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January 13, 2017

Icing on the Cake

One baker creates a big deal in little cakes

Story by Gail Greenwood Ayres | Photos by Molly Bold

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In March of 2014, Brittany Figg-Case, opened the doors of caKecaKes, beginning her business with what most entrepreneurs only dream of — a loyal customer base, a chic new shop and no debt.

A longtime bartender at the Quinault Beach Casino where her husband, Anthony works as the executive chef, Figg-Case’s evolution from someone who occasionally brought homemade treats for her co-workers, to the owner of a burgeoning business in a trendy shop was quite a ride.

“Starting a new business is not for the faint of heart,” says the fresh-faced brunette with a remembering smile.

Now 31 years old, she reflects that owning a bakery hadn’t been anywhere on her radar screen. She had worked at the casino for 12 years and was taking college classes with the goal of becoming a nurse.

But with the encouragement from others that her baked goods were good enough to sell, Figg-Case decided to start a Facebook page and let people know she was available to bake cakes.

As her reputation for delicious and delightfully decorated cakes, cupcakes and cookies grew, so did her working hours. For a while, she would go to work at the casino Friday night and come home from bartending at 2 a.m. then spend from 2 to 6 a.m. Saturday decorating cakes before getting a few hours of sleep. Then back up at noon to begin her 2:30 p.m. shift on Sunday.

The long hours were helpful in building her skills and clientele, but difficult on family life with little time to spend with their son Kingston, now 8. (He’s the reason for the bakery’s name. “Cakecakes” was his way of saying cupcakes when he was young and the capital K’s in the name are also a nod to him.)

But after looking into the possibility of obtaining a cottage food license, Figg-Case decided working at home was too difficult. “I would procrastinate, that’s part of the reason I stayed up so late at nights.”

So, she began saving money and slowly collecting equipment to someday make her hobby into a real business. Her first purchase: a $1,000 commercial refrigerator from Craigslist. Her finds included five second-hand mixers that she now uses every day.

With their house jammed with equipment, the couple decided it was time to make a decision. They decided the time was right to build a real business and began looking for a place to house the bakery. They were thrilled when they found the space at 107 E. Wishkah St. in Aberdeen.

However, despite their careful work and planning, life happens. They signed the lease on June 30 and found out she was expecting on July 3.

From hand scraping layers of linoleum and carpeting to painting the chevron décor, they spent months tearing down and building up the inside of the space.

“Anthony is amazing. Not only has he been a tremendous support, he knows exactly what I needed in a commercial kitchen and he can do anything. He’s really a jack of all trades,” Figg-Case said.

The decision to do the construction work themselves meant Figg-Case had to open the business a lot later than she had hoped, but that was a small price to begin with no debt.

After nine months of great expectations, a new store and their daughter Sailor were born within days of each other.

Now two years later both are healthy and growing.

“My favorite part of this business is seeing people’s reactions when I show them their cake or they try a cupcake,” she said.

In addition to local acclaim, CaKecaKes earned kudos in the 2015 King 5 Best of Washington contest. It ranked first for Best Bakery, fourth for Best Wedding Cakes and fifth for Best Cupcakes in all of Western Washington.

The local community is also clearly sweet on the bakery, which has been welcomed with open arms and satisfied stomachs. (Perhaps her penchant for delivering any unsold items at the end of the day to neighboring shop keepers, the fire department, police department or mission, has something to do with it.)

An absolute stickler for freshness, Figg-Case won’t sell day-old items, so she donates them — but often there aren’t any to give away because she frequently sells out

In fact, the stores’ hours are from noon to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, or until sold out. (However, she can make arrangements to have pre-ordered items picked up earlier.)

Totally self-taught, Figg-Case’s recipes are a combination of her grandmother’s and others’ recipes she has tweaked.

“My chocolate cake can’t be beat. It’s the way I cook it,” she said, explaining how she alters the temperature at a key point in the baking.

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She uses 11 kinds of cake, including vanilla-almond, lemon, banana, coconut, carrot and strawberry swirl, and then inserts one of more than five flavors of filling. Next she tops with one of her 22 types of buttercream frosting, including raspberry, salted caramel, peanut butter, mocha, Nutella, cream cheese and white chocolate.

And if that weren’t enough, she often tops the frosting with coconut, crushed candy bars, cereal, nuts, etc.

The possibilities are virtually endless and Figg-Case has found that her years of combining interesting flavors as a bartender have served her well.

The $2.75 a cupcake or $25 for a dozen, reflects the quality of the ingredients — only butter, real Dutch processed cocoa powder, sour cream, Greek yogurt, for instance — no shortening or shortcuts.

In addition to cakes and cupcakes, she sells cakepops, brownies and 11 different kinds of cookies That includes her best seller “the Quarter Pounder,” featuring chocolate and white chocolate marshmallow, and weighing in at — you guessed it — one-quarter pound for $2.25. She also takes orders for cheesecakes, pies and cinnamon rolls.

And while Figg-Case makes it clear that hers is not an allergen-free establishment, she tries to keep some gluten-free options such as French Macaroons or Krispy Treats in her glass Figg-Case and will make gluten-free cakes to order.

In addition, sometimes when the nearby Rediviva restaurant caters a large function, it includes her desserts. Also, she’s already talking with Dan Malvini, about supplying some desserts to Cortese’s Italian Ristorante on Heron Street.

But for now it’s her cakes that bring in the bulk of her bottom line. And nowadays people seem to have lots of occasions to eat them. In addition to the wedding, birthday, anniversary, graduation, retirement and bridal and baby shower cakes, she’s also often asked to bake for a gender reveal party or a television premier.

“I have made so many Walking Dead cakes,” she said with a laugh.

With the bakery’s growing popularity, it’s helpful that cake decorating is among her husband’s many talents and that she’s also recently hired her best friend, Jacklyn Madison.

“Someday, I’d like to be that hometown bakery that everyone remembers. I plan on doing this for a long time,” she said.

Categories

Dine, Restaurants