Kristine Moberg is the definition of a perfectionist. At least that’s how her husband—and business partner—Mitch Jackson describes her.
“To know Kristine is to understand what a perfectionist looks like. She insists on perfection not only from herself, but also from our other two full-time bakers,” the co-owner of Queen City Bakery dotes. “Consistency is the name of the game and her command of detail is what makes all of our products stand out. It’s not only the flavor combinations, but the technique.”
But sometimes even perfectionists take leaps of faith.
Kristine’s own gamble came when she and Mitch left their New York City home for the vast unknown of Sioux Falls. The couple had met in France and moved to Manhattan shortly after when, in 2003, Kristine—a complete pastry novice—launched her baking career out of Polka Dot Cake Studio in the West Village. Quick to learn and a natural media darling—she appeared on (or in) The Martha Stewart Show, TODAY Show, The New York Times, Time Out New York and many others—Kristine’s career gained steam, and she longed to open her space, but felt the expensive New York market was out of reach. That’s when she and Mitch turned to South Dakota as an alternative for starting a new home and a family.
“The food scene [in Sioux Falls] is really starting to come into its own,” says Mitch, who claims he only learned baking out of necessity to help run the business. “People are finally realizing that chain restaurants aren’t where to go for good food. Don’t get me wrong, we still get area farmers who think that dining at Applebee’s is a treat, but most people who live here are migrating toward mom-and-pop shops.”
Sioux Falls is one of the few places in the country that was unaffected by the great Recession of 2008; as such, a number of new food businesses like C.H. Patisserie have moved to town and quickly prospered. Mitch cites M.B. Haskett, Parker’s Bistro, Lam’s, Jacky’s and Sanaa’s among other culinary trailblazers in town, adding: “That’s what is great about the food scene right now—people are more conscious of what they are consuming and want something that is crafted and not unwrapped and zapped.”
Enter: Queen City Bakery.
The warm, welcoming café serves as a meeting grounds for many a Sioux Falls resident, as well as a draw for tourists from far and wide who recognize Kristine’s name or have read about the bakery’s accolades via user-based review sites like Yelp or Urban Spoon. Its location along the booming 8th Avenue corridor makes it a convenient place for breakfast, and the atmosphere lends itself to a place patrons want to settle in with a latte and while away the time. And in a city rife in coffee connoisseurs, it also offers java lovers a bevy of food options with which to pair their Americano.
The first iteration of the bakery debuted in 2007 at roughly 1,700 square feet, fitting only three people in the kitchen. The couple quickly amassed a loyal following and outgrew their original digs, opening a new location with double the square footage in 2013.
“We needed a bigger kitchen with a better layout. We needed more seating. Our vision was to find a space the fell in line with the brand of the bakery, stay downtown and give us the room to grow again,” Mitch explains. “That is exactly what we are doing. We have grown considerably in the three years since we have moved in to the new space, and we still have the space to expand without having to move again.”
And while Queen City Bakery’s treats know no bounds—you’ll find everything from turnovers and cheesecake scones to quiche and Boston cream pie—Kristine’s biscuits are second to none.
“Kristine works tirelessly on her technique and makes sure that the other bakers are doing it exactly the way she does as well. I think that’s one of the secrets is the consistency of our product,” Mitch says.
But what else is in Kristine’s secret sauce? It’s all about that flour power, Mitch reveals, in addition to a commitment to using all high-quality ingredients.
“Our ingredients are the second component that makes our biscuits stand out. When we opened, we asked one of our ingredient suppliers for a good flour because we didn’t know what was available here in Sioux Falls. He brought us a run of the mill flour, and after using it in one batch of scones, we immediately donated it to the homeless shelter and told him it wasn’t up to our standards,” he recalls. “We made that company import Wheat Montana Flour for us because we wanted something better, and we source Plugra butter instead of using a regular butter.”
Because at the end of the day, in such complex times, people really just want a dose of simplicity, a shot of the familiar.
“The real trend is people moving away from chain restaurants, and it is a natural tendency to go back to a simple product, like a biscuit, for people to remember what real ‘from scratch’ baking means,” he says. “I think everyone can remember home-cooked meals growing up when biscuits were present and people want to not only remember that time, but also taste that nostalgia.”
Nostalgic and perfect, no doubt—if Kristine has anything to say about it.
Recipe from Queen City Bakery:
Buttermilk Biscuits - yields 12 biscuits
AP Flour: 473g
Baking Powder: 1T. + 1 1/2t.
Baking Soda: 1t.
Salt: 1 1/4t.
Buttermilk: 1 2/3 c.
1. Whisk together all dry.
2. Cut butter into dry.
3. Add buttermilk around edge of bowl. Use a spatula to push mixture towards the center until the mixture comes loosely together.
4. Let sit 2 to 3 minutes.
5. Empty dough onto floured surface. Coat with flour and knead 6 to 8 times until a skin forms.
6. Roll into a 1/2-inch thick rectangle and fold into thirds.
7. Roll into a strip 1/2-inch thick.
8. Cut and invert biscuits onto pan. Roll out scraps and fold into thirds and re-roll. Cut biscuits. Piece together scraps to get any additional biscuits.
9. Brush with milk.
10. Bake at 375 degrees.
Queen City Bakery 324 E 8th St Sioux Falls, South Dakota 57103
Kristin Luna is a biscuit-loving, Nashville-based writer who has penned more than a dozen guidebooks for Frommer's in addition to contributed to countless magazines, including Travel + Leisure, Southern Living, Newsweek, Glamour, Redbook, Real Simple, Parade, and Forbes. A lifelong globetrotter, Kristin has visited more than 120 countries and shares her adventures and travel photography on her award-winning blog Camels & Chocolate.