Tigard company offers bakers chance to mix things up

by: SUBMITTED PHOTOS - Taya Geiger, left, and Leah Tutin recently kicked off a new company Scratch and Grain which prepares ready-to-go cookie kits. Geiger said the kits are homemade baking made way simple.They say necessity is the mother of invention, but these two mothers are trying to make their invention a necessity.

Leah Tutin and Taya Geiger are moms and entrepreneurs. They call themselves “mompreneurs.”

Earlier this year, the duo, who have been friends and neighbors for years, formed the Scratch and Grain Baking Co. — a cookie company, with a twist.

Instead of selling pre-made cookies in stores or at farmer’s markets, the pair offer something a bit more how-to: Kits to bake cookies yourself.

“Homemade cookies are the best thing on Earth,” Geiger said. “They’re better than any cookie you could buy anywhere else, and that’s what this is. It’s just homemade baking made way simple.”

The kits come with pre-measured, all natural ingredients and simple instructions. All a baker needs to add is an egg and butter to make any of the company’s four cookies: Chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, peanut butter and chocolate truffle.

Try it yourself

What: Scratch and Grain Baking Co.

Where: Available in stores across Oregon. Check out for store locations.

How much: $6.99 for a box that makes 9-12 cookies.

Baking is an event

The business venture began by accident, Tutin said.

Her 6-year-old daughter had asked to make cookies, and Tutin had happily agreed. But the Tutins aren’t big bakers, so they made a trip to the store to buy organic ingredients, Tutin said.

She ended up spending $40 on ingredients, many of which she wouldn’t need again.

“We bought a bag of flour, chocolate chips and all these things that you will never use again, and then they’ll go bad,” she said.

And teaching her elementary-schooler to cook caused a huge mess in the kitchen and took too much time, she said.

Sharing the tale with Geiger, the two friends came up with the idea of simple cookie kits that would help speed up the process.

Each kit comes with ingredients in separate color-coded bags.

“Part of good baking is the process and the order,” Geiger said. “A bag of mix doesn’t allow for that.”

Tutin agreed.

“The thing we know from making cookies is that when you add the ingredients in the right order and make a small batch, it tastes better,” Tutin said. “Most people don’t bake for themselves. They are baking for someone — whether it’s for their kids or for an event. Baking is an event activity, and this allows more people to get in on it.”

And where cookie recipies often make dozens of cookies — often more than can be eaten in a single sitting — the cookie kits generate a single dozen.

“They fit on one cookie sheet,” Geiger said. “You don’t have to have your oven on for three hours or end up with 36 cookies.”

The mothers tried their cookies out on family and friends for about five months as they perfected the recipes, Geiger said.

The cookie kits come in a variety of flavors. Geiger says the company will soon expand to brownies, scones and possibly even dog biscuits.

No signs of slowing

Since the company launched in April, cookie kits are now available in 38 locations across Oregon, Washington and Alaska. Geiger said they have no plans to slow down production.

The kits will soon be available at Whole Foods, Albertsons and Made in Oregon stores.

“The response has been insane,” Geiger said.

The pair now makes about 6,000 kits a month — the equivalent of 36,000 cookies — and in July moved into a commercial kitchen off Southwest Hall Boulevard near Tigard High School.

Geiger said the simplicity is part of what has made their products so popular.

“We make these cookie kits so that a 4-year-old can be part of the baking experience,” Geiger said.

Geiger plans to introduce sugar cookie and snickerdoodle kits this year, and eventually expand to brownies and scones.

“We want to cover the full range of baking products,” Geiger said.

There’s even a chance the company could release a kit to make your own dog treats.

“It’s the No. 1 request that I get,” Geiger said. “Dog lovers keep asking for it.”

Baking organically

At about $7 for a kit, Tutin admitted that Scratch and Grain’s cookies are more expensive than the competition. But that’s partly by design, she said.

“Since it’s all organic and local and high end, our product costs are more than most cookies,” she said. “But the cookies taste better because of those ingredients.”

The idea, Geiger said, is to make organic baking more affordable for people, but with all natural ingredients, it’s hard to keep costs down.

“You will probably never see these in Safeway,” she said. “I don’t know if it’s a fit for every store, but it certainly is a great fit for any organic or natural stores.”

Making organic and gluten-free products is important, Geiger said, but they need to be done in a way that is affordable for everyday consumers.

“I’m a super health-conscious person,” she said. “If I could afford it, I would buy all organic. This allows you to afford fully organic cookies.”

Tutin said she has been surprised by the demand.

“We had planned on it being an online business,” she said, but the company has had no trouble getting its products into stores across the region.

“We had no idea. It wasn’t something that even occurred to us that stores would be interested in,” she said.

Scratch and Grain cookie kits are currently available at New Seasons Markets, Market of Choice, Haggen Food and Pharmacy and a host of small independent grocers around the Portland area.

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