In the Kitchen with
Tiny Buffalo Baking Co.
Story by Feifei Sun
Photos by Whitney Ott
“Small but Mighty,” the philosophy behind Tiny Buffalo Baking Co., also happens to be a description befitting of founder Audrey Gatliff herself.
Small-framed, soft-spoken and shy, the Atlanta-based Gatliff prefers to let her baked goods speak for themselves. “My college public speaking class was probably the worst nightmare of my life,” she says with a laugh, as we sit down for beers at Cabbagetown favorite Carroll Street Café. “Which is why I like to be in the kitchen. When you’re there, you don’t have to talk!”
The problem for the bespectacled brunette, though, is that her delicious and delicate goods, sold online and at select local markets, are at the center of a lot of talk lately.
Shortly after Tiny Buffalo got a mention in Cooking Light, Zagat named Gatliff to its “30 Under 30” list of rising culinary stars in Atlanta, a city she’s called home for almost five years. The attention is a lot to process for the 29-year-old, who, after testing recipes at dinner parties and tailgates, launched her company online last November with the sole mission of growing a customer base beyond friends and family, never mind any press or fame.
In fact, an appreciation for the simple things in life is a defining characteristic for Gatliff. The reason for the company’s name is two-fold: “Tiny” is a nod to her aversion to our supersize-it culture, while “Buffalo” speaks to nature and an active lifestyle. The online bakery’s motto, “Small but Mighty,” is rooted in Gatliff’s belief that baked goods should be made with only quality ingredients, such as non-hormonal dairy, in sensible portions, taking away the guilt of indulging in them. She’s also a big supporter of shopping local. “There’s just so much more value in that experience,” Gatliff says. “The person behind the register is often the person who made the product, and he probably stayed up until 3 a.m. to finish it. It’s very vulnerable to be on the other side, selling.”
Every Tiny Buffalo treat is baked to order, from the sea salted caramels and petite scones (currently available in pistachio vanilla) to the cookies (available in chai white chocolate and almond butter chocolate chip) and cranberry vanilla granola. They’re smaller than the sweets that sit behind the glass counters of a place like Starbucks, but packed with rich flavors like cardamom, ginger, raw honey, among others, the experience of devouring them is infinitely more indulgent. “Proportions, having a good life, not giving stuff up—those are all things I want my company to represent,” Gatliff says. “I think if you apply a good balance, you can have a little fun. Life shouldn’t always be about counting calories.”
It’s an ideology that makes sense for Gatliff, who graduated from the University of Georgia with degrees in consumer foods and dietetics. Still, Tiny Buffalo started by chance. On a routine visit to Atlanta, where her boyfriend was living at the time, Gatliff spotted a bag of oats at Your Dekalb Farmers Market, where the seeds of Tiny Buffalo were first planted. “I was taken by the big, bulkiness of the bag,” she recalls. “They were so cheap, and I realized I could feed myself for weeks on end with it. So that led to granola, which was the first item I made for Tiny Buffalo.”
All cliches aside, there is little more comforting than homemade apple pie. The satisfaction of baking it from scratch in your own kitchen is priceless.
Gatliff can trace her love for baking back to her childhood in Milledgeville, when she received an Easy Bake Oven for her eighth birthday. Gatliff dumped all the included mixes and frosting into the oven at once, quickly learning the important baking lesson that less is more. Today, Gatliff spends Tuesdays and Wednesdays at a shared kitchen space, baking anywhere from five to 27 dozen scones a day, which are easily her best-selling items. The standout element in her goods is their dough, which Gatliff learned to make on the blog of her flour vendor, King Arthur. She places the scones in the freezer before baking, which allows the butter to firm up and helps the flour absorb into the liquid more easily. Lately, Gatliff has been playing with pie crust and testing out a new maple almond scone. “It’s just old-fashioned fun,” she says of the baking routine. “I’m not doing anything revolutionary. It’s a homestyle process. There’s a moment where you just have to stir—that’s all you have to do—and you can think about whatever you want. It’s calming.”
Which is not to say she doesn’t have dreams about expanding that process in the future. She’s already partnered with Minnesota-based artist Ashley Marie Meyer, whose work she discovered on Etsy, to create a collection of simple, color-blocked aprons. And while she loves the idea of having a brick-and-mortar shop, Gatliff, who juggles a part-time restaurant gig, knows all too well the challenges. “I think it’s always a dream in the back of your head as an entrepreneur,” Gatliff says. “Really, I just want to do my own thing. We all want to do what we like to do, everyday.”
Pumpkin Bread Recipe
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon table salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon fresh nutmeg
1 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
1 1/3 cup canned solid-pack pumpkin (from a 15 ounce can, not pumpkin pie filling, which is sweetened and spiced)
1/3 cup canola oil
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon turbinado sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a loaf pan and line with parchment paper so that it over hangs slightly from the pan on two sides.
Stir or whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spice in small/medium bowl.
In a larger bowl, whisk together pumpkin, oil, eggs, vanilla and both sugars. Add dry ingredients to wet and stir until just combined. Pour batter into loaf pan.
Stir together turbinado sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle on the loaf and top with pumpkin seeds.
Bake until puffed and golden brown and wooden pick or skewer inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes.
Cool in pan on a rack 10 minutes, then transfer loaf from pan to rack and cool to warm or room temperature.
~ Original recipe by Deb Perelman - amended for preference.
~ W ~