JavaCupcake Note: This is the ninth post in the “Ask the Baker” series featuring interviews with bakers and bakery owners! Click here to see the complete list of bakers being interviewed. Check back every Tuesday for a new interview!
Please introduce yourself. Tell us a little bit about what you do in the cupcake world and how/when you got started.
Hi, I’m an American who grew up in Southern Virginia, has lived in 3 continents (NorthAmerica, Europe & Asia) and eaten at almost every cupcake place in between! Currently residing in the Netherlands (Holland), I started my cupcake business after becoming a stay-at-home mom who was craving good cupcakes. There are NO (other than my own) good cupcakes here in Holland! I was looking for something creative & lucrative to do with my spare time. “Alice in CAKEland” aka “AliceinCUPCAKEland” was born in October 2009…
(sorry i dont have any good photos of me!?!? ….booo! but here’s a good photo of my cupcakes and oven!)
Bakery Start-Up Questions
What was the biggest challenge in starting your bakery/baking business?
Setting up a website in both English & Dutch!
Any business tips you can share that has made your bakery a success?
Study your competitions carefully…find their weaknesses and don’t do the same.
How much time did you spend planning before you decided to take the steps to make your bakery a reality?
How much time does it take to run your business? More or less than you anticipated?
Definitely more! I eat, sleep, breath cupcakes….what to do next, things to improve along w/ the baking, social networking (twitter is worth every minute I spend on it), replying to potential customer emails and order taking etc….
What type of tools, gadgets, and gizmos are necessary for fantastic cupcake production?
Ah! There are 2 kitchen gadgets I would not live without …not sure I want to share my secrets though!
Recipe/Ingredients & Baking Questions
What do you consider to be the perfect cupcake? What flavors and textures would it have?
The cake should be moist, fluffy. The icing should be airy and light yet packed with flavor and its sweet all around!
How many times do you have to “re-do” a recipe before you get it right?
This varies. The icings I get them right after 3-4 attempts. My cake I’m still working on!….its yummy but I feel it could be better.
What is your favorite cupcake recipe?
My new deep dark chocolate cupcake i call “New Moon”……oooooowwww weee its SWEET!
How much is made from scratch and how much is purchased pre-made?
Oh its all from scratch!
What is the recipe for a foolproof cupcake batter? Just a perfect basic recipe that can be doctored with extras to suit any taste.
Yeah someone share that answer with me, please! I’m a perfectionist so each flavor has its own recipe….not really one flavor fits all kind of cupcakes here.
Where do you purchase all those fun different sprinkles you use to decorate your cupcakes with?
The good ol’ USA! (import them into the Netherlands!)
How do you get your cupcakes all the same size?
Very carefully! I need to establish more of a methodology to this but this is where my right brain takes over and I just eyeball it.
Do you have a Vegan Chocolate cupcake recipe?
Not yet but it’s in future plans!
Do you have a delicious recipe for a trans-fat-free cupcake?
To my knowledge, butter is a saturated fat. And trans-fat is not found in saturated fats only in monounsaturated or polyunsaturated (quoting wikipedia here). (Someone please correct me if I’m wrong!) Therefore, going back to the question, my cupcakes are trans-fat free! (Sorry not sharing the recipe)
What is the best cocoa to use?
That’s a secret!……hehehehhe
I love buttercream… what’s your favorite recipe for it?
Butter, sugar, and milk……then add the added flavor chocolate, berry juice etc….
How do you make the icing just the right sweetness?
Lots of milk.
How do you get great control of a pastry bag and make those mile high swirls of perfection on top of each cupcake?
Did you always have a passion for baking?
Yes but i had suppressed it thinking I’d never be successful at it.
What inspires you the most? Love of cupcakes or love of making things people enjoy?
I love making yummy, creative, pretty things….they happen to be cupcakes that makes people happy.
Where do you get new ideas for new cupcake and icing flavors? How do you come up with new, creative ideas for decorating cupcakes?
Researching what other people around the world are doing!
With the internet and easy availability of so many recipes and decorating ideas, how do you come up with new and unique recipes that someone else hasn’t already done?
Luckily there’s a huge gap in the cupcake market here in Europe which leaves everyone here with plenty of opportunity to bake & sell “new & unique” flavors.
What’s your favorite part of cupcakes?
How can you be around all that yummy and not eat it all up?
I do eat it all up! But i also drink lots of water, do bikram yoga and do not eat anything fried, do not eat bread or any other “bad” stuff. And I only eat good veggies/good foods after 6pm! It’s not what you eat, it’s how much you eat at what time! Eating a pizza at noon then staying active all day is probably better than eating a pizza then going to bed 3 hours later.
Would you bake me a cupcake that wouldn’t make me gain any weight please?
Yes, just eat it for breakfast and stay active the rest of the day!
Do you ever get tired of the site or smell of cupcakes?
Can I live in your kitchen and be your personal taste tester?
You’ll have to fight my husband for that position :)
All photos courtesy of Alice in Cakeland.