Tis the season for sweets, and local bakeries are setting up for a busy Valentine’s Day weekend. Vanilla Bean Bakery of Indianapolis, Indiana is no different and offers custom creations that set them apart from the competition. Owners Jim and Kristin Klinger established Vanilla Bean Bakery five years ago and have developed four core products that consist of cake truffles, cupcakes, custom cookies and custom cakes. These sweets keep customers coming back for more and more!
Kristin Klinger had always been a stay at home mother, and whenever she brought over desserts to family holidays everyone would rave about them. She had always been interested and played around in the kitchen, and was always a very creative person.
“It got to a point where it was more than the polite ‘Oh wow that really looks great’ to all of a sudden family and friends starting to offer to pay [Kristin] to do something for them,” explained Jim. Looking for a way to pay for her kids’ college tuition, Jim and Kristin put two ideas together and eventually established Vanilla Bean Bakery five years ago. Kristin has no culinary education and is self-taught, so every product you see she learned how to do on her own.
After finding their perfect location, located right by their house, and creating quality products everything started to fall into place for the business.
One of the most popular sweet treats are the cake truffles, which come in fun, unique flavors just like their cupcakes. Depending on the weekend, the bakery might be swamped with orders for all four product categories. For Valentine’s Day in particular, Vanilla Bean Bakery will serve up hundreds of truffles and cupcakes.
“Typically, it’s your husbands and boyfriends who have waited until the last minute. When they wake up that morning they’ll need to find a place to get some sweets,” laughs Jim. They know that Valentine’s Day weekend will equal a long week, so they’ll start prepping early and loading up on treats on Monday. Jim uses his notes from the prior year to estimate how much of their product they’ll need going into that day.
Coming up with new flavors is something that Kristin does quite well. She’ll go online and find new flavors and ideas through message boards and their competition. Based on what’s trending, some crazy flavors will pop up from time to time that are hit or miss. Flavors are customer-driven as well. Customers will call and ask “Do you do this…?” and if they don’t, they will! “Because we’re custom, people come to us and every single cake you see on our website is from a customer asking if we could do this from them,” Jim says.
Even though Vanilla Bean Bakery only whips up cakes and cookies, they still rely on commercial restaurant equipment to get them through each batch of their creations on the daily. Jim says that they rely very heavily on their KitchenAid mixers and wear them down until they start sounding funny and won’t turn anymore. Other than those, they have a double stack oven and a refrigerator and that’s all they need to operate efficiently every day.