Delish Bakery is now open and you have got to try the brownie
One bite into the brownie at newly opened Delish Bakery in Steilacoom, I knew it was in the top three brownies I’ve ever had in Pierce County.
If you go to Delish Bakery for one thing during the scratch-bakery’s opening month, make it the brownie.
Dense, chewy, full of deep chocolate flavor, wearing a light dusting of powdered sugar and a sprinkle of chocolate chips. It was a darn fine brownie.
And it’s so very labor intensive to make.
“It is the most complicated brownie recipe you can bake. I am kicking myself for it,” said Delish Bakery owner Lisa Holmgren, with a laugh, on her day off after a busy week. Every baker wishes they had axed that one super complicated recipe from the menu before opening. For Holmgren, it’s too late. People already have discovered her excellent brownies. There’s no going back.
“Why did I have to pick the recipe where you have to melt chocolate and butter over a double boiler? It’s got that extra step to it,” said Holmgren, laughing.
Here’s why: That satisfying deep chocolate flavor is more difficult to achieve in a brownie made with just cocoa powder. The proof is in the brownie. It’s as dense as a truffle and as chewy as you imagine every brownie should be.
Avoiding baking shortcuts might be tough for Holmgren’s time management in the short-term as she is inundated with customers, but in the long term, I think it’ll be what she’s known for.
Her bakery is on par with Corina in Tacoma’s St. Helens neighborhood and Celebrity Cake Studio in Tacoma’s Dome District. Like those bakeries, her bakery is a neighborhood destination with ready-to-take desserts, but also a bustling side specialty in custom cakes.
And, like those two Tacoma bakeries, everything at Delish Bakery is made from scratch.
DELISH BAKERY WAS AN INSTANT HIT
Holmgren opened two weeks ago and has sold out every day. “Opening weekend, I went through 90 pounds of butter.”
“Every day, I’ve increased twice the day before and I’m still not able to keep up,” she said. “I’m struggling to keep up.”
She added, “It’s a great problem, but I don’t want my quality to suffer and I hate letting people down.” She’s thinking about shortening her hours because she can’t seem to keep items in stock beyond the early afternoon. Unfortunately, she’s maxed out on the amount of pastry she can bake in a day.
She’s only able to squeeze two refrigerators and one freezer into the tiny space, which means she can’t order more ingredients because she simply can’t store them.
She’s not once been able to predict accurately how much of anything to make because demand has been so high.
My advice and Holmgren’s advice: get there early. And a phone call a day ahead will also yield better results so that Holmgren can set aside items or make a special order. She said a day’s notice is all she needs.
DELISH BAKERY MENU
The twice-baked croissants never last beyond late morning. She’s sold 1,000 in her first 10 days of business. Before opening, she thought she might sell 120 in a week. Her apricot pastries also have proven popular.
Visitors also will find cake pops – pumpkin and chocolate last week ($1.75) – and prettily decorated cupcakes ($3) in fall flavors. I loved the fall-tinged versions I bit into (pumpkin, spice and everything nice). The menu also includes French macarons ($1.75), cookies ($2.25), pie-by-the-slice ($3), baked doughnuts ($2.25) and an assortment of pastries ($3.25). Do note that the stock fluctuates daily and what might be there one day might not the next.
The only thing she’s had go to waste is gluten-free cake. She’s had few takers for her gluten-free items, so if you avoid gluten, get in there to prove there’s a demand and she’ll make those items.
She does stock at least one vegan item a day. On my visit, it was vegan chocolate chip scones, but there only was one left.
And for your pup? Pick up a homemade dog treat made with peanut butter, pumpkin and eggs and flour. They’re priced 50 cents each.
She also sells Nespresso coffee to-go.
CUSTOM CAKES AT DELISH BAKERY
Want a whole cheesecake? No problem. Order in advance for $30. You can also pick up a whole pie for $20. She’s doing a bustling business in custom cakes. Wedding cakes, anniversary parties, special occasions, birthday cakes – Holmgren can decorate cakes for any occasion. The key, though? Order full desserts in advance.
THE DELISH BAKERY SPACE
Delish Bakery is tucked a space about the size of a closet, so in our current era of dining capacity restrictions, don’t walk in if there already are a few customers in the entry. Wait outside and once visitors exit, make your entrance. The line moves fast. Holmgren has hired two helpers to manage the flurry of customers.
Delish Bakery is Holmgren’s launch of a second career as a baker. “I worked for Alaska Airlines for 20 years. Then Covid happened and my job was eliminated. It was tough because that’s been my life. But this next step has always been my dream,” she said earlier this summer when we first spoke.
She’s long dabbled in baked goods working for a caterer as a side hustle to her day job in IT and marketing. She also worked in restaurants during college.
Since the pandemic began and she lost her job, she has been a pastry student at Clover Park Technical College, which has given her the skills to launch a second career as a baker. She only has one semester left in her program, but intends to take this semester off to focus on the bakery and then she’ll likely go back to Clover Park to finish up.
Holmgren lives in Anderson Island and commutes via ferry. She previously lived in Steilacoom, which is why she knew the community would be receptive to a scratch bakery like hers. She likes Steilacoom’s small-town feel and terrific foot traffic.
Where: 1603 Lafayette St., Steilacoom; 253-325-9822
Hours: She’s open Tuesday-Saturday for now, closed Sunday and Monday. Check social media for opening and closing times.
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