Baking, like music, is the marriage of art and science. In music, it takes the mathematics of rhythm to produce a melody. In baking, it takes precise measurements to make the dough rise.
It’s a comparison that Allison Cebulla, the baker behind Hatched, understands perfectly. She majored in music performance and minored in culinary arts. Both require art and science to create beautiful compositions on paper and plate.
Cebulla tells me she has been baking since she could walk. She credits her grandfather for instilling a love of baking in her from the very beginning.
“It was a family thing,” she remembers. “My grandfather would always make cinnamon rolls and caramel rolls for family events, homemade noodles, things like that. He would always involve me when he was around. I started doing that when I could stand on a chair, basically around 1.5 or 2 years old. I’d be covered in flour.”
Cebulla’s parents helped her hone those baking skills.
“When my mom was baking, she would always set up a station for me. So whenever she had a large baking station, she’d use the big pie plates, and I’d use the little pie plates. She’d use the big oven, and I’d use the little toaster oven.”
Cebulla’s dad was more into cooking and taught her other important skills through his time in the kitchen.
“He taught me knife skills when I was 6 years old,” she recalls. “He always wanted to play in the kitchen. We never had the same meal twice. So I was exposed to a lot of different flavors very early on, and that really played into the creative aspects of things. Then, my mom was very analytical and logical when it comes to things, so that’s where all the baking comes in. I can use the creative play from my artisitic father, but then my mom is very meticulous and likes things organized, which works out well for baking.”
Cebulla had a knack for baking. By high school, she was sharing her talents by baking for her friends and working in bakeries. She then went to culinary school to study culinary arts and sciences in a combined program. Cebulla actually left the program, traveling to Australia for a year. Surprisingly, she came back ready to hang up the apron for good.
“I thought I wanted to get out of baking and food, so I tried to stay away from it, and I really couldn’t get away,” she admits.
That’s when she met her husband, who also had a passion for food.
“He’s big into local foods and the sustainable food movement,” she explains. “He wanted to work on a farm for the practical experience of learning how food gets to your table, so I went with him to organic farms.”
Cebulla worked as a farm chef and food educator while he worked in the fields. She calls the experience their first go-round in “professional foodism.” She says her husband helped her re-ignite her passion for baking and turn it into a career.
“He saw something in me that I didn’t ever really see in starting a business,” Cebulla says. “I had always talked about something like that or working for myself, and it never really seemed like the right time or the right thing to do. And then it got to the point where I had so much creative energy that I didn’t do well working for other people and if I was baking for someone else, the first thing I would do when I would come home was bake some more… there’s something to be said about that.”
Cebulla admits that she started Hatched on somewhat of a whim, but its name couldn’t be more perfect in summarizing her journey.
“We could kind of see the seedlings all along in how it came to be,” Cebulla says, “But Hatched in its essence has really only been around since August … the name itself actually came from my mom, and her mom. It was a familial thing. When anything was new or fresh, you know, fresh from the oven, it was freshly hatched. It’s this idea of something new, fresh, rebirth or starting over. For me, it’s showing people something that’s from the ground up.”
So what can you expect if you order from Hatched?
Cebulla makes hand pies, which, as the name suggests, are meant to be single-served. Cebulla says the choice to make smaller individual pies goes hand-in-hand with her personality.
“I’m a nurturer,” she says. “I like hand pies because it’s one of those things that is very personal… when you have a box of them and there are six different flavors in that box, you’re more than likely going to be able to find something for everyone, whereas if you get a whole pie, not everyone is going to like that flavor. You have a much better chance of pleasing a majority of people.”
Cebulla points out the smaller pies also lower the risk of food waste, because people often don’t finish large pies or cakes. In keeping with sustainable food production, she says she also tries to incorporate as many local products into her pies as possible, but admits that Midwest seasons pose difficulties.
“If I can’t necessarily source local produce itself, I’ll still support local businesses,” Cebulla explains. “Even if they can’t source local, I can still support them in their venture. I try to keep everything very seasonal.”
Cebulla says she also preserves certain items, such as berries, in advance, so she can incorporate the flavors even in their off-seasons. In fact, she tells me that at her wedding, she gave away homemade jam.
“I like to use what I have in season so that I can use the most of the flavor that is in the produce itself, rather than trying to add so much to it.”
Cebulla doesn’t put a lot of sugar inside her berry pies, in order to put emphasis on the fresh fruits. On the exterior, Cebulla’s use of lard and butter creates a tasty and flaky pie.
You can find Cebulla’s pies at Pilcrow Coffee, where she has a permanent residency on the weekends from 8:00-2:00. North Avenue Grill in Wauwatosa also orders pies from Hatched, as does Carrot Bomb Catering in Milwaukee. One of Milwaukee’s newest restaurants, Birch + Butcher, now carries Hatched’s hand pies and a variety of Cebulla’s other baked goods seven days a week. Cebulla also bakes for weddings and special events. Later this month, Hatched Pies will partner with Vino Third Ward for a Pi Day (March 14) pie and wine tasting event. Tickets to the event can be purchased here.
To order from Hatched, call (414) 418-5217 or email Cebulla at email@example.com.