Kristina Karen welcomes the local community to her hidden gem of a bakery. Ariana Hones photo
by Ariana Hones
Kristina Karen thought she would be using her science skills to draw blood and take children’s temperatures.
After all, she wanted to be a nurse.
However, when she started cooking at a nursing home to earn money for nursing school she realized cooking and baking were not only somethings she was good at, but she enjoyed doing them.
So instead of picking up a syringe she flipped to a spatula and enrolled in the Fox Valley Tech Culinary school.
Baking enables Karen to use both her technical science skills of knowing how to blend ingredients for the perfect fluffy cupcake, but also to be creative.
The opportunity to open Baked: Cakes by Design in Berlin practically fell into her lap.
“It was just an idea,” Karen said. “I worked at Webster’s [Marketplace] for six years, I had two kids and my in-laws bought the building and said, ‘Go make a bakery out of it.’”
Two years later, the shop is flourishing.
Business comes from large custom orders such as weddings, graduations and anniversaries, but also people walking in.
“Everyday we have someone new coming in and the goal is that you come in and try a cupcake and love it and next time you need a cake you come and get a cake here,” Karen said.
This independently owned specialty bakery offers the area an environment where people can consume delicious sweets, but also relax in the space’s lounge area.
What does the future have in store for Baked?
“Expansion to the front of the building, ice cream dipping wells, coffee, couches … My philosophy is build slow,” Karen said.
Although these changes will happen over the next few years, the treats that customers can taste are constantly changing as Karen continues to innovate.
“We have anything sweet and baked,” she said, noting Baked has cupcakes, brownies, cookies, cheesecakes, turnovers, scones, pies and speciality cakes.
Her favorite to make?
“Specialty tiered cakes,” Karen said.
Anything fun and whimsical for that matter.
Right now it’s a Mickey Mouse cake.
Her favorite to eat?
Lemon blueberry cupcakes.
The flavors of the cupcakes rotate each week, but local fans can usually find the ever-favorites cookie dough, peanut butter cup and death by chocolate.
“We want people to come in and try something new and come back,” Karen said of her philosophy and desire to bring unique flavors to the area.
Does she ever get tired of baking?
“No, but when I am stressed I don’t bake. I clean,” Karen said with a smile.
It helps that Karen and the community that Baked supports are surrounded by familiar faces.
Shae Stangl of Ripon is assistant to Karen and Karen’s mother, who lives above the storefront, also assists when large orders come in.
Currently, the trio is gearing up for a summer full of weddings and special events.
For those who have their orders to Baked already in, they can look forward to beautifully designed and deliciously baked treats, not to mention frosting that will incite plenty of lip smacking.
For those who don’t, do not despair.
Walking into this corner store in downtown Berlin will be a delicious break in anyone’s day, especially if it is eating one of Karen’s blueberry infused favorites.