ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Love cake and pastries but need an excuse to eat more? Ann Arbor-based bake shop Milk + Honey not only tastes good but will make you feel good.
The community-focused wedding cakery and baking business, owned and operated by Rachel Liu Martindale, donates proceeds to the Ozone House and started out of Liu Martindale’s passion for baking.
With a bachelor's degree in engineering from the University of Michigan, Liu Martindale said she’s always loved science and math and that's partially why she loves the science of baking. But as a creative at heart, Liu Martindale said she found that she hated her humdrum engineering job, so she quit and moved on to the world of specialty coffee, which offered a bit of a creative outlet.
“But I think, at the end of the day, I would always find myself baking in the evenings. It was my way of de-stressing at the time but I slowly realized that this is what I love it do. It’s actually, like -- it’s been here from the beginning.” Having loved baking since she was a kid, Liu Martindale pursued baking more.
To add to her baking chops, Liu Martindale did a six-month internship at Sweet Heather Anne, where she learned about cake decorating and design. She’s now an on-call decorator for the company.
“I think, definitely, my favorite is cakes. I love making cakes -- in particular, wedding cakes. I think they’re so fun to make,” Liu Martindale said.
“There’s just something about cakes in particular that, in terms of baking chemistry and stuff, they have to be very precise in order to make them really good. So, there's just so much into it that I love doing, which I know that the average home baker probably thinks is absolutely crazy, but I temp all of my ingredients before I put them together.”
Liu Martindale said that she loves the precision but also the decorating part of cake-making. For her, cakes are blank canvases so she can make different designs and decorations for each one. Even with wedding cakes, Liu Martindale said, there is variety because each couple has different ideas of what they want their cake to be and how they want it to fit into their wedding.
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Liu Martindale said that she started Milk + Honey after working with a ministry downtown. She said she and her husband would make and serve weekly Sunday breakfasts for the homeless and those in need downtown.
She said they would pull out all of the stops each weekend but, after a year of organizing volunteers and making food each week, both she and her husband were burnt out.
Liu Martindale said they decided to give proceeds from her business to a nonprofit organization that had a big impact in the community.
“So I picked Ozone House because they target homeless -- in particularly youth who are at risk or who are dealing with difficult family situations.” Liu Martindale said she feels that Ozone House helps to decrease the factors that might push youth into the situations faced by those she served during her weekly breakfasts.
Where can you find Milk + Honey?
Looking for Milk + Honey’s Instagram-worthy cakes and pastries? Milk + Honey regularly has pop-ups at local businesses such as Vertex Coffee Roasters and Bløm Meadworks.
And fairly soon, you'll find Liu Martindale and her Milk + Honey creations at Bløm Meadworks permanently. She told us that she’s begun to put the pieces together for her own space inside Blom, where she will offer breakfast and lunch options as well as her sweet treats.
Liu Martindale’s hope is to have everything ready for a soft opening around mid to late September, just in time for the beginning of the school year.
For regular updates and to learn more about Milk + Honey, visit its website.
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