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Jenny’s Sweets and Treats has something for everyone, whether you really want just to indulge in a tiny, two-bite sea salt and caramel cupcake or homemade jam for your toast. There are vegan and gluten-free options too, so…really something for everyone.
“Sweet Jenny” is Jennifer Rusnock, who grew up in Lansing but now lives in Munith, MI. She’s been married to her husband Steve for ten years and “has three amazing kids” aged seven, five, and two.
Rusnock has a General Associates degree from Lansing Community College, and spent thirteen years working as a medical claims representative for an insurance company. When her husband's job moved the family to Buffalo, NY, Rusnock quit her job and became a stay-at-home mom. “That,” she says, “is when I developed a love for baking.”
“While being a stay-at-home mom was very rewarding, I needed a hobby for down periods in a new place with no family and friends. I started baking all different sorts of treats and loved the idea of creating everything from scratch. I also enjoyed making my kids’ birthday cakes. I would give my neighbors my baked goods and they just loved them. This is when I first started talking about starting my own business, although at the time, it just wasn't a possibility.”
When the family moved back to Michigan, Rusnock started canning her own jams and jellies. “I never knew this could be so rewarding. When family and friends came over and tried the jams, cookies or other baked goods, they said ‘you could sell these.’ This is when I decided to take on the challenge and start my own bakery business. I knew that opening a storefront was not a possibility at the time so I thought starting at a farmers’ market would be a good place to give this business a try.”
When she first started selling at the East Lansing Farmers Market last year, a lot of people asked about gluten-free and vegan products. “I had some experience with gluten-free baking prior to that year because my daughter was gluten-free and dairy-free for a short period of time. I was determined to make gluten-free baked goods that tasted good, too. I now offer gluten-free and vegan items each week at my market.”
To get ready for a Sunday at the EL Farmers Market, Rusnock starts on Monday. She decides what items will be for sale, and creates the labels. “I start my decorated sugar cookies on Monday. The cookies can take up to a whole week to bake and decorate because the icing has to dry for 12 hours after each color is added. I make any additional jams and jellies that will be needed for the next week. I then make my cookie doughs earlier in the week so I can just bake them on Saturday. I then bake all my other goodies on Friday and Saturday so they are nice and fresh for the market.”
The bakery is a family affair. Rusnock explains that “my whole family helps me with my business. My mom makes all my labels and my dad comes to the market with me each Sunday and helps me run the business. I could not run this business without their help.”
What she loves most about her business is making people happy when they are looking for specialty items like gluten-free or vegan baked goods. “Sometimes it is hard to find baked goods that are gluten-free and vegan, so I’m glad that I can accommodate those people. I also love that I can bring my kids to work with me.” The only drawback is that the business “takes away a lot of time with the family.”
Sweet Jenny’s won’t be at the Market this Sunday, August 9th, due to a family celebration. They’ll be back on the 16th, and you’ll be able to select from the usual variety of treats, including decorated sugar cookies, oatmeal raisin cookies, chocolate chip cookies, snickerdoodle cookies and a gluten-free monster cookie. There are also four different kinds of muffins: two “regular,” one gluten-free, and one vegan, and four flavors of cupcakes, including gluten-free and vegan options, homemade jams and jellies, and new items, including homemade pop tarts and French macarons.
Rusnock shared with our readers her recipe for Vegan Funfetti Cupcake, adding that “I am often asked what I use to substitute for eggs. I usually use white vinegar to replace the eggs in a vegan recipe.”
In a large bowl, combine organic pastry flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, add white vinegar to coconut milk and let sit for 10 minutes.
In the bowl of a standing mixer combine Earth Balance buttery sticks and sugar. Mix well until combined. With the mixer running on low, add some of the flour mixture and then the milk mixture until all is combined. Mix only until mixture is combined. Stir in the rainbow sprinkles.
Preheat oven to 350. Fill cupcake liners to 3/4 full. Bake for 20 minutes or until done.
For the frosting, mix Earth Balance buttery sticks, shortening and vanilla extract until combined. Add powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, until combined. Add milk and mix until smooth. Top cooled cupcakes with frosting and additional sprinkles.
The East Lansing Farmers’ Market is open Sundays from 10 am to 2 pm in Valley Court, rain or shine. You can read about other vendors in our weekly Market Monitor.
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