Walking home on Central Street, I noticed a small bakery that I had never seen before. As soon as I opened the door, the divine smell of baked miracles welcomed me into the cozy little space of Beth's Little Bake Shop in Evanston. Offering European-inspired baked goods and desserts made fresh every morning, the bakery has been open since June 2015.
Still, not enough people are aware of its wonderful existence, so I decided to find out how Beth and her staff make the magic happen every day.
Beth Welch, owner and pastry chef, and her two bakers meet at the shop at 2 a.m. or 12 a.m. every day to start making everything. They begin by preparing the items that will need to be ready when the store opens at 6a.m.
Welch said that she tries to use local ingredients as much as possible. The dairy used in store comes from central Illinois, and after work each day, she returns to her hometown Glenview and hand-picks the "prettiest fruit" at the market.
"Everyone knows me there because I go so often," she said. "At first, they were really curious what I was doing with all that fruit every day, but now they know everything."
Beth's Little Bake Shop works on a much smaller production scale than other larger bakeries do in Evanston, but Welch said this is good for extra-detailed quality control. Even in a tight space, everyone is able to get many tasks done at once.
Even after the store opens, the basement kitchen remains busy making macarons, working on cake orders and preparing bread dough to be used the following day. With 80's music playing overhead, Welch and Sinead Wainwright, assistant baker (AKA Scone Queen), laugh as they discuss the strawberry-flavored éclairs and brie and prosciutto croissants that debuted this past weekend.
“It's an amazing thing to be able to do what you love as a living,” Wainwright said. "I love knowing that when I wake up every morning."
According to Welch, macarons have been the best-selling item since the store's opening in 2015. The staff just came up with a new chocolate cake flavor that they will be making starting this week.
Make sure to stop by Beth's Little Bake Shop in Evanston for pastries and desserts that you won't be able to forget. All the popular items sell out quickly, so get there as soon as you can!
In every bite, you will feel the time, effort and love they have put into making the best results.