Mary Pat Guerrier has a friend who requests just one birthday gift each year: Mary Pat's chocolate cake.
“She maybe shares it with her family after I leave it on her doorstep,” Guerrier said, laughing.
So it makes sense that Guerrier's bakery, Drizzles, serves some moist, magnificent-tasting chocolate cupcakes. And delectable doughnuts, baked not fried. And cream cheese-frosted cinnamon rolls the size of your face. And flaky pastries and moist muffins, both bursting with fruit.
You get the picture.
Drizzles, which has been open around a year, is a one-woman operation. Mary Pat arrives at the bakery in a tiny corner storefront in Olde Towne Bellevue in the wee hours of the morning. She bakes everything, washes the dishes and locks the door each afternoon. Her family helped her remodel the space, which used to be a wedding gown shop and a flower shop. Sometimes her husband mans the counter on the weekends.
She has tinkered with the recipes for years, using her family and friends as taste-testers.
After a number of friends mentioned the place to me, I stopped by Drizzles early one morning to find the tiny shop, decorated for Valentine's Day, closed — it's not open Monday and Tuesday. So I returned bright and early on Wednesday to get a dozen doughnuts.
I shared with my co-workers; after all, a food writer can eat only so many sweets by herself.
Drizzles feels like an old-school neighborhood place with a glinting, vintage counter, a few small tables with metal chairs and sweet seasonal decorations. It smells like a bakery should. A few seats across from the counter next to the window would be a good place to have a morning treat. A spread of doughnuts, sweet rolls, muffins and turnovers filled the case, and Mary Pat greeted us with a friendly smile and answers for all my questions.
Yes, the Easy Bake oven displayed behind the counter is just like the one she used when she was a kid. Her sister gave it to her for Christmas last year because her original one got lost.
Yes, she has different flavors of doughnuts and at least one type of muffin each day. No schedule. Just whatever she feels like baking.
My husband helped me pick out a dozen doughnuts: Chocolate with chocolate icing, peanut butter banana, apple crumble, vanilla with buttercream frosting and glazed lemon blueberry.
As you might imagine, I was popular that morning at work walking in with a big chocolate-brown box of slightly warm cake doughnuts.
My co-workers liked the lemon blueberry and peanut butter banana doughnuts the best. Hardly anyone missed the greasy texture that almost always comes with fried doughnuts. Mary Pat's doughnuts were tender and moist. She earned points with everyone for her creative flavor combinations.
The peanut butter banana's banana flavor was subtle and natural and hung out behind the bolder peanut butter taste. A drizzle of chocolate on the top went well with the nuttiness.
The fruity lemon blueberry doughnut had a glaze that Mary Pat told me later is a thinned-down version of her buttercream frosting. It didn't overwhelm the delicate, cakey doughnut. One of my editors, not usually a fan of glazed doughnuts, liked that one the best.
Lots of my co-workers commented that the doughnuts were more like cake, especially in the case of the apple doughnut, which many compared positively to coffee cake. The chocolate and vanilla doughnuts were basic but pleasant.
The Drizzles doughnut is baked instead of fried because the installation and upkeep of a fryer would have cost thousands of dollars that Mary Pat said she didn't have — or want to spend.
Before she opened the bakery, Mary Pat was a social worker for 15 years, mostly with the elderly.
“I've always had a love affair with baking, though,” she said. “I've been talking about opening a bakery for 20 years.”
When the assisted living facility where she was working closed, she and her husband decided that the time was right to open that bakery.
“This is not for the faint of heart,” she said. “It's a ton of work.”
Mary Pat was at the counter again the next day when a co-worker picked up a dozen cupcakes. Again, we got a selection based on what Mary Pat felt like baking: vanilla, chocolate, red velvet and pale green margarita cupcakes.
The cakes induced lots of moaning and “mmm”-ing from my editors, who loved the moist crumb and almost all of the not-too-sweet frostings, with the exception of the margarita cupcake. It had sweeter frosting than the rest and lacked a salty kick some people said they'd have liked.
When I asked Mary Pat if she'd considered adding a salty note to the cupcake, she said no, but she also said that she takes advice from her customers seriously. She does do one sweet and salty cupcake — a caramel cupcake with caramel buttercream frosting and crumbled pretzels on top. She said it's a popular combination.
The Drizzles chocolate cupcake would have been a contender, I think, in last year's cupcake Food Prowl. The cake was moist, the frosting not too sweet and the textures of both spot-on. Mary Pat told me later that she puts coffee in the frosting, just like the bakery that won the Prowl.
She said she knows that some customers may not like her “whatever she feels like baking” approach or the fact that her shop has only a few of each item every day. On the days she has cake orders, those take almost all of her time.
She's still managed to lure regular customers, she said, who seem to like what she does enough to forgive all that.
“There is something to be said about keeping it small and maintaining the quality,” she said, “and I don't cut corners.”
She's hardly done any advertising, and most customers tell her they heard about the place from someone else, just like I did.
Doing a few things and doing them right matters, and that's what you'll find at Drizzles. Just get there early before the doughnuts are already devoured.
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