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BRATTLEBORO — Kelsey Baumgarten blames her career choice as a dietician on her parents, who she said encouraged a healthy lifestyle.

Baumgarten, 28, grew up in Bridgewater, Mass., where her dad taught physical education and her mom was a baker.

And even though from a young age, she knew she wanted to work as some sort of caregiver, she also had a dream of owning a small cafe. She is now the proprietor of Hidden Bean Bakeshop, where she makes desserts using beans as an ingredient.

I have drawings from when I was 16 of my dream cafe. It was going to be a conventional cafe with coffee and stuff made from butter, sugar and flour. My plan was to be a dietician until I could afford to open my own bakery. I got a degree in nutrition from UMass Amherst and then lived in Boston after college. I was kind of torn between nursing and nutrition, but I didn’t want to work overnight, and I didn’t want to see blood. I’m basically on plan, though I am working one day a week at a local naturopathic clinic.

I had a gluten-free friend who made a black bean cake for a birthday party, and I thought,”Why isn’t there a whole line of bean goods?” That got me experimenting. At the time, there really wasn’t much about baking with beans, but I took traditional recipes and started replacing things. It’s sort of how I still do it. All my recipes come from experiments. I’ve kind of been winging it the whole time. But the treats I sell, I have those down to an exact science. The recipes are not as particular as people might think. I mean, the particular style of cooking I am doing, they’re not delicate croissants or things like that. It’s more like brownies and products I have wiggle room to experiment with. I hope to actually publish a cookbook soon with my recipes in it.

I first came to Ludlow when I was 16, to visit a friend who has a bed and breakfast in Ludlow. I had never really experienced rural life before, having lived in the suburbs my entire life. There were open fields and farmers markets and cows and I fell in love with it. I said, “Someday, I’m moving to Vermont.” I moved to Brattleboro in 2018, but before that I had lived on a farm in Manchester, Vermont, Earth Sky Time Community Farm, which had an organic farm and bakery. Growing up I knew I wanted to live in Vermont, and I wanted to learn to farm. That was really my first venture. I was baking there the whole time. I could make a huge batch of brownies and get immediate feedback. They were asking for more. A bunch of hungry young people. I moved to Brattleboro because I had a good friend living here. I mostly picked it on a whim because it seemed like it was a community that cared about art and local food, and thus might be a fun place to live in as well as launch my business.

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Brownies, lots of whoopie pies, vegan desserts, cakes, pies, sweet breads with pumpkins or apples or zucchini. Lots of cookies. I also do special order birthday cakes or like a huge box of brownies. I’ve been selling at the Brattleboro Farmers Market, and I was selling at the food truck roundup at the Retreat Farm. I also sell products at the Wild Carrot Farmstand on Upper Dummerston Road and at Nicole’s Kitchen. I will also be doing the Winter Farmers Market in Brattleboro.

People who’ve come to me are concerned about their health or have diet restrictions. With a conventional cake, after you have a slice, you have a sugar crash, and you might want to take a nap. Beans add protein and fiber, so the cake doesn’t digest as quickly. This way people can indulge with something tasty and still feel good. I am still using sugar, but I have different lines of products, like gluten-free and dairy-free, vegan, as well. Though I do make some desserts sugar free, for people with diabetes, I make lots of stuff with maple syrup or honey, the gold star sweeteners. And those I can get locally.

I’ve never had anyone complain. I guess if you ate the whole cake, you might experience some discomfort. And most of the people who buy my treats are already eating high-fiber food, so their bodies are accustomed to it.

I’m not sure about opening a cafe anymore. I kind of like the freedom of a home business and going to farmers markets. With that, when you are done for the day you are done. My realistic plan is to convert a room in my house into a commercial kitchen and continue the way I am going. Maybe open a farmstand on my property. I’m not making any promises, but keep on the lookout for a roadside self-serve stand in Guilford, where I live.

To contact Kelsey, visit her website at or email her at

Bob Audette can be contacted at