muddy's journal

muddy's guiding principles: responsible stewardship of god's gifts

This post was written by the wonderful wizard of awesome Emily W., manager of our East Memphis shop.

When you apply for a job at Muddy’s, you quickly learn that it’s no ordinary place. I suppose I knew Muddy’s was something special the first time I ever ate here as a customer (that Cookies N Cream cupcake CHANGED MY WORLD), but I didn’t realize HOW special until I applied for my first position here almost three years ago.

Early on in the hiring process, you learn that Muddy’s is about a heck of a lot more than cake. Before you even interview, you get to read about our mission and our guiding principles.

Here’s our mission, if you aren’t already familiar with it:

“We strive to make Memphis a happier place by creating outstanding experiences and delicious food, being kind to everyone we meet, and doing the right thing.”

It’s a pretty ambitious mission, but I think my fellow gnomies do a great job of spreading the joy and making Memphians happy on a daily basis.

And what is REALLY cool (as if you needed anything cooler than an epic mission of city-wide happiness) is the set of principles we’ve established in order to make that lofty goal possible. We call them our Guiding Principles, and we reference them regularly to help us stay on track towards our mission.

Here they are:

  • responsible stewardship of God's gifts
  • outstanding service to others
  • gratitude
  • real, delicious food
  • healthy finance
  • integrity at every level
  • constant learning & improvement
  • meaningful, fulfilling work

I was blown away the first time I read that these were the principles that a business was built on — not just things that were valued or that were nice to think about but were ignored as soon as things got tough. Muddy’s was (and continues to be) built on these ideals. We’re going to be digging into each of these principles in a series of posts over the next few months, but I have been tasked with discussing the first principle: responsible stewardship.

As impressed as I was the first time I read the Guiding Principles, I remember thinking that listing Responsible Stewardship and Healthy Finance was kind of redundant. Aren’t those the same thing? SPOILER ALERT: not necessarily.

Of course the two go hand in hand, but I’ve learned that responsible stewardship is about far more than finance. At Muddy’s we strive to be responsible stewards of all the wonderful gifts we’ve been given.

I can think of a lot of examples of my fellow gnomies being responsible stewards: a server taking care with a tray of cupcakes, so as not to damage or waste them; a baker with a sharp eye identifying an issue with equipment and fixing it before the damage worsens; a manager investing in a staff member by sending them to workshops or seminars; a barista going the extra mile to cheer a guest who’s having a bad day. Any time we choose to take care of someone or something rather than take that person on thing for granted, we are being responsible stewards.

But in my mind, what sets Muddy’s apart in terms of responsible stewardship is how we steward the gift of people — employees and customers alike. We have a culture of gratitude (also a Guiding Principle!), and we invest in each other inside and outside the workplace. For instance, we recently brought the gurus of Zingerman's Coffee Company in Ann Arbor to our coffee bar at our Midtown location so many of our gnomies (including yours truly) could deepen our knowledge of the art of espresso.

We also aim to go above and beyond for our customers — always with the goal of serving each guest with genuine kindness, and never taking them for granted. We do it because it’s the right thing, and because it’s the responsible thing, and because it helps us make Memphis a happier place.

Posted by Janine Smith at Friday, April 29, 2016 | 0 comments

what mama really wants for mother's day...

You know what? Your mother is a fabulous woman. She's given you the best, and next Sunday, May 8, it's your turn to give her the best. The best baked goods in all of Memphis, that is!

That just so happens to be what we specialize in here at Muddy's Bake Shop, and we've hand-selected a few special items for that special lady in your life. Of course, you know your mama better than we do, and if you know Pucker Up Cake or Sprankle Sugar Cookies are her favorite, we recommend you check out our full online preorder menu HERE. But if you're stumped for ideas, here is just a peak at what the mothers of the gnomies here at Muddy's Bake Shop have to look forward to next Sunday!

Rosette Cake... Available in an assortment of flavors, our Rosette Cakes debuted on a Mother's Day several years ago, and they've been a Mother's Day tradition for many ever since. Your favorite Muddy's cake is covered in swirly twirly rosettes of icing for a very special centerpiece you'll almost feel bad for cutting into. But just almost. Order yours HERE.

Strawberry Thumbprint Cookies... Yet another favorite with mothers, and pretty much everyone who tries them! Our Strawberry Thumbprint Cookies begin with our intensely buttery butter cookie dough, which is rolled in granulated sugar for a light crunch and a note of caramelization before finally being topped with a healthy dollop of strawberry preserves. Order them HERE.

Rosette Cookies... Don't miss this annual Mother's Day exclusive! Muddy's famous cut-out butter cookies are topped with rosettes of three flavors of our famous scratch-made icing: fluffy cream cheese, tart lemon buttercream, and the most berrylicious strawberry buttercream ever! Please call to place your order (see numbers below).

Rhubarb Lemon Bundt... OHHHHH MAMA! Or at least that's what I've said every time I've tasted this one for myself. Our Rhubarb Lemon Bundt is a decadently moist buttermilk bundt with a lovely twangy tartness (but seriously not too strong). I can't think of a better ending to the brunch you have planned for Sunday! Order yours HERE.

Don't forget, all Mother's Day orders must be in by 9PM Thursday, May 5. And if online ordering isn't your thing, you can always call us to place your order: 901.683.8844 for East Memphis pick up or 901.443.4144 for Midtown pick up.

Posted by Janine Smith at Thursday, April 28, 2016 | 0 comments

featured flavors: fancy teas in east memphis & apricot almond oat bars everywhere!

fancy teas are available in east memphis too!

We've been talking a lot lately about all the premium teas available at our Midtown location, but did you know we have a fabulous selection at our East Memphis store too? And the fabulousness doesn't end there: our Sanderlin location also boasts the fab gnomie Dorothy, our resident tea expert, and she volunteered to help me with this post on our superb teas available at Muddy's East Memphis.

So tell me about the five incredible teas you carry at the Sanderlin Muddy's.
Well, they're all made by Rishi, and they're all organic and very high quality. 

Which is your personal favorite?
Wow, that's tough. It depends on my mood. Earl Grey is good anytime, of course, and I'm a big fan of our Jade Green Tea. It's a very light pure green tea, and what is REALLY cool about it is it's such a high-quality tea, you can use the same tea bag for more than one cup of tea if you don't oversteep or burn it. Then there is our English Breakfast. It's so robust and malty, so it goes really nicely with our sweeter items. And the Yunnan Breakfast is really similar--you know, I'm really impressed that we have a Yunnan offering. And it's really good, similar to the English Breakfast but different. It starts off really strong and then mellows out in your mouth. If I'm having a bold flavored pie, like the Tollhouse Jack, I would definitely have a cup of Yunnan Breakfast with it. And then there's our Chamomile Medley, which is completely herbal and has no caffeine, so you can see the benefits of being able to drink that any time of day. It's delicious too, with a really high grade chamomile and notes of lemon and spearmint. You feel good drinking it, just like you feel good when eating a cupcake! So I guess, yeah, all the flavors are my favorite.

And I hear you really like the Rishi brand a lot?
Yes! I've done quite a bit of research on them. Rishi means something like "seer" because they're "seeking the truth of tea." They're always innovating, learning, and blending new teas and trying to figure out the best way to get the best tea to the most people. Their philosophy reminds me a lot of Muddy's actually--they really complement our own approach with always trying to provide the highest quality baked goods to everyone and always learning and really all our guiding principles. And of course all that would mean nothing if their tea wasn't actually good stuff, but, as you would expect with their approach, it definitely is amazing.

Even in the tea bags? I know tea connoisseurs like yourself tend to prefer loose tea like what is available at our Cooper location.
See, that's one of the ways Rishi's innovative, "seer" sort of approach is paying off quite nicely. They make a different kind of tea bag than all the rest. It's a plant-based mesh with much larger holes than the traditional tea bag, and it's quite large and roomy, so it really is the closest a tea bag can possibly get to brewing like a loose leaf tea. Trust me, this is the only tea bag I've ever had that does not disappoint at all.

And you've had a lot of tea, yeah?
Yes, ma'am. I have about 70 types of tea in my home right now, and I'm always adding to my collection! I started becoming interested in it when studying abroad in England and we would have tea between courses every day. I became very interested in the culture and ritual of tea there, and then I came home and started reading and learning more of the details and technicalities. I worked for Teavana for quite a while and built up my knowledge there too. So yeah, you can trust me when I say Rishi is EXCELLENT tea!

apricot almond oat bars

Though we could make a compelling case that any of our yummy Muddy's treats would go well with a nice hot cup of tea, we're especially excited about pairing our Apricot Almond Oat Bars with it this week! It's been a while since we've seen our Apricot Almond Oat Bars in our case, but they're back for the spring and summer, just in time to satisfy all those cravings for buttery, fruity goodness!

Our Almond Oat Bars are available in a variety of flavors--Strawberry, Raspberry, and Blackberry, too--but Apricot is the star of our case this week. All of our bars begin with a thick, ultra-buttery, ultra-toasty crumbly cookie base laced with loads of almonds and oats. We then slather this layer with jam and finally top it with still more toasty goodness in the form of a crumble with your name on it.

I'm not going to lie: more than one of us gnomies eat our Almond Oat Bars for breakfast on a regular basis, though they're certainly sweet enough to be a satisfying dessert too. It's a simple but indulgent treat that lends itself divinely to a spot of tea. Virtually any warm drink is nice with it, but Dorothy is partial to how the Earl Grey's orangey lemony bergamot complements the slight tartness of the apricot.

Planning a tea party in the near future? Forget the crumpets. Just order a dozen of our Apricot Almond Oat Bars HERE, and you're good to go! In the meantime, you can treat yourself to one or two this week (April 25-30), when they're in our case Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.

Posted by Janine Smith at Tuesday, April 26, 2016 | 0 comments

why you should drink espresso on earth day and every day: an interview with steve mangigian

Huzzah for Earth Day! Huzzah for the Earth, and huzzah for yet another excuse to drink espresso. But not just any espresso. We gnomies of Muddy's Bake Shop only serve Zingerman's Espresso Blend No. 1 at our Midtown coffee bar, and not just because it's the sweetest, smoothest, highest quality espresso we've ever tasted. We also appreciate the story behind the beans and Zingerman's careful custodianship of that product of the Earth, ensuring that growing and processing the beans don't just leave behind a minimal footprint on the Earth: they leave behind a better Earth.

Steve Mangigian of Zingerman's Coffee Company recently sat down with me to explain the origins of their AH-MAZ-ING espresso blend and its journey from the Earth to the bean to the cup and back to the Earth.

Zingerman's Espresso Blend No. 1 originated 12 years ago. While Steve didn't develop the original blend, every year he visits the farm--Daterra Estate--in the Cerrado region of Brazil to reblend the espresso himself. Daterra, which means "of the earth," is actually an estate of three farms established in 1984 by Luis Paschoal.

Sustainability is important to Luis, and it can be seen in the day-to-day operations of the estate. Water used to wash their coffee beans is recycled, and their coffee growing, harvesting, and processing byproducts are all composted. And not all of Daterra Estate is dedicated farming land by any means: a portion of its 14,000 acres is set aside as wetlands for the benefit of local wildlife and agriculture.

Steve looks forward to his yearly visit to Daterra Estate to reblend the Zingerman's espresso blend.

At the cupping table there at the farm, he blends the different varietals grown that year, cupping blend after blend over an entire day until he finds just the right profile Zingerman's Espresso Blend No. 1 is known for: a sweet, rich, ultra-smooth, hazelnutty brew with notes of bittersweet chocolate, a long finish, and a luxurious thick creme. "While other coffee roasters today like to experiment with their espresso blends, we are going for full flavor, traditionally made, and that's how we do everything at Zingerman's. We think our espresso is the closest match you'll find in the United States to what you would drink in Italy."

Once Steve has crafted the perfect blend, the beans are shipped to Zingerman's Coffee Company in Ann Arbor, but don't think that's the end of the coffee's contribution back to the Earth. "We compost literally every by-product we produce," Steve says, "from chaff that comes from the roaster to spent coffee grounds. We produce probably 250 pounds a week of compost, and it all gets picked up either through a composting company we work with or citizens who find our by-products useful for their gardens. Interestingly, coffee grounds have an enormous amount of nitrogen left in them, and it is very useful for soil conditioning and general outdoor use."

"Not all of our customers compost," Steve continues, "but we wish for them to." Here at Muddy's we've estimated we compost about 280 pounds of coffee grounds a month (from our coffee bar alone--that does not include the coffee grounds we go through in our kitchen), or 5,100 pounds of coffee ground compost since the opening of our Midtown shop. That's A LOT of nitrogen that you've contributed to the soil of Memphis, simply by enjoying the best espresso in town!

So happy Earth Day, everyone, from us here at Muddy's Bake Shop! We're glad we get to share this Earth with you each and every day, and we're glad we get to share it with the fine folks of Zingerman's too. We're celebrating with a shot of espresso, and we hope you will too. Here's to the Earth!

Posted by Janine Smith at Friday, April 22, 2016 | 0 comments