ILWACO — One Ilwaco High School grad turned her passion for baking into a budding business with a growing reputation and a strong following.

Madeline Dickerson says she’s been baking her whole life. The Julia Child book Baking With Julia was an inspiration.

“I started working through the breads and the sweet pastries and just loved it,” she said.

The result is the Pink Poppy Bakery.

The Big Picture

Owning a bakery was something Dickerson always wanted to do, but she studied photojournalism and photography at the University of Oregon. Her double major also included a degree in cinema studies.

She worked for the Chinook Observer in Long Beach for a while, then went to Ireland for three months and worked on an organic farm.

“While I was there trying to decide what to do when I got back I said, ‘Well, you know, if I’m going to be living back at home where I grew up, it would be a really nice time to start a business,’ so I did.”

Dickerson likes the hands-on aspect of baking, especially working with bread.

“I really enjoy old fashioned baked goods like pies and things like that,” she said. “I love kneading dough and doing stuff with my hands. I don’t do that quite as much with a lot of the stuff I do for the market, because I do a lot of cupcakes, which are fun, but I really like breads and more wholesome old-time stuff.”

Olde Tyme with Modern Twist

Gluten-free and vegan products are a big aspect of her business.

“I do old-time baked goods with a modern touch to them,” she said. “So I also offer a lot of gluten-free and dairy-free and vegan items. So at the markets I always have at least one if not two or three gluten-free and vegan items. And I have a client base that comes every week just for those. … The thing I like most about it is when I have little kids who come who are gluten intolerant or egg intolerant and they come (and say) ‘Oh, I never get to have cookies!’ and it’s like ‘You can have that!’”

It’s more expensive to do, she said, but not necessarily harder. Gluten free is probably the hardest, especially when trying to do gluten and dairy free, she said.

Kitchen Space

Dickerson uses the prep kitchen at the Adrift Hotel and Spa in Long Beach. It works out well, because she makes cupcakes for the Pickled Fish restaurant on the top floor of the hotel and makes scones for restaurant’s morning baskets. She has also made baked goods for other packages the hotel offers.

Working at the hotel saved her the expense of building her own certified commercial kitchen.

“When I first started, I looked into having my own kitchen certified, but at that point I was living in Oregon and the rules are different,” Dickerson said. “Now I could potentially get my kitchen certified, but you can’t do wholesale if you have a cottage kitchen, but my kitchen right now is perfect.”

If You Bake It …

A majority of Pink Poppy’s advertising is on Facebook, Dickerson said, but her reputation as a baker is growing. She worked the Ilwaco Saturday Market and the Astoria Sunday Market in 2012; she’s pared it down to just the Ilwaco market this summer. She also does popup markets and holiday markets at Christmastime.

Guests at the Adrift are starting to take notice also.

“Doing stuff with the Adrift has been a huge help,” she said. “The market has people from out of town obviously, but the Adrift, they see my name, they get my card when they get my stuff, so when they come back they’re like, ‘Oh, we had your stuff when we were at the Adrift; can we get it again?’ and I’ve had lots of people do that.”

She’s shipped a lot of cookies, caramels and other delectables to visitors who tried her products while on vacation.

“It’s definitely not just the Peninsula, which has been fun,” she said. “And I have people coming over from Astoria now, that came to me at the Astoria Market, but now that I’m not over there, they’ll make a special trip.”

A Perfect Fit

Dickerson has been asked about starting a storefront, but she decided the current set up is perfect for her lifestyle at this point. It gives her the flexibility to work the hours she wants and travel when she wants. She may expand and hire one employee to do more cakes and larger special orders she can’t do when it is just her, especially on Thursday and Friday when she’s preparing for the Saturday Market.

“Right now I’m living off the bakery, which is great and more than I ever could have asked for,” she said. “It’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it. I feel like I’m at a point in my life when I can work super-super hard and be burned out and figure it out later.”

Pink Poppy Bakery

Owner: Madeline Dickerson

Contact: (360) 244-2487

Where to buy: Ilwaco Saturday Market, Pickled Fish restaurant at the Adrift Hotel and Spa in Long Beach, or call for special orders

More information: Search for Pink Poppy Bakery on Facebook

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