Upon entering Treat Cupcake Bar, the tantalizing aroma of fresh from the oven cupcakes wraps you in warmth and nostalgia, immediately transporting you back to the comfort of your childhood kitchen. The vibrant colors, fun fonts, eye-catching display case, and full view of the open workspace alive with activity and bustling bakers all contribute to the visually enticing environment and cheerful ambience. Featuring classic flavors and delightful decorations evocative of birthday parties gone by, the menu selections showcased would tempt the taste buds of the most discerning sweet tooth and enthuse any kid or kid-at-heart. You can’t help but be enchanted by its charm, uplifted by its whimsy, and drawn to its fancifully adorned sweets sure to make every patron smile.
I had the pleasure of sitting down with the exceptionally talented head pastry chef at Treat and one of its visionaries, Adie Sprague, to discuss the bakery’s mission and her journey to personal and professional success, one cupcake at a time. Renowned for her exceptional designs and boundless ingenuity, Adie revels in the opportunity to share her bliss through food. Recognizing the profound connection between cake and life’s most meaningful events, she remembers how growing up, the cake was always the component of a celebration that signified the day was special. Now granted the opportunity to contribute to others’ unforgettable moments with commemorative centerpieces, Adie finds it incredibly rewarding to play such a significant role in her customers’ lives. The sincere appreciation expressed for her lovingly prepared and meticulously designed cupcakes, which she thoughtfully tailored to their event, serves as priceless validation that her work truly has a purpose. The positive feedback received aids in building lasting relationships and begets the prospect of later projects, with an engagement party ultimately leading to a wedding, anniversary, baby shower, 1st birthday, and so forth. She recalls the return of Treat’s first repeat customer as a pivotal achievement that solidified possibilities for long-term growth. But to Adie, even the smallest celebration, whether for a good grade earned in school, or overcoming a fear and trying something new for the first time, deserves a cupcake to rejoice in the accomplishment.
She brims with pride each time a child’s face lights up as they approach the bakery’s main attraction, Treat’s extensive toppings bar, where individuality and customization reign supreme, and patrons personally construct their order. This innovative “make-a-treat” concept is the unique element that sets the bakery apart from its competitors at the height of the cupcake craze, yet to Adie, it represents so much more. With flavors chosen, bare cupcakes are dispensed alongside a generous mound of frosting and selection of sprinkles, candies, or cookies; guests of all ages are then encouraged to embrace their creativity and take a hands-on approach in making the dessert their very own. Thanks to this popular feature, a visit to Treat is transformed, no longer simply a stop at the neighborhood bakery, but a family-fun activity that exercises the imagination and amuses the mouth as well as the mind.
You needn’t look far for inspiration, however, as Treat’s own handmade embellishments are miniature edible masterpieces, each demonstrating an expert use of color and dimension with a focus on intricate detail. It’s no surprise that Adie has a background in fine art, having explored her natural born talent in college while expanding her foundation in all mediums, most specifically sculpture. It was her first college level class that shifted her perspective on the world, pushed her to reexamine her surroundings in a 3-d way, and unearthed a deeper understanding of how to recreate this vision. The training would prove invaluable down the road, but the transition from paintbrush to pastry bag was a gradual one. As a young girl, dreams of owning her own cupcake shop swirled like buttercream in her head, however, there were quite a few detours with her educational and professional plans for the future prior to crossing paths with Treat. With practicality at the forefront, studying architecture in graduate school was the next logical step, until an unsatisfactory job interview changed everything. Finally willing to admit that her heart just wasn’t in it, she granted herself permission to take a risk, and pursue her passion. That very afternoon, she marched with conviction to a nearby bakery, resume in hand, ready to start the next chapter in her life with a clear goal of finding joy in each and every day.
Now open to the possibility of making her dream a reality, she stumbled across an online ad that offered such a chance- the position of head baker and a partnership with owner Dave LaLiberte in building a cupcake business from the ground up. With fervor and dedication, they threw themselves into the planning process, implementing influential decisions, shaping the store layout and function, experimenting and tweaking recipes (many in her Brookline apartment’s tiny oven), defining the bakery’s objective and bringing it to life. As a leader and authority figure, Adie did not take the responsibility of her position lightly, rather her central aim was to generate a “small functioning unit of happiness,” reflected in the contentment of the customers as well as employees. Providing an environment where the staff could do what they love and like her, chase their ambitions, was of the utmost importance; together, they could each embrace the optimum outlet for creative expression the Treat kitchen granted. In a mere three years and with the help of her team, Adie has fostered that idyllic unit into a culinary success story, welcoming new challenges as she and the business continue to grow. Whether it’s opening a second location, expanding their allergen-friendly selections to provide that one-of-a-kind Treat experience for the gluten-free and vegan, or introducing full-sized cakes to meet the requests of their many fans, Treat Cupcake Bar is thriving as it matures, and Adie couldn’t be happier!
written by Joy Saunders, baking blogger of Hot Oven, Warm Heart: http://hotovenwarmheart.wordpress.com/