‘My Dream Is Now True’: Centralia’s Food Network Cookie Champion Opens New Bakery Downtown


The Saturday opening of the new Sweet Dough Cookie Co. bakery on Main Street in Centralia was truly grand, drawing in over 400 transactions.

Business founder and owner Ashlee Shirer spent 64 hours in the kitchen Monday to Friday the week prior preparing for the ceremony, creating a total of 109 dozen of her signature sugar cookies to sell.

An hour and a half after the ribbon cutting Saturday, she was already sold out.

Shirer made headlines in the last two years for her appearances on the Food Network show “Christmas Cookie Challenge,” where she twice won $10,000 for her expertly baked and decorated cookies. She’s since been running a custom-order bakery through her website, selling by the dozens to people across the country for weddings, bridal showers, birthdays and other events. Now with the opening of her storefront, she will put the custom order business on hold as she builds up the brick-and-mortar presence and hires help.

“I've been baking since I was 15 years old. On my Facebook memories (from) eight years ago, it popped up that I was asking for investors because I wanted to open up a bakery,” Shirer said. “And as that popped up, I was in the process of getting all of the inspections done the week of opening my own bakery without investors. And I mean, I can't believe that my dream is now true.”

The 9 a.m. ribbon-cutting was set up by local consulting firm Rock Street Station. Shirer had to put up her “Sorry, we're sold out. Thank you so much for stopping by” sign by 10:30 a.m., but she stayed at the location and served samples to visitors for another hour and a half following.

“I know a lot of people were upset that I sold that fast, but I'm only a one woman show, so I made as much as my hands could possibly make,” Shirer said. “I need to hire help so that that doesn't happen again. But once I get the swing of things going, I'll also be adding in my custom orders that I used to be doing.”

The current plan is to open the Sweet Dough Cookie Co. bakery every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and sell the cookies Shirer prepared during the week. On Friday nights, the space will hold cookie decorating classes that can be booked online.

“Teaching is my jam,” she said, adding later: “I will probably set the theme. Let’s say, if I did a class next week for Valentine’s Day it would be like, red and pink and hearts. For springtime, I’d do a watering can and a flower. Just designs that I know people that have never decorated a cookie before can accomplish.”

Up to 10 tickets will be sold for each decorating class, and she will hold a few each Friday at a cost of $45 per ticket. Tickets will soon be available for purchase at https://sweetdoughcookieco.com/.

Standing under a pink balloon arch on Saturday with giant ribbon-cutting scissors, Shirer radiated joy. She was visited by Centralia Mayor Kelly Smith Johnston, along with hundreds of other guests, noting to The Chronicle it was the first time she’d ever met a mayor.

“I'm just looking forward to having this be a little destination spot here in Centralia. I pour my heart out into each cookie and I'm just so excited the community is excited that I'm here and they're so welcoming,” she said. “I just can't believe that my dream is now here in Centralia, Washington. And I just want to thank everyone that came on Saturday.”