New Mad Batter Bakery in St. Charles mixes family, creativity

  • Sisters Amy Toppel, left, and Amanda O'Connor at Mad Batter Bakery & Confections in downtown St. Charles. O'Connor is co-owner and Toppel, who used to manage the bakery at Blue Goose Market, is the baker and manager.

    Sisters Amy Toppel, left, and Amanda O'Connor at Mad Batter Bakery & Confections in downtown St. Charles. O'Connor is co-owner and Toppel, who used to manage the bakery at Blue Goose Market, is the baker and manager. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

 
 
Posted10/29/2021 6:00 AM

St. Charles downtown and tourism planners years ago liked the concept of a big Scarecrow Festival every fall to not only please local residents, but also attract visitors from near and far who might take notice of the city's businesses, restaurants and bars.

That even worked for me this year as I walked around Scarecrow Festival -- and I've lived and worked around here nearly 50 years.

 

I spotted a new business; the type that would generally catch my eye and sweet tooth. Mad Batter Bakery & Confections opened at 320 W. Main St. Oct. 8, about a week later than owner Amanda O'Connor had hoped for, but in time to draw hundreds of customers during the Scarecrow Festival.

Based on the first weeks of operation, O'Connor can see that area residents were eager for a new bakery to open in St. Charles. And she knows the operation is in good hands. Her sister Amy Toppel is the baker and manager at Mad Batter -- an Alice in Wonderland-themed bakery. Toppel comes with plenty of experience, having managed the bakery at Blue Goose Market in St. Charles for the past 23 years.

Mad Batter Bakery has opened at 320 W. Main St. in St. Charles.
Mad Batter Bakery has opened at 320 W. Main St. in St. Charles. - Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

"My husband and I own Mad Batter, but we did it for my sister because we knew it was time for her to manage her own bakery," O'Connor said.

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The bakery has already drawn customers who were loyal to Toppel's cookies, cakes, muffins and custom treats at Blue Goose. Toppel says she is ready to deliver even more sweet creations from her own bakery.

"I had expanded my creativity about as much as I could at Blue Goose," Toppel said of her decision to work for her sister. "I knew what everyone was looking for, and I had to keep in tune with what a grocery store is expected to sell."

Toppel expects to keep taking custom orders for cakes and cookies at Mad Batter and customers can expect her creativity to be on full display as she no longer has to operate under any constraints that a grocery store might present.

She likes the idea that "a lot more imagination" will come into play, which is not surprising when you walk into the bakery and see the Alice in Wonderland theme at work.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 
Mad Batter Bakery & Confections has opened at 320 W. Main St. in St. Charles.
Mad Batter Bakery & Confections has opened at 320 W. Main St. in St. Charles. - Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

The location formerly housed Two Wild Seeds baking company, so it was just a matter of resetting the 1,300 -- square-foot building into what Amy wanted it to be.

O'Connor is optimistic about what the future can hold for Mad Batter. She also owns Solaia Salon and Spa, which was closed during the height of the pandemic. She went to work with her sister at Blue Goose during the salon's down time.

That planted the idea to set up a bakery where they could both create goods for weddings, birthdays and other special events, in addition to filling the shelves with tasty everyday must-have items.

"There is a great variety at the bakery because you just walk in each morning and make whatever it is you feel like making," O'Connor said. "The other day, we baked all day and did pumpkin pie cupcakes stuffed with cream cheese icing and cinnamon butter cream on the top."

When O'Connor mentioned that the brownies are so popular it is hard to keep on them on the shelves, I knew I had to try one. She's right. The huge brownie with chocolate icing is called a "Shareable Brownie" and I found the perfect person to share it with: Me.

A coffee comeback

It's always somewhat puzzling when you hear about a Starbucks coffee shop closing. So, we scratched our heads a bit when the Starbucks along First Street in St. Charles closed.

But owners of a shop called Coroco Coffee were handing out free samples during Scarecrow Fest in front that location at 101 S. First St. as a teaser to what is coming next.

They intend to open a Coroco Coffee there in the next week or so, expanding their base from Sycamore.

So far, those familiar with Coroco Coffee in Sycamore are singing its praises on Facebook.

First Street in St. Charles could really use a coffee shop to replace that Starbucks. It's just a perfect setting for people to drink coffee on outside tables during warm weather, or sit along the stools looking out the front windows of the store.

The folks at Coroco Coffee likely made a very wise decision.

It's a 'Wonderful' raffle

It's a pretty simple math formula when you think about it. For the St. Charles History Museum to have a successful 50/50 raffle fundraiser this year, people have to buy raffle tickets.

The museum is selling those now at $5 each or five for $20 as it prepares to host the "It's a Wonderful Life in St. Charles" holiday gala fundraiser featuring the raffle drawing at 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 10, at the Dunham Woods Riding Club in Wayne.

A cocktail reception and three-course meal will unfold along with a special musical and theatrical program.

The event is open to the public, with gala tickets costing $125 per person. Reservations can be made for tables of eight to 10 people. Ticket reservations can be made on the museum website.

Raffle tickets are available at the museum, 215 E. Main St. in St. Charles. More information is available at (630) 584-6967.

Back for the health of it

Another event that had to take a step back because of the COVID-19 pandemic is back to give us a quick jolt of holiday spirit -- and raise some money for Fox Valley Food for Health.

A group of volunteers for Fox Valley Food for Health will bring their specialty foods, high-end gifts, desserts and decorating items to a sale from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 13, at PB Kitchen Design, 200 S. Third St. in Geneva.

Ten percent of the profits and donations will go to Fox Valley Food for Health, an organization that helps community members get through serious illnesses with healthy food. The group also teaches teens how to prepare this type of food, giving them good nutritional habits for life.

Event organizer Susan Leigh of FVFH was quick to point out that the local artisans will have goods like cookies, homemade Swedish crackers, holiday breads, jams, mustards, pies and seasonal bulbs to plant. Many other holiday items from birch-bark art to aprons and wool clothing will also be available.

dheun@sbcglobal.net

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