There’s not much better on a Saturday morning than waking up to homemade pastries – especially if you don’t have to make them. That’s the idea behind Rachel Curran’s “Pajama Boxes” – a dozen assorted pastries made from scratch and delivered between 8:30 and 10 a.m., so the recipients don’t have to change out of their pajamas.
The Pajama Boxes are one of several projects Curran is cooking up as Odd Bird Baking Co., which she started about five years ago, she said.
“I went to culinary school – I never thought I was going to be a pastry chef,” she said. “I just thought I would be a savory kitchen chef, but I kind of just fell into it.”
Curran worked in a number of bakeries over the course of her career, decorating cakes and patisserie items, in addition to baking all manner of foods.
“I just kind of fell in love with it,” she said. “And then I had kids and I knew I wanted to be home with them, so I stepped away. Odd Bird kind of came from that – wanting to still be relevant in my field and still have that outlet, but not have the commitment of going to a job everyday, being able to pick it up and put it down as my life is allowing.”
Curran’s family moved to Durango about two and a half years ago and began baking her Pajama Boxes early in the COVID-19 pandemic, taking a break from them around December and bringing them back late this summer.
“We were a few months into the pandemic, and I was looking for a way to bring some comfort and fun to people,” she said. “I just tried to kind of do something fun and different and bring the bakery to people’s homes.”
The Pajama Box pastries always feature at least two each of six varieties of pastries. Curran said two of the pastry types are usually gluten-free.
“I use all my own recipes, and they’re a surprise ... I bake it all fresh; I use the best ingredients I can find. I try to source local when I can.,” she said. “People have to be ready for anything when they open up the box.”
The pastries can take almost any form – danishes, morning buns, coffee cakes. Any of the classic breakfast pastries, with the exception of croissants, might show up.
“I kind of try to hit something a little crunchy, something little more cakey,” Curran said. “I often do like a brownie or a cookie as well.”
What sets Curran’s pastries apart from the rest is the imagination that goes into them. While the type of baked good is always something familiar, the baker tend to imbue her creations with a novel ingredient, transforming them for the better. For instance, a recent box included snickerdoodles with miso paste, whole wheat biscuits with harissa and banana bread with tahini.
“I try to bring some unusual touches, unexpected things to classic pastries,” she said. “I don’t want to get too crazy, where you’re like, ‘That sounds cool and interesting, but I don’t want to eat this.’ I try to keep it approachable still, where it’s something just off the beaten path a little bit.”
Curran limits deliveries to Durango’s city limits, but is open to set up meeting spots with people who might be out of range. The boxes can be ordered on Odd Bird’s website, www.oddbirdbaking.co.
Curran makes everything from scratch in her home kitchen under the cottage food law, using a KitchenAid mixer and a standard oven, she said. But she plans to change that in the near future. She hopes to move into a commercial space soon, which will allow her to offer a wider variety of goods and services.
“I’m kind of limited in what I can do,” she said. “It’s been cool because I can just work out of my house, but I’m hoping to be able to bring some more to the table.”
She said her space will likely start a production kitchen, but she would like to be able to host pop-up businesses and the like there eventully.
Curran is also interested in offering tastings and classes on skills such as cake decorating.
“I’d love to do cookie decorating – usually around the holidays, I do hand-painted sugar cookies, which is really fun, and I think a lot of people can take that home and use that skill at home,” she said. “I’d love to do classes for kids, too.”
As Odd Bird Baking Co. evolves, it might take on all sorts of jobs.
“The community here is just so supportive of small businesses,” Curran said. “I have a lot of dreams. I’d love to do weddings and special events. I’d love to do wholesale accounts, which I’m not able to do under the cottage food law right now.”
In the immediate future, however, the baker plans to start focusing on one thing in particular: pies.
“I really want to do pies,” she said. “I’ve been getting very excited. Fall, I feel like, is pie weather ... and I have some really fun ideas for some pies.”
The seasons and the flavors people naturally crave during different times of the year inspire Curran’s choices.
“I feel like in the fall you want more creamy, decadent, mapley, spicy things,” she said. “Here in this town, the seasons just feel so crisp and distinct. There’s so much good food and so many amazing farms.”