By Ingrid Schnader
This holiday season, Homewood resident Katie Cornutt is going to be busy making cinnamon rolls.
She isn’t making them for herself, though. She’s making them for her new business, called Rolls, which she started this past March.
The recipe is from her grandmother, who used to live in Fairfield Glade, Tennessee. Cornutt would drive up there, especially during the holiday season, and bake with her grandmother.
Together, they baked not only cinnamon rolls, but everything. Cornutt baked with her mom, too.
“She’s the one who instilled in me (that), all of the artificial junk, if you can avoid it, avoid it,” she said. “We always had some sort of dessert, pastry or some sweet growing up.”
Her mother has since passed away, but Cornutt carried on that legacy when she had her first son, Lennon, who’s 10 years old now. He loves all of his mom’s cooking, but he always asks specifically for her to make cinnamon rolls.
“And I would share them with our neighbors because it (the recipe) would make so many,” she said. “One day, one of my neighbors said, ‘You should sell these.’”
That was in February. Within a month, Cornutt had an Instagram page for her business and a license to cook from her home under the Cottage Food Law. It took off.
“It’s all homemade,” she said. “There’s no preservatives. So that’s how I market it – it’s just an old-timey recipe.”
Cornutt laughed and said the recipe was so easy that “a monkey could do it.” But it takes time – three hours per batch.
To order, you can check her availability calendar on Instagram and fill out a form with your order. But if you wanted Cornutt’s rolls in time for the holiday season, you’re too late. She’s sold out through December.
Once customers have secured a time slot, they can pick up a frozen pan from Cornutt’s outdoor freezer, a baked pan from inside her home or on her doorstep, or Cornutt will deliver them herself.
“And a lot of people give them as gifts, so I’ll deliver them to your friend’s house for their birthday as a surprise, or if someone just had surgery,” she said. “I love that part of it. I feel like it just brings out the good in people. It’s a real inexpensive price point for a happy, and it can go a long way, even though it’s food.”
Telling Lyla’s Story
Before Cornutt was a professional cinnamon roll baker, she was a real estate agent with two kids. There’s Lennon and then there’s Caroline, who’s 7. When she got pregnant with Lyla, who’s now 2, everything changed.
“I found out at 22 weeks pregnant, the second anatomy scan they found it,” she said. “My doctor came in and was crying.”
Her doctor, who Cornutt has known for many years, told her that she thought Lyla had hypoplastic left heart syndrome. She explained that one of her ventricles was not formed.
Cornutt was moved to a high-risk part of the hospital and started taking medicine to keep Lyla’s airways open. Lyla had heart surgery at 6 days, then she had another heart surgery at two months. Eventually she’ll need a heart transplant.
“These kids didn’t make it 15 years ago,” Cornutt said. “These surgeries didn’t exist.”
Developmentally, Lyla is right on schedule. Cornutt said she went to the cardiologist a couple of weeks ago, and he told her that Lyla is one of the best patients he has ever seen. But Cornutt still had to make many changes in her life once she had a special needs child.
“She could catch anything,” she said. “Her immune system is so far down. … Even going to Target during the flu season – she can’t do that. Even the smallest common cold could put her in heart failure.”
So Cornutt quit her job in real estate. Working from home selling cinnamon rolls has been the perfect fit for them.
“This business makes it work,” she said. “It makes people come to me, or I deliver to them and she rides in her car seat, watches the iPad and hangs out.”
One benefit of working in the Homewood community is being able to tell Lyla’s story, she said.
“There’s this whole community of people who don’t talk about it. It’s just one of those things that’s not widely talked about. So that’s been neat, to be able to open conversation about that kind of thing over cinnamon rolls. It links us together.”
Cornutt said she hopes to someday sell her cinnamon rolls online and ship them to customers, but online sales are not currently allowed under the Cottage Food Law.
“So I’m in the beginning stages of looking for a little kitchen I could rent,” she said. “I really feel like there’s a huge market for online sales to ship them out.”
But no matter what happens in the future, Cornutt said it’s important to her to keep her operation in Homewood.
“I appreciate all of the support from the community,” she said. “And I have a ton of repeat customers.”
For more information and to place future orders, follow @rolls.homewood on Instagram.