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Annemarie Maitri, owner of Bloom Bake Shop, always knew she wanted to sell vegan sweets at her bakery. “I wrote it into my business plan ten years ago,” Maitri says. Inspired by her love of enjoying food with friends and family, Maitri never wanted anyone—regardless of dietary choices or restrictions— to feel left out. “I love celebrating food,” Maitri says. “So why wouldn’t I want everyone at the table to be able to enjoy their meal?”
Fast-forward and Bloom recently celebrated its ninth anniversary in early February. With a dedicated vegan and gluten-free baking area (Maitri says it is all about having good systems in place for safety reasons and to avoid cross-contamination), Bloom has a solid offering of vegan and gluten-free baked goods. In those nine years, Bloom has established a loyal following of people following plant-based (and gluten-free) diets.
Although Bloom now has a repertoire of delicious vegan baked goods, Maitri says it wasn’t easy at first. “I started out doing one treat at a time,” Maitri says. “At first I failed miserably. It took me three months to develop my vegan biscuit recipe.” Another recipe that took some time to figure out was the one for Bloom’s signature vegan and gluten-free pop tarts.
“This pastry dough was my nemesis at first,” Maitri says. “After awhile I threw all the rules out the window and thought ‘I just want it to taste delightful.’” Using chia seeds and arrowroot to act as a binder for the dough, Maitri next focused on how she could fill the pastries. “I saw the dough as a vehicle for deliciousness on the inside.”
For Valentine’s Day— Bloom’s busiest holiday— Maitri fills the pastries with Quince & Apple Raspberry Rose preserves and covers them with pink and white glaze. So why pop tarts? “I love them,” Maitri says. “They are one of my favorite pastries.” In addition to pop tarts, Bloom also has a rotating selection of vegan cupcakes and doughnuts. Maitri is proud of the variety of vegan options that Bloom offers. “My favorite thing is when people call and say ‘are you sure this is vegan?’”
In addition to treats, Bloom also has a full breakfast and lunch cafe menu with numerous options for vegetarians and vegans, but after a recent trip to New Orleans with business partner, Mark Pavlovich, and a couple of friends—one whom is a vegan and one follows a gluten-free diet— Maitri is doubling down on her commitment to plant-based foods.
“We were so impressed with all of the choices we had while eating out. New Orleans is light years ahead,” Maitri says. “Even in the French Quarter you can get vegan gumbo. And my family is from Louisiana so I know that is a big deal.” Look for Bloom to continue to expand its vegan breakfast and lunch offerings, including a wild rice and mushroom soup that comes with a side of Bloom’s sunflower oatmeal bread (also naturally vegan).
“We are unapologetically putting our plant foot forward,” Maitri says. “Good food can easily be plant based. We don’t want people to just have to make due.” Never one to rest on her laurels, expect Maitri to keep coming up with more delicious plant-based food for Bloom’s menu. “It’s fun to keep shaking things up,” Maitri says. “And we always will.”