Kristine M. Kierzek
Matilda Bakehouse brings together the best of Allie Fisher’s baking background.
Her first teacher was Mom, and she’s never met a cookie she doesn’t like. Yet she studied in Chicago French Pastry Schooland much of his resume includes fine cuisines and the creation of high-end, perfectly plated desserts.
When she launched Matilda Bakehouse in August 2020, it was a way to continue baking during a pandemic. As a mother, she found being her own boss suited her well.
Each week means a rotating selection of cookies, cakes, breads, pastries and other delicacies for markets, pop-ups and pickups at its River Hills location. Fisher also does catering and custom orders. Currently, she is working on a permanent weekly pop-up in the Third Ward and hopes to announce details soon.
To order online, a list of pop-ups, markets and other events, go to matildabakehouse.com
AFTER;:When the pandemic disrupted their work, some Milwaukee pastry chefs went out on their own
Question: What is your background and training?
To respond: I went to the French Pastry School (in Chicago). I graduated in 2009, then I stayed on an internship. You work for free, but you can redo the whole course and more. I met great chefs and I was a teacher’s assistant. You can do fun things you’d never do in class, like delivering a chocolate centerpiece through downtown Chicago traffic. Just 10 blocks away, which feels like 800 years in Chicago city traffic. But you learn how to do it, and once you’ve done it, you know you can.
Q: What has been one of the most valuable takeaways from cooking school?
A: One of my teachers has this long list of amazing things he’s done, he used to teach baking classes…he was like you’d have tough days where you wouldn’t want to go to work, or things just didn’t go right good in the kitchen. Remember, you are just baking a cake.
Q: What inspired you to open Matilda Bakehouse?
A: It started as an artisan bakery in August 2020, mainly because, like everyone else in this industry, we lost our jobs. We are currently doing pop-ups and markets, and pickups in River Hills, as we don’t have a storefront.
Q: What was the biggest challenge between professional kitchens and home baking when you started? Do you now work in a commercial kitchen?
A: Yes. I really appreciate being able to bake more than 12 cookies at a time. We were receiving orders for several hundred cookies. I woke up, cooked nonstop until 3 am. Now I can do a few hundred in 40 minutes.
Q: What got you into cooking? Have you always wanted to do this professionally?
A: I cooked a lot with my mother when I was little. Throughout high school, I would say baking became this great stress reliever. … At some point, I decided that was what I wanted to do. I got up and watched Food Network. They had Jacques Torres and he had chocolate showpieces, and they were showing competitions. I was totally into it.
Supposedly when I was little, I told my mother that I was going to become a baker and that in the summer I was going to cut my hair in France.
Q: Have you ever been to France? Has this influenced your career?
A: I was able to go to France for a family vacation. … Every morning, we took a croissant, we went to the bakery, to the cheese dairy. It was magical, but I never worked in Paris. I worked with Kurt Fogle in Milwaukee. It was awesome, with the constant repetition of skills and finding out what I liked…
I worked with Kurt a long time ago at the Pfister Hotel. When Kurt moved to Surg, I moved with him. Eventually I moved to Illinois, back to Milwaukee. I was pastry chef for Bacchus and Lake Park Bistro. I then went to Rocket Baby because the kids and restaurant hours are not the best combination. Especially in pastry, because you are the last dish.
Q: How do you approach things at Matilda Bakehouse these days?
A: It’s a kind of humility to go back. I’m going to make a birthday cake, a really great birthday cake using great ingredients and flavors and these texture profiles. I think that brings me back to why I loved to cook. … I want to do things that make me happy, that I want to eat. Then I also have to bring it to a certain level of skill, and I like pretty food. I’m not going to lie.
Q: What can people expect from your cookies?
A: Cookies are my favorite. Some people like cakes, I like cookies. This is my reference. I don’t care if anyone made it, or if I made it, in the best bakery in the world, or a pack of Oreos. I love cookies. We change our cookies every two months. Cinnamon cookies will be at least until June.
Q: What’s your best cookie tip?
A: I firmly believe that cookies should be cold. Flavor-wise, the dough tastes much better after it has rested for 24 hours. It develops a whole different flavor profile. It changes the cookie, rather than if you pick up and bake immediately. It’s like everything you cook, if you give it time to hydrate a little longer, the butter and the fat to solidify, there is something magical about it.
Q: Where do you find inspiration for recipes and flavors?
A: I like to do what makes me happy, and by owning a business, I can do that. … A lot of it is about trials. An example, the cinnamon roll cookie. I love cinnamon rolls. I used to stress cook them in high school. I also love all kinds of cookies. Why not make a cookie out of it? It sounds fun and it’s a challenge. Then let’s make it frosted, but not the frosting on the outside, because from a wrapper perspective, it’s messy. So it’s inside, a nice surprise.
Q: What is the most popular thing on your menu?
A: Either our Chocolate Croissant or our Cinnamon Bows.
Q: What is the first cookbook you remember buying?
Q: Which cookbook did you give as a gift?
A: I recommend Jacquy Pfeiffer’s book (“The Art of French Pastry” 2013). It’s so good if they ask a lot about cooking. Otherwise, anything from Pierre Hermé. All of his baking books and basics are so good, whether it’s the macaroons book or whatever he helped Dorie Greenspan co-write. If you are studying pastry, you must have one of his books.
Table Chat features interviews with Wisconsinites, or native Wisconsinites, who work in restaurants or support the restaurant industry; or guest chefs. To suggest people to profile, email [email protected]