[Interview] Behind the Scenes at BCAKENY
Custom cakes are more in demand now, than ever before. Lets just face it, people always want the next best thing and if they have the funds to drop, why not?! I had the pleasure to interview Miriam Milord, the owner of BCAKENY. We touched on topics like owning a custom cake business in NYC to all of the in betweens that make her brand, the most sought-after by celebrity clients to local Brooklynites.
How did you get into the baking industry?
I planned a baby shower for a friend and couldn’t really afford a custom cake because it was so expensive and not in my budget. So, I resorted to YouTube. I tried to figure things out myself and it worked! At the party, everyone was asking – where did you buy that cake?
So, initially did you use fondant?
Yes. It was basically trial and error. I studied Art in school. I had a strong interest in sculptures and things of that sort. For me, experimenting with fondant was just another medium with minor limitations. I went from clay to sugar paste.
How does your German background influence your style and taste as cake designer?
My mom is German and my dad is from Ghana. My background influences my craft, in regards to taste. We definitely use less sugar. European pastries are not as sweet, as classic American buttercream frostings.
How many pounds of butter on an average, do you use per week?
Probably, like 200 lbs per week. We spend a lot of money on butter. Butter is very expensive, especially high quality sweet cream. People always wonder, why custom cakes are more money than others. We definitely don’t use the type of butter that you can buy at your local supermarkets. If you cut costs and take shortcuts the taste is noticeably different.
How many cake flavors and frostings, do you offer?
We offer about ten flavors, but you can also customize desired flavors, as well. If you want your cake to taste like an apple martini, we can come up with something.
Have you ever tried experimenting with coconut water instead of regular water?
Sure. We’ve pretty much experimented with everything, at this point. Whenever, there’s a new liquor, we try it. We have even gone to the extent of adding bacon.
What hit you to consider opening up shop in Brooklyn? Why not, Manhattan?
I live in Brooklyn. Once, you live in Brooklyn, you sorta fall in love with the borough. You adopt the hometown feeling and love for your neighborhood. We stayed in the City, for about six months while this place was being renovated. I, honestly really didn’t like the everyday commute and high rent prices. Plus, most of our clients live in Brooklyn.
How is it working with celebrity clientele? Are they super picky, hands-on or does their assistants work directly with you?
It depends. Most of the time, high-profile clients have an issue with time. We’re a small shop, so we usually require four weeks advance notice. Industry clients need cakes on short notice or for instant gratification that sometimes isn’t possible to meet. We try our best to make it work. They’re not necessarily pickier than others, but there’s a certain level of pressure knowing thousands of people will see your work at one event. However, regardless of budget, every client wants their cake to be perfect.
Have you ever experienced a cake disaster while in transit?
Yea, of course! Things break, but nothing to the point that can’t be fixable. I’m not, the type of person to freak out. We really try to avoid accidents by being very diligent and detailed-oriented. If it doesn’t work, we go the safe route. Worse case scenario, we improvise to the best of our ability. Even, if it means rearranging a flower to hide a crack.
How many artists are on your team? And, what attributes do you look for in an artist aside from talent?
Five, in total. Initially, we have the potential artist come in on a preliminary basis to decorate and shape things. I look for artists with an artsy background versus a culinary background. The culinary aspect can be learned, but you have to be artistically inclined. Then, we can pretty much mold you into experienced cake decorators. Some are experienced joining the team, while others learn the craft at each level.
How many artists work on a project at a given time?
Custom cakes are made in steps. I would say 3-4 artists per project. We delegate tasks according to individual strengths.
What’s the most requested type of cake?
For women, the biggest sellers are fashion cakes. For kids, cars and Disney cartoon characters. Men love luxury cars, watches, and gadgets.
What’s the price range for a custom cake? And, how much have you charged for the most expensive?
The general price range is $300–$800. Most of our clients are middle class people that work hard for what they want. We’ve sold a cake that cost over $5k. It took over 2 weeks to make, so considering the time, we probably didn’t make much from it.
Is it hard to pull off the client’s vision without being off a notch in design?
We research all aspects of a theme. We spend a lot of time figuring out layers, textures, and proportion. We try our best at BCAKENY to create a masterpiece close to the original form.
702 Washington Avenue, Brooklyn, NY, 11238