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Longmont Local: Baking with love from home

Mary Beth Chasen turned her hobby into a business.

Mary Beth Chasen fell in love with baking when she was young. She decided to turn her hobby into a business, baking traditional dessert breads with unique twists from her Longmont home.

Chasen started Oven Spring Home Kitchen in 2014, just a couple years after the Colorado Cottage Food Act was enacted allowing certain items, including baked goods to be made in residential homes and sold directly to consumers. 

For about 30 years, Chasen worked in the engineering industry and still works as a CAD technician. She started her baking business to help pay off student loans, but said it turned into more of a passion project.

“Well, I do have a regular nine-to-five job so I was looking for something originally, that would pay down student loan debt, and I thought, you know, this is something that can be more than just a hobby,” Chasen said. “I realized through the years that it would take a lot more bread baking, and I would probably have to go commercial in order to pay down the student loan debt. So right now, it's more a labor of love than it is trying to profit from it.”

The home bakery offers specialty dessert breads, including familiar goods such as gingerbread and banana bread, but reimagined by Chasen with local and or organic ingredients.

The gingerbread has an extra depth of flavor from a dark stout, often using the Milk Stout Nitro from local brewery Left Hand Brewing Company. Colorado fire-roasted chilies add a hint of spice to Oven Spring Home Kitchen’s sweet banana bread.

Chasen embraces the homemade aspect of her business, and orders are created from micro-batches and delivered by the baker. She delivers for free in Boulder County.

Since she was 12-years-old, Chasen has worked with homemade baked goods. After baking a marble cake from a Hershey’s cookbook she ordered from the back of a cocoa tin, she was hooked.

Though Oven Spring Home Kitchen launched in 2014, Chasen started developing the small business’ recipes about two decades ago. Chasen and her friend walked through a pumpkin farm during their lunch break in southern California, where she grew up. It was the day after Halloween, and the farm was transitioning from a pumpkin patch to selling Christmas trees. Seeing all the autumn fruits going to waste, Chasen and her friend decided to take the pumpkins home.

“We took as many as we could carry with us, and then we went back and got our cars and went back to this pumpkin patch and took a few more,” Chasen said. “So we went home thinking ‘What are we going to do with all the pumpkins?’ And so that's when we started just making our own pumpkins at home, and processing them and freezing them, and we use them throughout the holiday season.”

Today, the recipe she created from the pumpkin trip is what she follows for one of the Oven Spring Home Kitchen mainstays, a spiced pumpkin bread loaf with dried cherries rehydrated with rum or bourbon. 

She’s preparing for the holidays, her busiest season. One of the popular orders is a fruit bread, Chasen’s take on a fruit cake. Chasen’s recipe includes chunks of five different dried fruits. After baking the loafs, she mists the exterior daily with bourbon for several days, so the bread slowly absorbs the liquor. 

Chasen’s full-time job has been remote since the pandemic started, making it a little easier to work on Oven Spring Home Kitchen, but the labor of love requires her to work late nights and weekends as she develops recipes and tweaks a new ecommerce site: ovenspringkitchen.com.

A rustic sourdough bread will be added as a featured bread. Chasen also plans on having a rotating bread-of-the-month to compliment the permanent options: Old Fashioned Lemon with Lemon Curd Spiced, Dark Stout Gingerbread with Cherries, Colorado-Brewed Beer Bread, Colorado Roasted Chili-Banana bread, and the load that started it all, Pumpkin-Cherry bread.