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Community Highlights: Meet Thirza Wilson of Zoet+Sweet Dutch Bakery

Today we’d like to introduce you to Thirza Wilson.

Hi Thirza, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
I am originally from the Netherlands, I grew up in Amsterdam and moved to New York in 1999. In NY, I worked for the Netherlands Board of Tourism which was a great way of staying connected with my home country.

But when I moved to Scottsdale a few years ago, I felt a little further away from the Netherlands and realized how much I missed Dutch baked goods. So, I started baking to satisfy my own cravings and soon my friends encouraged me to start a bakery. I started Zoet+Sweet Dutch Bakery on May 1 of this year. Baking has always been a love and passion of mine.

My grandfather was a pastry chef in Utrecht and as a child growing up, I remember sitting in his kitchen waiting for things to come out of the oven. The smells captured my full attention. Not just because my mouth was watering as I waited to taste the pie or pastry he was baking but more so because I had watched him mix the ingredients, prepare the dough, and the intricate items that went into the oven.

So, I decided now was a great time to share some of my grandfather’s recipes in the valley of the sun!

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
So far it has been a pretty smooth road, at least nothing that has kept me up at night. I probably experience some of the same uncertainties and insecurities that others do when starting a small business.

Sometimes I wonder about things like; how many orders I will get, how should I respond to special customer requests, and why won’t Facebook post my ad! All of these little things cause some anxiety but overall, it has been great to just jump right in and take things one at a time. I try not to rush, stick to my plan, be patient and not take shortcuts.

One thing that is somewhat of a challenge is making people aware of the differences between a traditional American apple pie and a classic Dutch apple pie. There are many differences including the crust, the filling, and the overall look.

For example, the classic Dutch apple tart is a deep dish (almost 3 inches), the filling has large apple chunks with cinnamon and raisins and the crust is more cookie dough-like with a thin layer of almond paste making it extra delicious.

That is why I call it a tart and not a pie!

Appreciate you sharing that. What should we know about Zoet+Sweet Dutch Bakery?
I think I am the only “Dutch Bakery’ in the Phoenix area, so this sets me apart.

I specialize in several Dutch baked goods, in addition to the Dutch Apple Tart, like a Filled Speculaas, it’s a spiced tart with a rich almond paste filling, and a Boterkoek, a rich, luscious, buttery baked good that is sometimes called a “cake”, but the consistency is more like a soft cookie with a crispy edge.

Most people will be familiar with the Stroopwafel cookies, 2 thin waffles covering a creamy salted caramel middle. I think it is also important to let everyone know, that I use 100% natural ingredients and no additives. Basically the way my grandfather baked many years ago.

As far as the name, in Dutch, Zoet means Sweet. This does NOT mean it’s double the sugar but I do hope you like it TWICE as much.

What does success mean to you?
I define success for my bakery by seeing the happy comments from my customers after they have eaten my baked goods.

Hearing how much they enjoyed a true Dutch apple tart or other goodies is very rewarding and makes me want to bake more! I also feel I am achieving success by keeping a nice balance between adhering to the original recipes, using natural ingredients, and maintaining high quality.

I think this combination puts smiles on my customer’s faces when they enjoy their first bite.

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