ARTISTRY IN THE BAKING: Van Dough’s Bake Shop in Menomonie Crafts Custom Treats
owner Amy Accola blends her love for fine art with baking in her custom cookie, cake, and cupcake business
A new Menomonie-based entrepreneur truly incorporates artistry in baking.
Van Dough’s Bake Shop is a new custom baked goods business in Menomonie owned by Amy Accola. The young artist offers a variety of custom cookies, cakes, and cupcakes that customers have the ability to commission custom artwork to be hand laid on the edible products. Accola started the business in late 2019 with the hopes of combining her love for art and baking into a tasty tandem she can build a life around.
“I want to push the boundaries of what you can expect baking to be,” Accola said. “The fact that something can be made so artistically, but also be edible, is fascinating to me. It adds a special layer to the experience when the customer knows so much effort has been put into what they’re eating.”
Accola’s background is in art, as she studied art while attending the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington. From there, she lived in Ireland for a time and attended one year of catering college there. Following her return to the United States, Accola accepted a full-time position at a local pharmacy but was never entirely happy with art not playing a role in her working life. Vincent Van Gogh, and his painting “The Starry Night” in particular, have influenced her pursuit of art from a young age, so after watching a plethora of baking shows, she decided to give professional baking-ship a go.
Customers reach out to Accola via social media or her website, and from there she makes all of the orders by hand. If a customer wants a custom-shaped cookie, she is able to use her 3D printer to print cookie cutters and is also able to print out pre-made logos and apply them to cookies with help from her edible ink printer. Accola then makes all of the ingredients from scratch, with each order taking six to eight hours to decorate and eight to 12 hours to dry.
I want to push the boundaries of what you can expect baking to be.
van dough's bakeshop
Being the sole force behind Van Dough’s Bake Shop, Accola either delivers the cookies directly to the customer, or she has them pick up their orders at her home/workspace. Accola is able to complete about four orders a week on average, and in 2021 she fulfilled over 100 orders in a calendar year for the first time.
“Almost everyone who comes to pick up their order is amazed and their mouths just hang open for a while,” Accola said. “Recently I made some Harry Potter-themed cookies, and the boy who they were for was in the car, and when he saw them he was just in awe. It’s really cool to see everyone’s reactions.”
While Accola has worked from her home for the past year-and-a-half, she has also been able to partake in a number of vendor fairs and pop-up events, including a few get-togethers at the Brewing Projekt in Eau Claire. She is happy with her current operation but said the next step for her is to open a brick-and-mortar retail storefront where she can sell her cookies and host instructional workshops for interested guests.
“I’ve always loved art, and this venture is a way for me to incorporate that into my everyday life,” Accola said. “I’m able to sketch out each design and see every cookie through from start to finish. On top of that, it’s a relaxing process because you can’t rush through it. You have to take your time or else the finished product won’t be something I’m proud of. It almost serves as a therapeutic activity in between the hectic pharmacy life.”