Today we’d like to introduce you to Amanda Mastroddi.
Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
My passion has always been baking, and I have been baking for as long as I can remember – whether it was for family and friends, co-workers, or church gatherings, I always enjoyed challenging myself by baking new recipes that I knew others would enjoy. In the back of my mind, I would imagine myself starting up a business and selling my baked goods, but I would get intimated and overwhelmed, never really sure where to start. During the quarantine last year, like many other bakers, I was finding myself baking new things and one dessert that always intrigued me was macarons. While I had enjoyed them at local boba shops, I never brought myself to bake them myself – until April of 2020. Macarons are a special kind of cookie that requires a baker with a lot of patience, that is for sure! Batch after batch, day after day, I would try to perfect these difficult little delicacies. Baking macarons is not just about having the right ingredients. You also need to have the right materials, technique, temperature, and did I mention patience?! While it was tiring and frustrating, I kept working at it, learning from my mistakes and improving my technique. Over time, I became more and more confident and pleased with the final result. It was fun to incorporate new flavors and colors, and before I knew it, I had built a solid menu that I could begin selling.
In August, I took the plunge and started advertising my macarons, which are baked using the French method. Like any new endeavor, it started small. After building a Facebook and Instagram following under the bakery name, I started offering monthly flavors, including seasonal flavors. It wasn’t long before I began receiving custom orders and really making a name for myself. In November, I began vending at the local farmers market in East Orlando, which helped to build my following even more. From the baking to the packaging – there is love and care in everything I do. My macarons are baked with only the best ingredients, including Ghirardelli chocolate for all of my fillings. Each package is adorned with a ribbon, sealed with a sticker and ingredient label and finished with a ‘thank you’ card. Thanks to word of mouth and some loyal clients, I continue to build my menu, offer custom orders and vend most Sundays. While I still work full time, I make time to bake on nights and weekends to keep up with orders and events. In 2021 I hope to grow even more and eventually sell out of a mobile food trailer, which will give me more exposure and opportunities to serve my community.
Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back, would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Macarons are tricky little cookies that require a lot of time and patience to master. While learning to bake them, I watched countless videos online to learn tricks, tips, techniques and suggestions from the best in the business. During the learning period, I lost a lot of money and ingredients to bad batches – they tasted great, but the structure of the cookie just wasn’t right. Some cookies would come out hollow while some would crack, some would stick to the baking mat while some would burn and so on. With macarons, there are a lot of things that can go wrong, and like many bakers, I experienced all of them. In the end, however, I am proud to say that I came up with my own recipe after adapting others’.
Appreciate you sharing that. What should we know about Sweet as Grace Bakery?
Sweet as Grace Bakery was birthed in August of 2020 after countless hours of macaron baking and troubleshooting. We specialize in French macarons, which is an almond flour meringue sandwich cookie with a creamy filling. Ours is filled with various chocolate ganaches (milk, dark and white), often coupled with extracts, sprinkles or jams. Our French macarons are different from others in that we only use ganache fillings rather than buttercream and we only use Ghirardelli chocolate. We also use organic almond flour and all food-safe materials. An added benefit is that almost every flavor is gluten-free! Our packaging also stands out as each package is adorned with ribbon, sealed with a sticker and ingredient label and finished with a ‘thank you’ card – something that we receive a lot of comments about. Clients really appreciate the small details and I really enjoy putting care into every detail. As the baker and creator behind Sweet as Grace Bakery (named after my dog), I am most proud of my perseverance and loyal clientele. We have several clients that purchase regularly and also visit the weekly market to show their support. It is such a joy when a new client tries one of our macarons for the first time – we are told over and over again that ours are the best, even by clients who purchase them regularly from larger chains. It is very rewarding to know that your hard work and efforts are not only being enjoyed but also recognized as one of the best!
How do you think about luck?
I don’t believe in luck so much as I do blessing and opportunities. I believe when one door closes, another opens and that it happens for a reason. There are some markets that I wanted to be a part of but was not able to for one reason or another, and others that I was a part of that ended up being huge successes! Even when a market doesn’t go as planned (due to weather, attendance, etc.) I appreciate the exposure and learn what I can do differently next time.
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- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: sweetasgracebakery
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/sweetasgracebakery