Elisa Marie’s love for baking started in the South at four years old. Today, baking has become her true passion. Homemade baked goods prepared from scratch from recipes handed down from her sweet mom. Elisa is a self-taught baker who lives up to her uncompromising standard of quality. After working as a professional baker in Chicago for many years, Elisa relocated back to beautiful Southern California to spread her “Fresh Baked Love” among her friends and neighbors. We caught up with her for an exclusive interview.
What inspired you to start Elisa Marie Baking?
Baking’s always been a part of my life. From when I was a little girl helping my mom bake goodies for the family to when I decided to make it my career, I’ve loved it with all my heart. But at some point, while I was baking my way through professional kitchens in Chicago, I started to want something more. The thing about baking, and really about working for anyone in general, is that you’re always working to accomplish someone else’s vision. That’s a totally fine way to make a living, and it was perfect for me for a while, but eventually, I realized I had something else in me that I wanted to put out into the world. I wanted to build something to honor my roots and the from-scratch way of baking that I found so much joy and magic in. That just wasn’t something I could find in someone else’s kitchen.
Then, life pushed my husband and me out of Chicago and back to his childhood home in Orange County, CA, and the pandemic shut down everything. Suddenly, baking for someone else wasn’t even an option anymore, and I realized that it was the perfect time to figure out how to make this thing I’d been dreaming about a reality. So, I did some research, took some calculated risks, and took one great big bet on myself. Suddenly, there was Elisa Marie Baking, and I haven’t looked back since!
Who has been the greatest influence on your baking?
From a distance, I’ve always admired the greats. Martha Stewart, Ina Garten, Nancy Silverton. That’s my trinity. My rockstars. And I’m still learning from them just about every day. But in my own life, I have to mention my first kitchen boss and Pastry Chef, Ryan, who opened the door to this whole business for me and showed me how to be a kitchen professional. And, of course, what greater influence could I have than my own mom?
Growing up, there was always something sweet in the house for after dinner thanks to my mom. For as long as I can remember, she would pull her trusty black recipe binder out of the bookcase, and I knew that I was in for something delicious. Everything was by hand, even the recipes themselves, which she’d handwrite or type into the pages of her binder. That was always really special to me, and so was getting to learn at her side as I grew into the baker I am today. There’s no greater influence on my baking than my mom, and I try to never waste a chance to tell her that…or sneak a peek at that old binder to learn something new!
What distinguishes you as a baker?
I believe very much in at-home baking. Not only do I incorporate that into EMB’s philosophy, but my personal situation allows me to run my business out of a dedicated kitchen in my own home instead of renting space elsewhere. I use my own appliances, I keep inventory in my own fridge, and I bake with my own vintage gas oven from the 1950s. Cottage Law baking comes with plenty of unique challenges, including what I can and can’t bake to sell, and an unfortunate notion that I’m not as…serious, maybe…as someone else with a brick and mortar.
But nothing could be further from the truth! Between my dessert partners, personal deliveries, retail locations, and pop-up markets, I routinely make and deliver thousands of baked goods every month. I’m in my kitchen 5-6 days a week from morning to night. To me, that makes EMB every bit as real from my home kitchen as it would be in a commercial one. I just get to roll out of bed for my commute!
What is your favorite thing to bake and why?
I absolutely love the process of baking a pie from scratch. In my own opinion, it’s the perfect never-fail dessert. Ripe, in-season fruit meets tender, flaky pie dough that’s absolutely bursting with high-quality butter. Plus, the way the smell of a well-baked pie fills the room so perfectly. What’s not to love?
Tell us about your slogan, “Fresh Baked Love.”
The way I grew up, baking was love. It was literally a physical extension of the love in my mom’s heart, and when you took a bite, that was exactly what you felt. The time and patience that was spent to make it right, and the special-ness of it being made just for you. It all just spelled L-O-V-E right there on your taste buds.
That’s exactly the feeling that I try to put into what I bake. It’s hard to find the time to bake anything at all these days, let alone the time to do it right. That’s why I work extra hard to bake my whole menu with all the love and care I have to give. When you have an EMB product in your hand, you can trust that it was made like it was going to someone in my own family. That’s what “Fresh Baked Love” is all about!
What do you imagine the future of Elisa Marie Baking to look like?
I’m eager to continue building partnerships with businesses all over Orange County and eventually expanding into LA County as well. Then, once the level of demand makes staying in my home kitchen impossible (which is still a way off), I’ll open a little shop where people can come and spend some time with friends and family or pick up the cake for your child’s birthday party. A comfortable neighborhood spot with old books and board games on the shelves. Cozy, simple, unpretentious, and chock full of scratch-baked Southern-style sweets made by me.
That’s the dream, but I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me to make it happen. I’m glad to do it, though, because I’ve never been happier doing anything in my life than I am doing this. And I hope everyone reading this will give EMB a try sometime and bring a little “Fresh Baked Love” into their lives!