Northwood woman offers recipes for holiday treats

Published 10:18 am Thursday, October 29, 2015

Jill Ehrhardt, owner of Fat Jill’s, a bakery in Northwood, holds a peanut butter cupcake. Ehrhardt sold 400 cupcakes in her first Wind Down Wednesday event. - Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

Jill Ehrhardt, owner of Fat Jill’s, a bakery in Northwood, holds a peanut butter cupcake. Ehrhardt sold 400 cupcakes in her first Wind Down Wednesday event. – Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

Baking goods for special events has become a passion for one Northwood woman.

Jill Ehrhardt, owner of Fat Jill’s, a bakery in Northwood, began the business after she left her job as a bookkeeper on Aug. 1, 2013.

Her first job was to cater a dessert for a wedding.

Email newsletter signup

“I was like, am I ready for this?” Ehrhardt said. “Then I looked at a few wedding cakes and thought I could do it.”

After she catered her first wedding, word spread over social media.

“It kind of went crazy from there,” she said while laughing.

She was approached to do a booth for Wind Down Wednesday this summer, where she said she made and sold 400 cupcakes her first event. She and her daughter, Kati Davis, sold 695 cupcakes at the last rained-out Wind Down Wednesday.

Fat Jill’s makes cakes, cupcakes, muffins, cookies, Scandinavian items, rosettes, krum kaka, chocolate covered pretzels, fudge with or without nuts, and peppermint almond bark.

She is planning on having custom cookie orders available for the holiday season and advised people to pre-order through her before Dec. 15. She said she bakes Scandinavian items for the holiday season and more traditional cookies.

She said she started baking at age 9 for 4-H, and her grandma was an amazing baker. She aims to bring her experience into every baked good she makes.

“That’s the feeling I want people to have when they bite into a cookie, ‘That’s what Grandma used to make,’” Ehrhardt said. “It’s more than just food, it’s an emotional connection.”

Davis and Sandy Trainer, Jill’s mother, occasionally help her make the cupcakes.

Tegan Cotter, Sandy’s niece, also helps with the operation.

Everything is custom-ordered in the business and you must call ahead, Ehrardt said.

She said there are slow and busy weeks.

“It’s really feast or famine,” Ehrhardt said. “It’s either super busy or dead.”

Ehrhardt said she is also working on making pies and other seasonal items.

She recalled making a chocolate and gummy worm Spiderman cake for a child who was battling cancer. She said she made the cake for free and the child passed away in May.

“People remember that,” she said. “It may not seem important to some people, but it’s important to me.”

She places a lot of responsibility on making birthday cakes.

“If I know I am making a birthday cake it’s huge,” she said. “I am responsible for making or breaking a kid’s birthday, that’s huge.”

Ehrhardt is a recovering alcoholic and she said that becoming sober has become a life lesson she has incorporated into the business.

“The whole recovery process gave me the feeling that I overcame that and there’s nothing I can’t do,” she said.

People must pre-order to buy baked goods from Fat Jill’s. For an order of three-dozen or less of cupcakes, Ehrhardt advises giving her a couple days’ notice; for four to 10 dozen, she says she needs a couple weeks’ notice; and for anything over 10 dozen, four weeks notice.

People are advised to let her know as soon as possible if they would like to have her cater a wedding.

Ehrhardt has goals for her business.

“I’d like to be the go-to person, where people say if they want really good cupcakes they’ll come to me,” Ehrhardt said. “I want to build really good relationships so that can be the deal.”

Ehrhardt ships around 12 to 14 dozen cookies to the Eastern Washington University Football team’s offensive line each year through a friend who has a son on the team.

She will be traveling to Colorado later this year to attend a game.

In her spare time, Ehrhardt enjoys crocheting, spending time with her kids and watching high school sports.

She has a husband, David, and three daughters.


Soft molasses cookies

1/2 cup of softened butter

1/2 cup of Crisco

1 1/2 cups of sugar

1/2 cup of molasses

2 eggs, slightly beaten

4 cups of flour

1/2 teaspoon of salt

2 1/4 teaspoons of baking soda

2 1/4 teaspoons of ground ginger

11/2 teaspoons of ground cloves

1 1/2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon


In a large mixing bowl cream together butter, Crisco and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in molasses and eggs; set mixture aside. In another bowl combine flour, salt, soda, ginger, cloves and cinnamon. Blend thoroughly with a wire whisk. Gradually add flour mixture to creamed mixture until dough is smooth. Roll dough into 1 1/2-inch balls. Dip tops in sugar; place 2 1/2 inches apart on a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 11 minutes. Do not over bake. Cool on a wire rack and store in a tightly-covered container.

— Jill Ehrhardt


White sugar cookies

2 cups sugar

1 cup lard or butter

1 cup sour cream

3 eggs

1 teaspoon soda (mixed in sour salt)


vanilla extract, if needed

4 cups flour (more or less)


Mix sugar and lard. Add eggs; beat well. Add rest of ingredients. Use enough flour to make stiff dough. Let stand in refrigerator overnight. Roll thin. Cut with a large cookie cutter. Sprinkle with sugar. Ehrhardt advises refrigerating the dough before baking. Bake at 375 degrees until done, about 8 to 10 minutes. My mother, Peder Hendrikson, would sometimes cook raisins or dates and put between two cookies for a special filled cookie.

— Elizabeth Weineth


Chocolate cake

1 1/2 cups unsifted flour

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 cup cocoa

1/3 cup oil

1 tablespoon white vinegar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup cold water


1 1/2 cups sugar

Six tablespoons margarine

Six tablespoons milk

1/2 cup chocolate chips

Four to five large marshmallows, cut up

Mix and bake in a greased 8-inch round pan for 30 to 35 minutes at 350 degrees. For frosting boil sugar, margarine and milk for one minute. Stir in chocolate chips and margarine, stirring until smooth. Cool slightly and spread on cake.

— Jill Ehrhardt

About Sam Wilmes

Sam Wilmes covers crime, courts and government for the Albert Lea Tribune.

email author More by Sam