curtis is a volunteer firefighter, so they give back to the local fire department and EMS. And they donate food to Badger Honor Flight, while leftover food or day-old food goes to the local food pantry and the Eagle Academy.
Running a bakery has good and bad days, but “who wouldn’t want to earn a living and be around their children all the time?” says Vickie. Curtis and Vickie have 10 children, and the older ones help out. Vickie believes it teaches them values and work ethic, and allows the community to play a part in their upbringing because they enjoy spending time with them.
The uniqueness of the business is undeniable. “We’re not just a bakery and a coffee shop. We wanted it to be a very homey and comforting place, not in some commercial space, and feel like you belong,” says Vickie. The Eberle family makes customers feel at home. With a little faith and a lot of love, The Mixing Bowl Bakery will continue to thrive for many years to come.
Krystle Engh Naab is a bakery-loving freelance writer and copy editor for Madison Essentials.