Sweets and Treats

A local mom shares her passion for baking

Amy Brace grew up baking with her mom and loved it. After the birth of her own daughter, Caleigh, she took this passion for making treats to a whole new level.

“As an adult, I would watch baking shows all the time and then I would bake things and bring them into work at U of M [University of Minnesota Hospital,]” she says. “People loved them.”

On one of these occasions, a coworker remarked that instead of working in the medical field, she should take up a career in baking.

“It was shortly after I had my daughter that I started bringing the treats in,” says Amy. “I was super good at being a CT tech and I loved it, but the hours I was working made it hard to see my daughter, who was my miracle baby. It wasn’t what I wanted. I wanted to spend time with her and see her grow up.”

In 2014, Amy began baking at home, but as she received more orders and acquired more baking paraphernalia, her home began bursting at the seams. She had stuff everywhere, and her basement and garage were full.

“My husband [Jeff] suggested that maybe we should find a space where I could put all this stuff.” Soon after, they acquired a small business loan and began looking at places. They finally found the perfect space in Hopkins, their hometown, in March 2016 and opened Amy’s Cupcake Shoppe that June.

Along with delicious gourmet cupcakes, the bakery also offers cookies and cookie sammiches, amazing French macarons, which can be hard to find locally, vegan cupcakes, and of course, a variety of coffee and lattes to accompany them.

“We also have a whole catering menu for events and we do custom cakes and custom sugar cookies by order,” says Amy. “We do everything from baby showers and weddings to corporate events. We even have a new printer which enables us to put company logos on cookies and cupcakes.”

Today, there are three full-time bakers to stock the cases and keep up with all the orders. “We make everything from scratch at the shop, so all of our cupcakes, all of our fillings, are made right here,” says Amy.

Due to COVID, only outside seating is available, but hopefully that will change soon. Curbside pickup is also available. Amy can’t wait to bring back many of the fun indoor events, such as their macaron making classes. “We would typically have anywhere from four to six people and we do everything right from the beginning, so we show people how to mix them up, how to fill them and press them and get the right texture.”

There is also a kid friendly area that they hope to open up again soon.

“We have a little kids’ kitchen and filled it with a bunch of toys donated by kiddywampus down the street. You know how much little kids love sweets, so they would come in and head right for the kitchen, put on their little aprons, and start making their own pretend cupcakes and lattes.

“When you walk in the door, we hope you immediately feel at home and welcome. We know a lot of our customers by name, we know their kids’ names, and their parents’ names.”

Another fun offering is their Bakery & Brewery Bike Tour. “We had about 100 riders this year, which is our fourth year doing it,” she says. “The idea came from one of our regulars at the shop. Scott asked us if we knew there was a bakery and a brewery across the street from each other in every city on the trail [the Lake Minnetonka LRT Regional bike trail]. I had no idea.”

The 32-mile tour begins in Hopkins and proceeds to Excelsior, then from Excelsior to Victoria, and then back to Hopkins again. Tickets for the event include a t-shirt, a free treat at each bakery and a free beer at each brewery.

“We do it to help promote other small businesses that maybe people wouldn’t have seen before or maybe wouldn’t have gone to before,” says Amy.

Last year, when the pandemic hit, she created a whole new line called Amy’s Pantry, which includes pancake mixes, a myriad of baking spices, and locally-made LeMire’s Maple Syrup. “It’s a family owned business close to our family cabin in Aitkin, and they’ve been making and selling maple syrup since 1890.”

A former athlete, Amy believes her competitive drive helped her get to where she is today. “It was also pure tenacity of not wanting to give up, especially last year. It felt like every day we had to think of something new. It reminded me of having to go over and over a skill until it’s perfected. In business, you don’t know what’s working until you try a few different ways and so many different things.”

To find out more about Amy’s Cupcake Shoppe, or to take part in next year’s bike tour, go to 701 Mainstreet in Hopkins. (952) 479-7516.

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