Madison mom loves baking cookies
Christmas is the premier busy baking season for Madison’s Anna Smithhart, who has been running a baking operation out of her home for about two years now.
Other peak times of the year for her include Easter, Halloween and Valentine’s Day. Factor in those dates, and Smithhart is all booked up for the rest of the year.
Smithhart, a Meridian native, said she learned baking from her maternal grandmother, Martha Singletary.
“If I have some free time and the kids aren’t here, I am baking,” Smithhart said.
Her business is baking cookies, but in her free time, she said she loves whipping up macarons — “because they are really hard” — and other “light and airy French-style pastries, usually with a fruit filling.
Each season and each year brings on a new design of cookies. This year Smithhart is making peg people dressed as Santa Klaus or elves and snowmen.
She comes up with designs herself and has had this set locked in since mid-October. She said she doesn’t like traditional Christmas colors, so fine-tuning her color palate is a fun way to tap into her artistic side each year. Currently, she plans to color them in rich coral and mint-toned icing.
“I like how it combines baking and art,” Smithhart said.
Baking is a meticulous process. Smithhart said the dough needs to be cold, so the cookies maintain their shape. She then cuts them out using one of her more than 200 cookie cutters.
Most recently, she acquired a custom unicorn for her daughter’s birthday party. While she can do several batches at a time, she said a dozen cookies probably takes her three days from start to finish.
Smithhart is a self-professed “neat freak” but said she likes when she can get her daughters, Adeline, 4, and Dolly, 5, involved in baking cookies for Santa.
“I can get the kids involved for that,” Smithhart said. “I think most people would say chocolate chip, but I would probably go with gingerbread or sugar cookies, but you can really do slice and bake if you want.”
Smithhart said if you are going to make cookies yourself, a little preparation time is in order before you get the kids involved.
“The number one thing is preparation because kids are messy. I like to have everything already measured out so they can just dump it in,” she said. “They also really like cutting the cookies out. It is like playing with Play-doh.”
A cornerstone of her business has been cookies for events, specifically children’s birthday parties.
Jessica Spain was a first-time customer earlier this month for her son’s first birthday. Spain said she found Smithhart through a local mom’s group on social media.
“So many people recommended Anna,” Spain said. “I love her work. She is creative, and her designs are very detailed.”
Spain said other bakers she has used ask for some reference photos or designs but complimented Smithhart on her original designs.
“She doesn’t even expect inspiration pictures. She said just send me your theme and maybe the invitation,” Spain said. “The cookies were better than I anticipated and exactly what I imagined.”
Spain said that in addition to being aesthetically pleasing, the cookies were delicious as well.
“I had to tell my husband to stop eating them, and he went and stashed six before the party,” Spain said.
Spain said that the ordering process probably took her two minutes and that picking her order up at Smithhart’s house was a breeze. She said she even included a personalized note and a sample of the Christmas cookies she was working on.
“I definitely will be ordering cookies from her again,” Spain said.
Smithhart and her husband, Will, moved to Madison in the summer of 2019. She said he is a neonatologist with The Newborn Associates in Flowood. He grew up in Madison and is a Madison Central graduate.
Smithhart said they met in medical school at the University of Mississippi Medical Center School of Medicine.
“My best friend from high school married his best friend from high school,” Smithhart said.
After medical school, they lived in Richmond, Virginia, and Dallas as Will completed his residency and fellowship.
Smitthart said she worked as a pediatric occupational therapist during that time and has been out of that for about three years though some habits have stuck. She said she routinely calls her clients patients in conversation.
Though she is booked up for the rest of the year, Smithhart’s latest creations and latest ordering information can be found on her Instagram @virginiarosebaking or her website https://virginiarosebaking.com