Home bakers find business sweet spot
November 13, 2020
There may not be any bakeries left in Cloquet, but that doesn't mean there aren't some fabulous bakers around.
"The gooey salted caramel center wrapped up in the moist chocolate cake with caramel buttercream is such a powerhouse of flavor," home baker Jazmyn Brown said as she described the flavor of her Snickers cupcake to her followers on her Facebook page.
Brown offers a variety of cupcake flavors in her Chocolate Lovers Box including Snickers, Triple Chocolate and Chocolate Oreo.
"There are definitely a lot of chocolate lovers in town," Brown said.
Brown, 30, opened September Sweets out of her Cloquet home in mid-September. She said she began baking brownies, cupcakes and other treats for her grandma when she went to visit as a child.
Becca Center, 30, has a longer history of working out of her home. She began baking treats for family and friends about 14 years ago, then opened Crumbles out of her Cloquet home with the encouragement of her husband, Sam, about five years ago. She said she is amazed at how quickly her business grew.
Both bakers are self-taught and both admit to watching many hours of the Great British Bake Off TV show. The show features amateur bakers who compete against each other for several episodes, according to the website.
"I like the show because it is more about flavors and technique," Brown said. She also researches and watches hours of videos to improve her baking and decorating skills.
Both bakers say they enjoy creative outlets.
"I enjoy being creative and artsy," Center said. "It's very relaxing for me." She said she likes to channel her creative energy and come up with fun ideas for customers.
Center specializes in cakes, cupcakes and macarons. She said she enjoys experimenting with different flavors. Her favorite flavors are chocolate mint truffle and espresso with hazelnut filling.
"I love making wedding cakes and unicorn cakes," said Center. She said she averages five or six cakes a week.
"I have a lot of gender reveal cakes, those are fun," Center said.
Brown originally planned to sell both cakes and cupcakes, but her cupcake sales took off immediately.
"When I started, I didn't expect to be so busy," Brown said.
Her best sellers are Apple Butter, S'mores and Snickers cupcakes.
"The Pumpkin Spice Maple Toffee was amazing," said Jenny Rackliffe, after she sampled the cupcakes at a Young Life banquet at Journey Christian Church in October.
The bakers put in long hours.
"It's so much more than I thought it was going to be," said Brown. She said a typical day starts around 8 a.m. and ends around 9 or 10 p.m. five to seven days a week.
Center asks clients to place an order two weeks in advance when possible.
"I take a lot of pride in my work and want customers to be happy," Center said.
Both bakers are registered with the Minnesota Department of Health under the Minnesota Cottage Food Law, which requires an online training course and a label with a list of ingredients on every order per regulations.
Brown is currently taking orders for pies for Thanksgiving. Orders need to be in by Nov. 21 to be ready for pickup Nov. 25. To see the complete list of pies, visit the September Sweets Facebook page or call 1-417-987-3451.
Visit the Crumbles Facebook page to see what Center has to offer. Basic cupcakes are $2 each. The base price for a 6-inch cake that serves 10 is $45.