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Get To Know: The Illuminated Oven

You may have noticed that one of your strolls through our cafe has been sweetened by a delectable scone, quiche or baked good. These lovely pastries happen to be handmade and delivered by The Illuminated Oven in East Providence, RI. We recommend you try one of their treats on your next visit here throughout the week! But let us allow these baked goods to speak for themselves in our small business interview with The Illuminated Oven.

The entire operation at The Illuminated Oven is headed by Maria, the Owner and Executive Chef. Her baking background started off small, in elementary school to be exact, when one day she played hooky to stay home and practice making a Pistachio Cream Pie from the back of a Jello box. That passion did not fade as she decided to start her own baking company at the age of 25. Her ingredients may start from scratch, but her equipment did not. To assist in her dream, her grandfather, who owned his own bakery in Upstate New York, lended Maria his old baking equipment that had been stowed away in his basement 30 years prior.

From there, The Illuminated Oven had risen from a big dream and a dash of “ignorance and youth”, Maria told us grinning. Let’s look a little further behind the oven door with Maria herself.

illuminated oven maria and food

Q: When was The Illuminated Oven founded and what is its history?

A: Maria, along with her partner, started the bakery all the way back in 2010. Not only did they turn on the ovens, they also powered up the machines… and not the industrial sized mixers. At the same time The Illuminated Oven was opening, they also started another business venture with their Whetstone Workshop. One was simply not enough so now Maria heads two very different yet unexpectedly connected businesses. They were told it could not be done; so they did it.

Q: What is the mission of The Illuminated Oven?

A: To create and produce good tasting products with locally sourced, fresh ingredients. It really is as easy as pie. Simply put, Maria emphasized that she would not bake and make things that she would not feed to her own daughter.

Q: How can people get your baked goods into their hands?

A: The Illuminated Oven currently only sells to their wholesale clients. Stop by and support the local cafes and coffee shop partners they have listed on their website for a sweet treat. See who’s selling The Illuminated Oven near you by clicking here!

Q: What is production like at the bakery?

A: Maria prefers to keep a small, close-knit group of employees so their family is only four people big, including Maria herself. Each pastry chefs works around a schedule that works for them because Maria sees the value in catering towards the strength of every individual team member. Production rarely stops and the hand-delivered orders are constant. Everything handled, from baking tray to plate, is made from scratch on-site. She spends time dedicated to making sure her ingredients are as fresh and local as possible. And no time is wasted because a typical day starts around 6 a.m. and can sometimes last into the early hours of the morning. Their menu typically offers around 15 items at one time and the flavors rotate seasonally to take advantage of the freshest ingredients.

illuminated oven production

Q: What is your best seller?

A: The Ginger Lemon Scone. Plain and simple except there is absolutely nothing plain and simple about this scone.

Q: What is the most underrated item you sell?

A: The Date & Nut Bar. Maria clued us in about this treat with a cult following. Customers will even special order a months supply at a time so don’t glaze over the date & nut bar!

Q: What would surprise someone to learn about The Illuminated Oven?

A: That The Illuminated Oven and Whetstone Workshop are owned and operated by Maria and her partner. The two businesses couldn’t seem more different, but they coexist quite seamlessly. The balance can be demanding at times but Maria simply responds to “whichever child is crying the loudest.” And when you can rely on yourself to manufacture your own equipment, like some necessary quiche ring molds, the demand seems well worth the effort.

Q: What is The Illuminated Oven’s biggest accomplishment to date?

A: That she never gave up. Maria displays how powerful the combination of determination and a dream can really be.

Q: Where do you see the bakery in five years?

A: The Illuminated Oven’s focus is and has always been quality and not quantity and that continues to drive Maria forward. She is currently content and gladly welcoming the quiet now that the chaos is settling down. This has been a 25 year investment, and while extremely grateful, Maria is eagerly looking forward to more slow moments in her own life and work. But don’t worry Illuminated isn’t going anywhere and you’ll be able to continue to enjoy your favorite treats and baked goods.

Thank you to Maria for allowing us a peek behind the kitchen door. We value not only local, freshly made goods, but also the people behind the operations that make it all possible. Remember, we always have the yummy scones, quiches and baked goods from The Illuminated Oven stocked in our Briggs Cafe!

illuminated oven quiche and logo

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