Full-fledged perseverance has led Hilary Browning to her career as a baker, but truthfully, most of the credit for her success belongs to no one other than Hilary, herself. She is the most driven, inspiring person I have yet to meet, and it has been an honor to hear and write about her story. She is the owner and mastermind behind Thistle Confections, which supplies the baked goods for Ghostlight Coffee, but her newest addition to this one of a kind business is her booth at the Second Street Market, which will open February 11! She has finally made this “baking dream a reality,” as she puts it, and I was along to get the quite delicious dish on the details.
When looking up the term “self-starter” in the dictionary, one should find the name “Hilary Browning” listed. Just sitting down for this brief interview, I could sense her drive and determination, which no doubt has brought her this far in her baking career. The platform of her baking knowledge originated from her mother and grandmother, who were recent Italian immigrants. They supplied her with the basics, but from this jumping off point, Hilary is completely self-taught. She likes to deviate from traditional recipes, making them her own. As she explained to me, she finds “pride in the creative aspect of flavor.” And boy, oh boy! The Better Breakfast cookie I tried sure did pack a punch of flavor!
Hilary describes the line of events that led her to the present as a “natural progression,” all starting with her food blog in 2006, while she was studying at Ohio State for graduate school. This was her outlet for stress, a way to test recipes, and a chance to keep in contact with friends, as well as acquire new friendships. As Hilary explains,
“business grew from that.” After her transfer to and graduation from the University of Dayton, her husband was stationed at a military base, and she decided the timing was perfect to give her baking idea a try. Even her partnership with Ghostlight Coffee can be seen as part of this natural series of events, as her relationship with Shane as a neighbor and friend eventually evolved into this partnership. A partnership that has brought forth delicious, unique recipes and support for local producers, but not much sleep as she points out: “it’s a choice. You make choices, and you make sacrifices for those choices.” But she stands firmly behind her decisions, especially her commitments to quality and local producers, her two biggest concentrations when it comes to running Thistle Confections.
“My goal is not profit.” This was one of the first things Hilary shared with me. Quality, as aforementioned, is one of her two greatest concerns when it comes to her creations. She has personally met and fed the chickens from the two farms from where she gets her organic eggs. “It’s a lot of work,” but it’s worth it for quality. Every baked good is made from whole grains, providing a healthy aspect. Hilary also doesn’t sell anything she has not tasted or include any ingredient from a box. Everything is made from scratch, using only organic ingredients from local producers who have gone through Hilary’s inspection. Another amazing aspect of Thistle Confections is that all goods are baked fresh daily. She specializes in nostalgic and savory pastries; reinventing old recipes are her specialty. Two such nostalgic baked goods are her “Whoopy Pie,” which actually came from Pennsylvania in the 19th century, and her cinnamon rolls, which are prepared using a technique from when the recipe was first brought to America! But she also has a lot of pride in writing her own recipes (which are 100% original or tweaked slightly and tested), which are available for purchase on her blog.
By reaching for quality, Hilary cares for local producers, as well. It’s quite a bit of work to research and taste everything, but by marrying these two principles she supplies her customers with delicious products, while also providing the economy with a little pick-me-up. As she puts it, “the heart of her business is local producers.” The ingredients can be traced directly back to local whole salers, making the goods more health-conscious and you more responsible for eating such deliciousness!
So now, it’s your turn! Help support the local economy and a worthy business owner by grabbing a delicious baked good from Thistle Confections! Ghostlight Coffee will still be housing Hilary’s creations, but make sure to check out the new booth at Second Street Market when it opens February 11! Doesn’t a salted caramel brownie sound scrumptious? Or a cinnamon roll with really soft filling? What about a piece of olive oil cake filled with rosemary and orange accents? Yum!
Thistle Confections 2nd Street Market 600 East 2nd Street Dayton, OH 45402 (937) 228-2088
Thistle Confections Blog
Ghostlight Coffee 1201 Wayne Avenue Dayton, OH 45410 (937) 985-2633
All pictures are credited to Nicole Hodac of hodacphotography.com