The Wyoming-based bakery, launched this March by Wyoming resident Erika Hecht, presents a full lineup of classics including rugelach, mandelbrot, challah, and hamentaschen, cherished family recipes that Hecht has recreated with her own unique flavor.
Her rugelach is a rich, buttery pastry, wrapped around gourmet fillings of cinnamon/raisin, raspberry/chip, apricot/almond, and chocolate. For her mandelbrot, which is similar to biscotti, Hecht uses her husband’s grandmother’s recipe, given to her when they got married. In most Jewish households, mandelbrot is a must-have. “If someone is recovering from an illness, or if family is in town, it’s something we always have on hand to share,” Hecht says. “It’s a light, crunchy cookie you’d dip in coffee. Everything I make is best served with coffee.”
When she’s selling pastries at the Farmers Market, she always has challah, a braided egg bread, which she bakes with local honey instead of refined sugar. While the challah is popular, customers also love her babka, a sweet, braided bread filled with cinnamon or chocolate that Hecht says is the most time-consuming dessert to prepare. “The time-consuming desserts seem to be the most popular because people don’t want to make them at home,” she says. “These are the desserts Grandma would make, and the recipes have been passed down for generations.”
After graduating from college, Hecht started baking to relieve stress. Not long into her career as a social worker, interacting daily with at-risk teenagers surrounded by violence, she found herself seeking reprieve in her kitchen each evening. As her baking skills developed—and her passion for the process grew—she decided to take the leap. In 2003, she landed a job at a French pastry shop in Columbus. “I’ve been baking ever since,” she says. “I wanted to do what I do best, and that’s what I’m doing.”
After amassing nearly 20 years of experience learning the craft, primarily from French masters, Hecht was ready to embark on her own venture. She opened Sweet Butter Bakery during the pandemic, relying on social media and word of mouth to build her customer base.
Operating from a nearby commercial kitchen, Hecht sells pastries weekly at the Reading Farmers Market, May through September. Half Day Café offers an expanding inventory at the counter, including rugelach, babka, and thumbprint cookies, and customers can place orders online at sweetbuttercincy.com. Delivery in Wyoming is free.
This fall, you’ll also find Hecht at the JCC Fall Market, taking place Aug. 29 at the Mayerson JCC in Amberley Village, and the ish Festival, an event at Washington Park in September that celebrates Jewish and Israeli arts and culture.
Sweet Butter Bakery has been a family affair, with Hecht’s husband Sam, who grew up in Wyoming, and her extended family supporting day-to-day operations and making deliveries. She doesn’t currently have plans to open a brick-and-mortar space—her focus is perfecting her product and establishing repeat customers among her Wyoming neighbors and around the greater Cincinnati region.
“I don’t make anything that’s decorative, so it has to taste good,” Hecht says. “You’re only as good as your ingredients. People like to dress stuff up, but I don’t do any assembly or decorating. Except for sprinkles. I love sprinkles.”