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I have an addiction to cake batter. This addiction started when I was a kid and my mom let me lick the beaters when she finished mixing up a cake. The only thing better than batter is eating a cupcake still warm from the oven. So it was no wonder that my eye went straight to the chocolate cupcakes at Cory Block Bakery. Between the plump, decadent cupcakes and the seductive smell of fresh bread, I already was quite fond of Cory Block Bakery when I first stepped into the building.

Cory Block is a relatively new kid in Great Falls, having opened in May 2017. The name comes from the fact that it is located in a renovated space on Fifth Street that originally was part of the Cory Block Hotel, which opened in 1894. One wall of the bakery is a garage-sized glass door, opened in the summer, no doubt to tempt passersby with the smell of freshly baked sourdough.

A side room with additional seating has become a favorite for college kids to hang out and study. Other groups have found this as a peaceful and cozy place to gather and talk life. Enbär, a new craft cocktail bar, has recently opened at the far end of the side room, and shares the seating with Cory Block. Future plans call for collaboration between the two entities.

Alyssa Storrusten is the general manager of the bakery and she describes herself as a “cake snob.” Originally from Great Falls, she headed north to Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada, for formal training at culinary school, then worked for five years at the upscale Lake Louise Hotel before returning back to her hometown. It’s clear she has found her dream job here at Cory Block, where she can experiment with all sorts of delicious fare, including soups, sandwiches and baked goods.

Storrusten's day starts early, at 3:30 a.m. Her husband Nick drops in early as well, before heading off to his “big boy job” as a banker. She gives him credit for being very creative with new ideas and names for her creations. “Don’t Go Bacon My Heart” is a clever name he has given to one of her sandwiches of the week, featuring bacon of course. For the start of 2018, he coined Storrusten's newest sandwich as “Never Been Gouda,” featuring ham, fontina and Gouda with honey mustard.

Mauri Novak, part owner of Cory Block Bakery, sings Storrusten's praises. He has found a manager whose imagination in the kitchen keeps Cory Block Bakery invigorated with new products and flavors on a weekly basis.

She likes to keep things “simple but beautiful,” with sparkles and sprinkles close at hand. Magic seems to bubble up in the kitchen, with the results being unique cake flavors, scrumptious sourdough perhaps enhanced with jalapeno and fontina, or a toasted cheese sandwich with blackberry jam that comes off the grill in a tasty shade of purple.

Storrusten said what makes her creations stand out from other bakeries is that her heart goes into all she creates in the kitchen. Lucky the customer who gets a little piece of her heart.

As much as possible, the bakery uses locally sourced products, including Morning Light Coffee Roasters, kamut grown near Great Falls, and Montana Flour and Grains out of Fort Benton. The owners of Cory Block understand the need to be part of a community that takes care of their own. Anything past prime with the baked goods is donated to local charities. Donated rolls and bread found their way to firefighters dealing with the fires of 2017.

The atmosphere at the bakery makes it a cozy place to linger. Whether it’s an early morning cup of Morning Light coffee served with a flaky croissant, or the longing for a comfort lunch of homemade soup and a sandwich, Cory Block fits the bill. Storresten is keen to accommodate the customers’ needs, from specialty breads to gluten-free products to wedding cakes. Cory Block’s Facebook page keeps everyone in the know on the specials of the week, as well as any events taking place at the bakery.

Oh, and about that cake batter I love, I have defied all those warnings about not eating raw batter and still treat myself occasionally. Old delicious habits die hard.

Donnie Sexton, who retired in 2016 from a long career with the Montana Office of Tourism, currently freelances as a travel writer and photographer, covering destinations around the world.

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TheLastBestPlates.com is a digital destination that serves up Montana's tasty food, travel and culture stories … one bite at a time.

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