Nestled between a massage spa and a sports shop, Milk and Cookies Bakeshop’s blue sign stands out against the browns of the building in the congested parking lot along Calgary Trail. Inside, the bakery is cheerful with bright lights and colours. It looks bigger on the inside too, with a kitchen on the right, a decorating room straight ahead, and extra space on the left.
At the front, there is a display case. Inside are mouth-wateringly delectable treats, from cupcakes to cookie sandwiches.
“But the Birthday Cake Brownie Cookie is the most delectable thing ever,” cookie and cake decorator and baker Shienal Prasad says. The Birthday Cake Brownie Cookie, she explains, has vanilla buttercream and milk chocolate ganache — with sprinkles on top, of course.
Inside the pink decorating room, there is a rack of cookies on the left and food colouring on the right. Sprinkles and other decorations fill clear jars, lining the wall like a Pinterest dream. Owner and baker Rachelle Germain methodically works on a new batch of cookies.
Germain expanded her bakery in the middle of the pandemic. “I had been speaking with the landlord about it in the previous year, because we were running out of space in our current shop,” she says.
Since the neighbours running the tailor shop next door weren’t renewing their lease, Germain swooped in. She was hesitant to go through with her decision during the pandemic, but it was an opportunity she couldn’t pass up.
Her father, Don Germain, who had previously helped his daughter open the shop in 2018, helped her expand her bakery in June 2020. This meant Germain could have a decorating room and a walk-in cooler. For the expansion, Germain picked out the wall colours, painting them alongside her mother and a friend. She changed the colours of her logo and created a new website.
“I just wanted the colours to be whimsical and cheerful to represent our brand,” she says. “I really love how they look in the new space.”
Germain’s personality permeates throughout her bakeshop, displayed neatly in both the cookies she makes and in the objects around her. She recites the puns the bakeshop created for Valentine’s Day — like an avocado cookie saying, “You guac my world.” The walk-in cooler is named Joaquin — “Get it?” she asks — and the mixers are Carlos, Carl and Carlita.
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“I think it’s pretty crazy that I started off with just two employees and this tiny little store,” Germain says.
With a straight face, looking at the cookie she is decorating, she says, “the llama astronaut is called Alfredo.”
The llama astronaut, or “llamanaut,“ was part of an outer-space theme.
“We had a llama cookie cutter and we just gave him a helmet. And a little space suit,” Germain says, adding that Alfredo has since turned into the staff’s favourite cookie design and has now been made into a pin. The llama cookie inspired a whole range of animals in space, including sloths and dinosaurs.
In 2019, the bakery made 40,000 sugar cookies. In 2020, it made more.
The Milk and Cookies Bakeshop donates $2 from every Cake Scraps in a Sad Box to a charity involved in mental health. Over the past summer, it also donated to the Centre for Race and Culture, and Shades of Colour to support the Black Lives Matter movement.
Germain first began her business at farmers’ markets and craft fairs. At the time, she was working as a lifeguard and swim instructor for the City of Edmonton. Finding it difficult to break into the Sherwood Park baking bubble, she moved her business to Mill Woods. Her space in south-side Edmonton was something she insisted on, having found a crowd of people who wanted to buy her cookies.
“Maybe because everyone in Sherwood Park bakes themselves. So, they don’t go out and buy cookies,” she says.
She inherited her passion for baking from her mother, with whom she would bake regularly growing up.
“I don’t know about daily, but there were always cookies in the house,” she says.
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This article appears in the March 2021 issue of Edify