The Flour House Bakery in Princeton is run by Terri and Sallee Zearing. The mother/daughter duo put their heads together and opened the unique, cozy shop on North Main Street in November 2013.
Mother Terri has always had a knack for baking. Growing up in a large family, her mother never turned away her help in the kitchen. She’d assist with putting food on the table to feed all 11 members of her family.
Terri started baking in the second grade. She began with easier recipes like chocolate chip cookies or loaf cakes. And by the time she was in fifth grade, she was baking yeast breads and cinnamon rolls for family gatherings at the holidays.
“I just always loved to bake,” she said.
Eventually she married and had five children of her own. She was fortunate to be able to stay home and raise them all until they went off to school.
Once an empty nester, Terri decided to try a career for herself. She got involved in AmeriCorps, which led her to do some real thinking about her future and what she wanted to do in life before it became too late. This soul searching steered her toward the idea of opening her own bakery, which she had been considering already.
Terri attempted to go into business with a close friend to help revive Princeton’s former coffee shop at the time. But those plans fell through. And probably for good reason. The building they were looking to purchase ended up burning to the ground not long after they tried buying it.
Determined to keep her dream alive, Terri started talking with Sallee about her bakery idea.
Sallee was still in college at the time, but expressed immediate interest in going into business. Having grown up sharing her mother’s love of baking, Sallee was no stranger to the family recipes and workings of the kitchen.
She said things fell into place at the right moment. While working on a degree in studio painting, she was unsure where it would take her after graduation. But once the bakery idea came about, she stopped worrying about her future.
“I knew this was what I was going to do,” she said.
Also around this time, Terri’s husband, Lou, was winding down his hardware business, which was spread between two storefronts along Princeton’s Main Street. He offered to give one of the storefronts to his wife and daughter to allow them to bring the dream to life.
Together, Sallee and Terri have transformed that space into a trendy spot for customers to relax and indulge in fresh baked goods and cups of coffee.
“We get a lot of great feedback about our space being so warm and welcoming and bright,” Sallee said.
The two share a close mother/daughter bond outside of the shop. But during bakery hours, they see each other as business partners. Terri and Sallee each posses their own strengths in keeping up with daily tasks, which require a lot of teamwork and strong collaboration.
Sallee said the mother/daughter operation works for them, because they’ve spent so much time together.
“There’s not a lot of figuring out. I know what she’s going to think and she knows what I’m going to think. At the end of the day, we are still mother and daughter and we can have our moments, but for the most part, I feel we’re a decent team,” she said.
Terri said her daughter is good at drawing the line where the two are partners during the day and mother and daughter afterward. She said it was challenging figuring out those boundaries in the beginning, but today the two know where they stand no matter what time of day it is.
“In the long run, I think we will look back and see this as a great thing that happened in our lives,” she said.
If there’s one thing the two strongly agree about, it’s that the best part of their endeavor has been the response from the community.
“I feel like we have a great core of regular customers who are so sweet to us,” Sallee said.
Terri gets emotional when thinking about the support they’ve received in the four years since they’ve open their doors.
“It’s truly the people we’ve gotten to know and get to see everyday,” she said. “We’ve met so many good friends and have become a part of so many people’s lives.”
The two are also very appreciative of the great employees who’ve helped them keep the shop going.
“If we didn’t have the great people behind the counter representing us, it would be much harder,” Sallee said. “We are so thankful that we have such great employees. There’s just a lot of work to be done and we couldn’t do it ourselves.”
The Flour House Bakery is located at 950 N. Main St. Hours of operation are 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday though Monday. The bakery is closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays. To keep up with its changing menu throughout the week, follow the Flour House Bakery Facebook page.
6 Week Bran Muffins
Oven temp: 400 degrees
Serving size: About 40 regular size muffins
Bake time: 15-20 minutes
4 eggs, beaten
1 quart buttermilk
1 cup vegetable oil
15 ounces bran cereal (1/2 fiber, 1/2 bran = 7 cups)
5 cups flour
3 cups sugar
5 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoons salt
6 cups of blueberries/cranberries fresh or frozen
1/2 cup butter
1 cup flour
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup oats
* Mix ingredients in order in a large bowl.
* Refrigerate overnight.
* Grease muffin tins 3/4 full and top with topping.
* Bake in 400 degrees oven for 15-20 minutes.
Mix the dry ingredients and cut in the butter with hands.
SMASH'M Sugar Cookies
Oven temp: 375 degrees
Serving: 4 dozen
Bake time: 8-12 minutes
1 cup butter
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
1 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
5 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon salt
* Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
* Cream the butter, vegetable oil and both sugars.
* Add vanilla and eggs.
* Sift the flour, baking soda, cream of tarter and salt together and add to the creamed mixture.
* Roll tablespoon-sized balls of dough. Smash'm with cookie press or bottom of tumbler dipped in sugar.
* Bake for 8-12 minutes.
* Transfer to wire rack.
Serving size: 36 2-inch bars
1 1/2 pounds bittersweet chocolate, chopped
6 ounces mini marshmallows
1 cup dry roasted unsalted peanuts, coarsely chopped
1/4 pound mini chocolate-covered graham crackers (or about 13 cookies) cut into bite-size pieces
• Line a 15x11x1-inch pan with non-stick aluminum foil, or coat with non-stick spray.
• Gently melt chocolate in a large bowl set over saucepan of gently simmering water; stir chocolate until smooth. Remove bowl from water and let cool slightly for about three minutes.
• Stir the marshmallows, peanuts and graham crackers into the melted chocolate and spread evenly into the pan.
• Place the pan in the fridge for about one to two hours or until the bark is completely cooled.
• Invert bark onto a large cutting surface. Peel off the foil and cut into 36 2-inch bars.
• Store in an air-tight container at room temperature for up to two weeks.
Peanut Butter Bon Bons
Bake time: Refrigerate about one hour.
3 cups Rice Krispies
2 cups peanut butter
3 3/4 powdered sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
Scant 1/2 slab parafin wax
* Mix krispies, peanut butter, powdered sugar and butter together with paddle in mixer. Do not over mix in order to not crush the krispies.
* Form into balls about the size of a large marble.
* For the dipping chocolate, shave the paraffin wax and melt the chips in a pan over steaming water. When smooth, leave the chocolate over the hot water to keep it thin as you dip the peanut butter balls. Top with sprinkles immediately after dipping so they will stick. Place the decorated balls on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper and place in the refrigerator for at least an hour to firm up.