RESTAURANTS

Butter Custom Bakery opens in Iowa City, taking home business public

Cupcakes and treats are displayed July 31 at Butter Custom Bakery in Iowa City.
Cupcakes and treats are displayed July 31 at Butter Custom Bakery in Iowa City.
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IOWA CITY — When Kaitlyn Wright started Butter Custom Bakery out of her home in 2014, it was a way she could juggle having an income with taking care of her two children before they were in school.

“It was something I could do and still stay home with them,” she said. “I’ve always enjoyed baking.”

She said the idea for the business came after friends and family started asking her to bake for their parties and events. Five years later, she’s taken the home bakery to the next level with a brick-and-mortar shop in Iowa City. Butter Custom Bakery opened July 26.

Wright grew up baking with her mom and said she probably started baking around age 10.

“I remember making cookies with my mom — chocolate chip. She always puts toffee bits in hers, and I’ve started doing that here, too.”

As an adult, she taught herself additional skills by watching cooking shows and YouTube and with lots of practice.

“There was a lot of trial and error,” she said.

Wright lives in Williamsburg but grew up in Iowa City and graduated from Iowa City High School, so she said an Iowa City location for her business held appeal. When the location on South First Avenue was available, she decided the time was right.

She enjoyed the home bakery, but “it was kind of chaotic,” she said. “It’s nice to have space here to spread out and cool things.”

She’s also glad to have her home kitchen back.

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“My husband would ask, ‘Can I make dinner?’ And I would say, ‘No, order pizza. You cannot come into this kitchen.”

Her family didn’t always mind the bakery being at home. Drawing in a corner of the bakery on a recent morning, Wright’s daughter Grace, 9, declared her favorite item on her mom’s menu is cake pops.

“I was the taste-tester,” she said.

Specialties on Wright’s menu include cake doughnuts, muffins, frosted cupcakes and decorated sugar cookies. Other treats include things like caramel pecan rolls, cake pops, bars and French bread. She takes orders for custom cakes and caters outside events as well as baking for the shop. Customers can take their sweet treats to go or eat in the shop, where Wright also sells brewed coffee, cold drinks and milk.

In the backroom, she hopes to have parties and classes, such as cookie and cake decorating for both kids and adults.

“That’s not something I could do from my home,” she said.

The bakery’s name was inspired by one of her most important ingredients. While running her home bakery, she did some farmers markets, where she fielded a lot of questions about her products.

“People would ask if I used real butter,” she said.

The answer was always yes.

“It’s a quality thing, it’s about flavor,” she said.

Even though she’s moved the bakery out of her kitchen, she’s still dedicating a lot of time to it. She arrives at 5 a.m. to bake, and does prep work the night before, which allows the doughnuts to rise overnight.

She said the work and time is worth it, however, when she sees someone bite into a cookie.

“I really like sharing this with other people. Especially kids — I like seeing the joy a little dinosaur cookie can bring or how a Minnie Mouse cookie can completely make their day,” she said.

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