ST. ANNA — The Mast family didn’t set out with a master plan to open an Amish bakery.
But one thing led to another, and their newfound venture, Toasty Oven Bake Shoppe, recently celebrated its sixth month in business in rural Calumet County.
“My husband (Alvin) was bringing mini barns (storage sheds) to events in our area, so we decided for a little extra income I’ll do some baking and we’ll take them with us to sell,” Sarah Mast said.
“People started asking for more because they liked what we baked. So every year we’d bake more and more food to bring along. And that was fine with us, we liked doing it. At the same time, my husband was doing construction and his back was bothering him so he was ready to do something else.
“We thought if we did the bakery he could be at home with the family more and his back might not hurt so much. We like how it’s going. It’s nice having him home with the family, and all of us work together to make food for the bakery now.”
Alvin and Sarah Mast opened Toasty Oven Bake Shoppe in a building that used to serve as Alvin’s harness business. His carpentry skills came in handy as the family converted the structure into a bakery.
The area’s Amish community used to have a bakery for at least a decade, Sarah said, but it closed about two years ago.
The Masts, including their seven children, said they were happy to provide that service to the community again.
The family begins baking at about 8 a.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays in preparation for business hours later in the week. They typically wake up at 2:30 a.m. on Thursdays and Fridays, and get up even earlier on Saturdays, at 12:45 a.m.
The family also receives a helping hand from Sarah’s mother, Lavina Hochstetler, who lives about three miles away.
“She enjoys it,” Sarah said. “My mother taught me to bake, so she knows a lot about baking and we like having her here.”
Two to three girls from the Amish community also assist the Masts on occasion.
“Probably the hardest adjustment for everyone was getting up that early to have doughnuts ready, because it’s important we have them fresh every morning on the days we’re open,” Sarah said.
“We knew before we got started that’s how it was going to be, waking up a lot earlier like that. But the long days were an adjustment. I think we’re getting used to it now.”
Thankfully for the Masts, the commute isn’t far; their home is about 100 feet from the bakery.
Turnovers are the most popular item at the bakery, Sarah said, whereas doughnuts are “really hot sellers” at seasonal farmers markets in Elkhart Lake and Fond du Lac.
Cinnamon sticky buns are Sarah’s favorite indulgence. She said fellow Amish residents prefer breads and pies, as opposed to sweet treats like doughnuts.
“A lot of the Amish here already do their own baking, so that’s why we have more non-Amish customers,” Sarah said. “But we do have some Amish coming in.”
Aside from candles made and sold by her niece, Sarah said everything available at the bakery is grown and/or made on site.
“We mostly make family recipes,” Sarah said, “but we have a cookbook with recipes from other Amish communities we use sometimes.”
Sarah’s son, Philip, 15, said he enjoys doing whatever is needed to help make the family business successful.
“It’s all our family, so I like being at home helping,” said Philip, who plays a lead role in mixing batters and overseeing product labeling and bagging.
Sarah echoed similar sentiments, saying, “The best part of the bakery is having our family together. My husband can be home for the children and for me. And we like having everyone together. We just like it all around.”
Toasty Oven Bake Shoppe, W2360 Kiel Road (about four miles southwest of New Holstein), is open year-round 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, and 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays. For more information, call 920-894-1776.