Sweets for the seasons
Erin Van Kirk was not expecting any orders last Christmas. She had shut down The Prickly Poppy Bakery, a custom bakery she ran out of her house, to focus on her young children. But then the Advocate included her in a list of neighbor-made gifts for the holidays, not realizing the bakery had shuttered.
“People started calling out of the blue,” she says, “and asking, ‘Are you doing cookie kits again?’ ”
Cookie kits were a signature product of Prickly Poppy, providing families all they need to decorate holiday sweets with less mess: icing, sprinkles and a dozen crumbly sugar cookies. She sold a few last year, and with support from her new business partner and fellow Lake Highlands mom, Adrienne Ford, Van Kirk decided to get back into business this year.
Van Kirk has a long history in the baking world, having spent time in kitchens like Bolsa and Bread Winner Café. But in 2013, she struck out on her own, building her name on custom creations like wedding cakes with Prickly Poppy. The cookie kits were almost an accident, something she made to appease her friends who wanted her cookies during the holidays when she didn’t have time to do her own decorations.
“They could take them home and decorate themselves, because I was too busy with other orders,” Van Kirk says.
In its new iteration, Prickly Poppy will exclusively focus on holiday creations; with three young daughters, Van Kirk no longer has time for custom orders. She relaunched at Halloween with bat and black cat cookie kits. Thanksgiving brought cinnamon and pumpkin spice options, look for macarons at Easter, while Christmas is always about sugar cookies.
“Cookies have always been a Christmas tradition in my family, especially for my great-grandmother, who made the best sugar cookies,” she says.
While cookie kits are made for families to enjoy together, Van Kirk will also sell a variety of gourmet fudge “as a giftable item,” she says. Expect flavors like peppermint, Texas whiskey pecan and gingerbread, all made in the Van Kirk’s Lake Highlands kitchen, likely with her young daughters huddled together on a stool “helping” mom bake.
“I have dreams of a mother-daughter bakery one day,” she says, “but I’m sure I’ll have lost my ‘cool factor’ by the time they are old enough.”
Did you know: The bakery is named after the Texas wildflower, paying homage to the local ingredients featured in the desserts.
The Prickly Poppy Bakery
Price range: $30 for a kit that
includes a dozen cookies,
icing, sprinkles and a quick tutorial.