Here’s a recipe for success: Take a group of passionate, talented bakers, add a gorgeous, state-of-the-art space, mix it together with some hungry college students and local residents, and let sit—the results are sure to be fantastic.
Fusion Bakery has been in Middletown since Sept. 2007, but it hasn’t become quite the sensation that owner and baker Steve Pikos thinks it should be. And after taste-testing a ridiculous number of Fusion’s products and chatting with baking-veteran Pikos, we can say we agree with him. Main Street is home to a truly excellent bakery that more Wesleyan kids should visit. For those students who are missing home-baked treats, look no further.
As part of a strategy to get more customers, Fusion recently relocated from the Main Street Marketplace to the Riverview Center, right next to Cold Stone Creamery. Upon entering Fusion’s new premises, we were impressed by its spacious, airy setting. Compared to the kiosk-sized space that used to house the bakery, the new location is a coliseum. The bakery counter is twice the size of the previous one, and it is complemented by a large seating area in front. Although larger now, Fusion is actually more charming than it was before; unlike its old site, which had no seating, this open space is much more inviting for customers to sit, eat, and relax.
Part of this cozy comfort is also due to the new decor, which reveals the wide range of Fusion’s delectable creations. As you enjoy your baked good of choice, and perhaps a cup of coffee, you can admire the photos of Fusion’s pastries that hang on the wall. The huge windows take up most of the storefront, allowing sunshine to stream in and making the space feel expansive and bright. Similarly, the kitchen is completely open, so clients can watch the staff busily prepare the day’s selections, baked fresh every day.
“We make our own fillings, our own buttercream, our own everything,” Pikos said. “We don’t use cake mix at all. We do everything ourselves.”
Pikos, who owns the bakery, has serious credentials. He was first exposed to the food business by his parents and their Greek-and-pizza restaurant. After going to school for finance, he made a career switch and attended culinary school to major in pastry arts. He opened Fusion Bakery soon after.
The bakery boasts a wide variety of products, including breakfast pastries like muffins, scones, and croissants; cakes and cupcakes; cookies; brownies; bars; éclairs; tarts; and at least three gluten-free offerings a day.
If you don’t see your favorite treat in the display case, don’t worry. The folks at Fusion accept suggestions, and odds are they’ll be able to whip up a batch of whatever it is that your taste buds are looking for. Not only that, but they’re also more than willing to create a custom dessert just for you. Whether it’s a birthday cake, cookie platter, or personalized care package, they always aim to please.
“If someone called in and asked for two lemon squares for Friday, we’d make them,” Pikos said.
However, Fusion does a great deal more than just sell baked goods out of its store. It also runs a thriving mass-order service, providing morning pastries for Klekolo Coffee, desserts for Illiano’s Pizzeria, carrot cakes for multiple establishments, and a baked-good catering service.
It may be slightly tucked away from the hustle-and-bustle of Main Street, but the quality of its products is front-and-center. During our visit, we were able to try a variety of the desserts offered at the bakery.
They were all phenomenal, but some of our favorites included an incredibly moist Italian rainbow cookie cake. It had perfect proportions of raspberry jam, chocolate, and a delightful almond flavor. Fusion’s New York-style cheesecake was thick and perfectly tart but at the same time creamy and indulgent. For those looking to get into the Halloween spirit, the day’s specials included two fun Halloween-themed cookies, but its traditional chocolate chip and cranberry oatmeal cookies were also good.
And, of course, we tried its carrot cake, which is Fusion’s best-seller. Unlike other bakeries, which add raisins and other fruit to their carrot cake, Fusion keeps the taste classic with a mild spice. The moist, fluffy cake is perfectly complemented by the light cream cheese frosting.
Despite the outlandish amount of food that we consumed, we were surprised to find that we did not experience the typical sick-to-your-stomach exhaustion that follows an onslaught of desserts. Pikos said this is because Fusion’s desserts are only made with the most wholesome ingredients.
“We’re not going to use anything here that you can’t pronounce,” Pikos remarked. “I can tell you every ingredient that’s in that kitchen.”
Fusion baked goods are also reasonably priced. Most cupcakes cost around $2.50, brownies are $2.25, and cookies are $1.25. On top of that, Wesleyan students always receive a 15 percent discount, and Fusion will be accepting Middletown Cash as a form of payment very soon.
Since all baked goods are served fresh, they need to get rid of the leftover baked goods at closing time, and these often go to the lucky customers who are still in the store. What could possibly be better than coming back to campus with a bag of free pastries?
Right now the bakery is busy ironing out a few last kinks, but in a few weeks it will be celebrating a grand opening in its new home. Keep an eye out for this event, as it is sure to feature an abundance of delicious sweets.