CLEARFIELD – Christy Albertson, owner of The Sweet Art Bakery in downtown Clearfield, gives new meaning to the adage of “Home Sweet Home.”
Albertson possessed a “crafty, creative” side before her full-service bakery opened its doors earlier this month. However, she never thought to add her decorative touch to any sweet creation until her brother’s wedding a few years ago.
“I had never made a (specialty) cake but thought I would try,” she said. Although her first was a simple design, the novel baker spent two days applying the cake’s frosting.
She added, “I had to re-do and re-do until it was perfect. It was all self-taught and instinct. Now, I can do it in four hours.”
Because she invested in some basic kitchen creative, Albertson wanted her children to have “cool cakes” for their birthdays. Her creations gained popularity among friends and became inspiration for her current bakery.
She and husband, Kevin worked as chemists outside of Philadelphia; both felt unfilled by their careers. She, personally, “always wanted to do something different.”
“I had a cake featured in a wedding magazine and thought maybe Clearfield would like it,” Albertson said. A native of Morrisdale, she was torn between two prospective locations – Clearfield and Philipsburg.
By pure happenstance, she stumbled across an e-mail address for Main Street Manager Kellie Truman and contacted her. From the very beginning, she said Truman was receptive and supportive to the idea of a bakery.
While on a stroll through the downtown area, Albertson came to a vacant storefront on East Market Street. She looked into its “big windows” and immediately realized it was the ideal location.
Albertson opened The Sweet Art Bakery on Oct. 4 and received an overwhelming welcome from her hometown community. During her first week of business, she couldn’t keep her baked goods on the shelves.
“It was craziness. I don’t know how else to explain it. I wasn’t sure how much to bake. I expected five or six to stumble in while passing by, but I was selling out every hour,” she said.
According to her, people frequent her shop the most for scones, turnovers and the artisan-style breads. She said her customers “taste the difference” in her usual treats, which are freshly baked daily.
While the roasted garlic and caramelized onion breads come highly recommended, Albertson hopes customers taste test her more unique treats, such as the truffle bars. But with experiments under way in the kitchen, her display case will remain a mystery for even the regulars.
“I have a creative bug in the kitchen. If I don’t have a cake to bake, I have to toss around ingredients. I’m always blending flavors to keep it interesting. It keeps them coming back, changing it up every few hours,” she said.
Albertson doesn’t only impress the sweet tooth with her daily creations, but also with her wedding and custom cakes. Before any ingredients blend together, she researches and sketches her more elaborate requests.
She plans most for weeks and pays especially close attention to the small details. Oftentimes, she devotes an upwards of 20 – 30 hours for her customized cake designs.
“For me, it’s not a patience thing; it’s an obsession thing. I don’t have a choice. I will obsess over it and can’t stop until it’s perfect,” she said. In fact, she prefers the more challenging requests, and as of yet, none have “stumped” her.
Albertson admitted she once found any customized car design to pose difficulites. She said the cake wants to crumble, when the smooth curves are applied to its shape. One late night, she discovered a way around it; her trick is “top secret,” however.
Not long after the bakery opened, she said a very basic sheet cake became the popular request. She accepted orders at first but realized the simplicity wasn’t for her.
“I couldn’t do it. I want the challenges. I can look at a picture and form plans for a cake,” she said. Albertson limits herself to two or three of the more elaborate cakes per week.
“I could probably do more than that, but at the same time, I know me. I have to give myself enough time. I have to be able to obsess over the little details of each.”
Albertson also serves coffee from The Angry Bean at her bakery. In return, she has accented her partner’s display case with an assortment of baked goods. She said the two businesses decided to work together rather than compete.
The Sweet Art Bakery is located at 243 East Market St., Clearfield, PA 16830 and can be reached by phone at 814-765-6900. The bakery is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Click here to visit the bakery’s Web site.