Sara Miller grew up in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of south Oklahoma City with a dream of returning someday with a bakery of her own. That dream was realized last week with the opening of La Confection at 213A SW 25th St.
Before Miller could achieve her dream, she had to gain experience and worked at some of the city’s most successful restaurants and catering companies.
“I’ve always been into food and cooking, but I got into baking when I was little,” Miller said.
After graduating from Capitol Hill High School, Miller matriculated through Platt College’s culinary arts career training program, where she said that she got a rounded education in savory cooking techniques, food pairings and pastry.
“I like to do stuff that wouldn’t normally go together,” she said. “I do a strawberry basil éclair that pairs well. I did a watermelon and rosemary sorbet. I like earthy flavors with the savory balanced with sweet.”
After graduation, Miller became a baker with Ned’s Catering, where she made breads and desserts for private events as small at a 10-person lunch or 500-guest dinner. She then created pastry for Western Concepts’ Vast at the top of Devon Tower.
Miller was then recruited by chef Andrew Black to open his since-closed Meatball House in Norman. After some time in private dining, Miller felt it was time to completely round out her experience by learning front-of-the-house operations through a general manager position with Coolgreens.
“I’ve tried to soak up as much as I can,” Miller said. “Each job has been slightly different enough to get complete perspective on things.”
When it came time to look for a location, she wanted to return to Capitol Hill. It was a move that was facilitated by a loan through the Oklahoma City Planning Department’s Commercial District Revolving Loan Fund.
Capitol Hill’s main street is one of 14 sections in the city eligible for the fund that starts at $20,000 for a microenterprise that employs up to five people.
“I wouldn’t have even known about the program until my friend told me about it,” Miller said.
At Ned’s Catering, she learned how to plan and prepare in advance of large orders. Working with Andrew Black, she experienced the fast-paced life on the cooking line, and with Coolgreens, she learned more about financials, marketing and how to manage customer flow. It is her time with Vast that gave her inspiration for the daily menus changes at La Confection.
“Having my own bakery has been my dream since I went my own culinary route. I figured it was time and that I was ready to do my own thing,” Miller said. “I wanted something a little more upscale pastry, something that is just now getting to Oklahoma. Most bakeries tend to do a lot of cakes, which are really popular — especially cupcakes are crazy. I wanted something different, and bring my background from Vast, I wanted bigger city pastry-type shops here.”
The shop will be open 7 a.m. - 7 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, 7 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 1 p.m.-5 p.m. Sunday. It offers a mixture of breakfast pastry, dinner rolls, bollio bread that is perfect for tortas, cakes, cupcakes, macarons, and more fun concepts like a cookies-and-cream cinnamon roll.
“We want to offer some stuff that you can pick up on the way home from work to go with dinner, either bread or dessert,” Miller said, noting that they offered a focaccia as well as garlic knots that pair well with dinner in its opening week.
Miller’s personal favorite is the fresh fruit tart, and it is an example of how La Confection’s products will change by the day. A base product will be augmented by a new flavor or fresh ingredient based on the season. Miller proudly displays mango and apricot varieties that mix custard with a pie shell.
“I get a sweet tooth every now and then, and I’ll take one bite and think ‘That’s enough.’ I can’t do a whole lot of sugar, so the fruit tart is sweet but not overly so, and the fresh fruit on top gives it that extra natural sweetness,” she said. “You have the creaminess, crunch from the tart shell and the bite from the fruit is a good combination.”
La Confection also serves coffee, offering lattes, cappuccino and mochas in addition to fresh drip coffee.
“Capitol Hill is my home,” Miller said. “I live about 10 minutes away, and my grandparents live less than a mile away [from the store]. There is a lot going on and a lot coming to this area. There is a lot the city is doing to help rebuild, so it is exciting to see what all is coming and the potential that we have.”