Upon learning that Wellesley’s Kelly Meraw had started a business over the summer baking desserts out of her home, I could only assume that she must be operating out of a fancy Wellesley Kitchen Tour-like space. But no, Meraw says her kitchen and home (affectionately known as “The Treehouse”) are probably among the tiniest in town.
“I think the size of my kitchen is actually part of the success of my food. I believe that food should have short lists of ingredients, prepared with great attention to detail and technique, be fresh and personalized,” says Meraw, who calls her business “sugar.”
Yes, that’s with a small “s” and a period at the end, much to this editor’s chagrin. But Meraw justifies it (“Small ‘s’ because; food should be simple. Period because; when we indulge we should do it with purpose and only on the truly delicious.”)
The mother of two says the idea for her business has been swirling in her mind for years but only spun into reality this summer. It’s largely a one-woman show, though Meraw has plenty of cheerleaders and lots of good food sources, such as Lookout Farm in Natick. She is a self-taught baker who has found inspiration from food bloggers like Bakerella, Smitten Kitchen and The Pioneer Woman.
Averaging five to seven projects a week, Meraw is busy but stresses that her differentiator is baking customized goods. Yes, there is a standard menu of cakes, pies, cookies and more to choose from (with Zucchini Bread starting at $10 and wedding cakes starting at $150), plus a dessert-of-the-month club. But there are also custom jobs, such as a wedding shower cake for wine aficionados and a five-tiered cake for a five-year-old’s wedding-themed birthday party.
Among Meraw’s favorite things to cook is Pavlova, which she describes as “a gorgeous bed of sweet baked merengue topped with seasonal fruits of your choice and lightly sweetened whipped cream.” The owner of “an unquenchable sweet tooth,” Meraw disciplines herself to enjoy her creations in moderation.
Becoming a baker has been a departure for Meraw, who has a Master’s Degree in Classical Singing from McGill University (she wound up moving from Canada to Wellesley about three years ago when her husband was recruited to New England Conservatory of Music). “When I had my children I knew instantly that traveling for singing engagements wasn’t going to suit the idea of the kind of parent I wanted to be. I had always loved to bake and decorate. I dreamed of having my own bakery. An amazing group of Wellesley ladies encouraged me to take the plunge.”
Meraw does integrate music with her business though, often playing Mozart, Strauss or even a little country music, while on the job.
At the rate sugar. is going, don’t be surprised to see the business bust out of The Treehouse one of these days. “I visualize an awesome Wellesley location with exposed brick, great sunlight, comfy leather seats, and awesome stroller access. I want ‘sugar.’ to be a hot spot for local families; a spot for commuters to grab the perfect morning muffin and coffee,” Meraw says.