By William Smith
It seems like Mallory Kienast is always baking.
She learned the art from her grandmother and mother at a young age and never stopped. Kienast was the girl everyone looked to for treats — even when she was a youth in the 4-H club.
“People liked my cinnamon rolls and my creations, and I started baking competitively,” she said.
Then Kienast took things further, and a hobby became a side hustle. She was one of those high school kids who carried their own business cards.
“I made little business cards that said ‘Made by Mallory,’ ’’ she said. “My mom was a special needs associate at West Burlington School. So a lot of my sales were to other teachers in the breakroom.”
This Saturday, Kienast will be showing off her baking expertise at the World Food and Music Festival in Des Moines — for the second year. Her buttercream proved such a hit she was immediately invited back after last year’s festival.
“It’s a really great way to celebrate running my cottage bakery,” she said.
Kienast is a home baker right now, but she’s hoping that will change in the future. She’s working with the health department, so she can sell her “Made by Mallory” sweets in local stores. The macarons — featuring a proprietary recipe invented by Kienast — give the cookies a softer texture than most macaron cookies. It’s her signature dish.
“So your standard American buttercream, you know if it’s sitting out at a party or anything like that it kind of develops that little crust to it. I didn’t like that. It would always make me slide off the frosting because I want to bite into the softness. So I kind of worked to create my own buttercream recipe that does not crust so it maintains a really soft bite. So it’s really ideal for parties and events,” she said.
Kienast has created over 50 signature flavors by experimenting with ganache fillings. She even makes ganache cakes. To ensure her customers get to try all the flavors, Made by Mallory offers a monthly subscription for a multi-pack of different flavors.
“I also have a goal of getting a food truck and a long-term goal of getting a storefront. I would love to have a storefront bakery right along Jefferson Street,” she said.
Kienast never sought baking as a career path.
A Notre Dame High School graduate who started out in the Burlington School District, she took a short hiatus from baking while attending college at the University of Northern Iowa.
That hiatus didn’t last long. Kienast had already started her “Made by Mallory” brand before she graduated.
“I would sell at the farmers market in Cedar Falls,” she said.
Kienast majored in marketing and public relations and got into marketing work just before the pandemic hit.
“I worked with local small businesses,” she said.
The pandemic gave Kienast a chance to pursue her hobby as a career.
She and her husband have three boys between the ages of 1 and 5, so she knew it had to be a financial success.
It’s been far more than that. Her oldest boys are helping out in the kitchen, baking alongside her. It’s everything she hoped for.
“They keep me busy baking,” she said with a laugh.
Kienast enjoys the physical act of baking but likes to look beyond her oven into the bigger picture.
She’s proud to sell a quality product of her own design. But she’s even more delighted to see that product that can bring joy to those around her.
One of Burlington’s favorite bakers, the retired Martha Wolf, shares that sentiment. Before Martha retired, she shared a word with Kienast as Kienast dined at the Ivy Bake Shoppe with a friend.
“We were just being present in the moment of enjoying good food together, and we weren’t on our phones at all. Martha came out to say that she really noticed that and how much that touched her,” Kienast said.
Kienast still gets goosebumps telling the story. That conversation congealed her determination and desire.
“That’s totally something I want to create for people — a time that they can just really be present with each other. And I think it’s so much more important today because we have 1,000 things to distract us,” Kienast said.
To find out more about Made by Mallory and her subscription service, visit the “Made by Mallory” page on Facebook.