Turning Passion into Pastries: Elena Hert of European Baked Delights

June 1, 2024

article and photos by Renata Haidle

“Why would you be excited to write about me?” asked Elena Hert when I told her I wanted to tell her story to our community of readers. The owner of a small, home-based baking business that is in its second year of existence, Elena has been working hard to provide her customers with delectable desserts while at the same time being a stay-at-home mom to her 3-year-old daughter, Emma, and a devoted wife to Chad, a retired Navy Seabee. To me, that seemed like a story worth telling.

Elena is unassuming and introverted. She doesn’t like to talk about herself or her accomplishments, although there are many. Born and raised in Bucharest, the capital of Romania, she pursued a corporate career in tourism after obtaining a bachelor’s degree in management and business administration and a master’s degree in marketing and management, both from the Academy of Economic Studies in Bucharest. “I have worked in Egypt in administration, then in Qatar for Qatar Airways,” she reminisces. “In my last job, I was a payroll specialist for Oracle Romania. After our daughter, Emma, was born, I became a stay-at-home mom.”

In 2021, Chad and Elena moved to Billings to be closer to his family. Staying home with her daughter became Elena’s primary focus and occupation. An active, dynamic person, Elena looked for an opportunity to channel her talents and energy into an activity that would allow her to spend the majority of her time working from home. A business involving cooking and baking was an easy answer, as both were second nature to her. As a child, she would help both her mother and her grandmother in the kitchen, preparing simple dishes. “I’ve been cooking since I was 8 years old,” she says. “I used to make mamaliga (a traditional cornmeal mush) and other dishes for my grandparents when they were out all day working the fields in the countryside, and I was there for the summer vacation.”

Her first attempt at a home-baking business came at the age of 27 while working in Egypt. Missing all the baked pastries from home and the pleasure of sharing them with others, she made a Facebook page with a menu of baked goods and advertised it on the Romanian community Facebook group. “I was holding a regular full-time job and cooking/baking in my free time,” Elena remembers. “I even had a big order for several cozonaci (a traditional Romanian sweet bread) placed by the Romanian Embassy in Cairo for our National Day celebration. That was huge for me, and I was more than happy to bake them, even if I had to stay up late at night to finish baking all of them.”

After moving to Billings, Elena started baking for all the major holidays and shared her desserts with her neighbors. “After trying my baked goods several times,” she says, “they suggested I open a business to sell [them]. At that moment, I realized that was my chance to share our Romanian and European traditions with the people of Billings who have never had a chance to travel to Romania or anywhere in Europe or with people who did and are missing the traditional baked goods from overseas.”

In January 2023, Elena opened her own business, European Baked Delights, LLC. With the help of social media, her company has been growing steadily. However, growth has never come at the expense of Emma, Elena’s first priority. The flexibility of being at home with her daughter and the ability to care for her 24/7 is the biggest advantage of having a home business. That might change when Emma reaches school age. Elena is already thinking of owning a coffee shop/bakery with her husband someday - a cozy place where people can enjoy a cup of coffee alongside her baked goods.

She smiles When I ask what she likes to do in her spare time. Spare time is a precious commodity between her duties as a wife and a mother and the demands of her small business. “When I do get those moments,” she says, “I love to read; one of my latest discoveries is the Coffee Self-Talk series by Kristen Helmstetter. I also enjoy watching a good movie on Netflix.” An avid traveler (she has visited 22 countries so far), she would welcome a trip with her family. Or anything, anywhere, as long as Chad and Emma are included. “We like to go together everywhere, we like spending time together, and we are blessed to love each other so much,” she concludes.

How could I not be excited to write about her? Any woman who successfully manages a household, child-rearing, and a small business deserves to be celebrated, encouraged, and supported.

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Don’t miss May’s Bake This to create Elena’s Shortcrust Crescent Cookies at home.

Find Elena's shortcrust crescent cookies with turkish delight recipe here!

Originally printed in the June 2024 issue of Simply Local Magazine

Read this article in the digital issue of Simply Local here!

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