Getting to Know: Perrie Wilkof, the Dough Mama
Perrie Wilkof is a trained pastry chef, and it shows in every crumb she creates at Dough Mama. I can’t get enough of her biscuits or Lemon Lavender Chess Pie, and Dough Mama’s maple milk is the stuff of legends. Plus, I jumped for joy at the news that the Clintonville brunch spot will be starting dinner hours later this year. However, there is so much more to Perrie than just baked goods! She is a cookie queen, a musician, a businesswoman, and a community activist too. Perrie is a great storyteller, and I think you all will really enjoy her honesty with these questions. There’s even a nugget about a Columbus baker romance! Keep scrolling to get the scoop on this Dough Mama, and make sure to learn more about Perrie’s business at the links here:
What is your most influential childhood food memory?
When I was 3 years old I ordered steamed clams for dinner, and my Step-Grandmother went crazy! She thought it was so inappropriate for such a young child to be eating food like that! My parents always tell this story because it shows I was an adventurous and enthusiastic eater from the get! I always say that I love to eat, and that’s why I do what I do, the palette has always been my most important tool!
What motivated you to open Dough Mama?
I always wanted to be my own boss, so that was probably my number one motivation. However, when I moved to Columbus, specifically Clintonville, five and a half years ago, there weren’t many places to get brunch, and I wanted some brunch, so I knew there was a hole I could fill. Also, I felt my style, being from another city originally, would bring something new to this ever-evolving city that I love so much.
What is your favorite food item on your menu?
My favorite food item on the menu is the granola! I love sweet and salty combos and this one has a lot of flavor. I like to put a handful of fruit on top and eat it with almond milk, starts my day off right!
Your pie comes in so many tasty varieties! Where is your favorite place to find inspiration when creating a new flavor?
I usually find inspiration for my sweet pies in food that I eat elsewhere. I like to translate non-pie desserts into pies. For instance, one of the first pies I created, and one of my all time favorites, is our Chocolate Orange Cream Pie, which was inspired by those dark chocolate oranges you get in your stocking that you slam on the table and it breaks into slices. I wanted to capture that experience in the pie, so I filled a butter crust with dark chocolate ganache and orange pudding, then topped it with whipped cream and lots of orange zest to ensure it really conveyed the aromatics.
How many pounds of flour do you go through in a year? It must be an insane number!
Hundreds! Actually its probably closer to 8000, that would be really fun to get an exact amount though!
The maple milk featured on the menu is such an wonderfully tasty beverage that you don’t see in Ohio very often. How did you develop this drink?
Maple Milk is the the only thing on our menu I can not take any credit for creating! When I was in college in western Massachusetts I used to do a lot of my studying at this amazing cafe on a waterfall called the Montague Bookmill. It was half an hour from my school but so worth the drive. I would spend all day there reading and writing, and they had the most amazing locally sourced food. Maple Milk was on their menu, and I would have one every day because it felt like such a treat. I always said if I ever open a restaurant I would serve that because it’s so unique, incredibly delicious, and it feels good to have items on the menu that reference my past.
Can you tell us about your worst kitchen disaster or a flavor experiment gone wrong? I like to know I’m not the only one with cooking fails.
Oh I have a doozy. I tell all of my employees this story because it has so many lessons embedded in it and I never want anyone else to experience it! When I worked at a restaurant in Brooklyn called Pies N’ Thighs, we used to make Buckwheat Waffles, once per week, in an 18 quart batch of batter. However Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives, came to the restaurant and once the episode aired, we started making that batch up to 14 times per week! I was in charge of making a HUGE batch, I believe it was 72 quarts (which required separating over 300 eggs!), and when the prep cook started cooking them, he said they were not right. We tried one and realized none of it had any sugar, and had I tasted the batter before handing it off to the cook, I would have known and could have corrected it! My boss was sooo pissed and really ripped into me, I felt horrible! It had wasted so much time on my part and the cook’s, and it was very difficult to incorporate the sugar back in, especially after some had already been cooked and therefore the ratio had been thrown off. Everyone makes mistakes, but it taught me to ALWAYS TRY MY FOOD before deciding it’s done, and also to be much more focused when mise-ing out my recipes. I’ll never forget it!
What cooking tool can you not live without?
My favorite tool is a bench scraper! I use it to cut butter, doughs, pick up broken eggs, and nothing cleans better, I love it!
Which Columbus establishment do you frequent more than any other?
Dan the Baker! Dan is my fiancé, however I would go there all the time even if he wasn’t! I am obsessed with their Lox Bagel, they have amazing specialty coffee drinks, and their Cruffin rotation is really inspiring! Plus I know everything is made with organic and high quality ingredients so I can feel a little better about the calorie intake!
What is your favorite locally made product?
Palo Santo Spray by Under Aurora! I keep it in my car so I can smell it all the time! It’s glorious!
What is your adult beverage of choice?
A Mezcal Negroni! It’s hard to find them but when they’re made right they’re SO refreshing!
Can you share your go-to recipe to make for dinner at home?
Our go-to is roasted chicken. We get an organic chicken from the grocery store and stuff lots of herbs and garlic under the skin. We lay tons of carrots, onion, celery, button mushrooms, and fingerling potatoes underneath, with lots of salt and pepper, a couple of whole heads of garlic with the tops cut off, and squeeze lemon juice over them. Then we make a rub out of salt, pepper, lemon rind, paprika, and olive oil and rub the chicken down. We put the chicken on a rack over the veggies in a deep pan and cook until the skin is nice and crispy. The veggies get caramelized and are so incredibly flavorful, the dish is simple, delicious, and pretty healthy.
Do you have a local charity or community organization that you would like to promote?
There are so many amazing ones, but right now a lot of my focus is on Planned Parenthood. I am a huge believer in women having the right to self-determine what they do with their bodies and I believe everyone should have access to good healthcare. I support them personally and we often have gatherings at the shop for people to learn more about the organization, and we do the Columbus Flea as well which gives a large portion of their profits to Planned Parenthood.
Do you have any fun hobbies or talents, other than making wonderful pies?
I play the banjo! I don’t have much time for it anymore, but I love to pull it out and play for hours, it’s very relaxing.
You recently expanded to selling your treats at the Dublin Farmers Market and were also a featured baker at Flavored Nation. Can you tell us more about what’s next for Dough Mama?
We’re hoping to do more markets. It’s so fun to connect with customers from other areas face-to-face! I also love connecting with local growers and makers who are also selling at the market. That’s how we source a lot of our ingredients. Collaboration and community are so important! Also, in the spring we will be opening for dinner! It’s a huge undertaking so we’re really taking our time, but we can’t wait for everyone to try all of our new dishes!
Don’t forget to stay tuned for Dough Mama’s dinner service announcement, and in the meantime, head over to Clintonville for scones, sweets, and avocados galore.