At the end of last week’s mega-announcement in Chester County, S.C., heralding the arrival of mammoth tire-maker Giti, came praise for a small business also located there: Cake Couture.
Jessica Anderson Cook, the baker behind the business, says she was too distracted to hear the recognition. She was fresh off of nearly 40 hours of mixing, making and baking the 300-serving cake presented at the end of the press conference, designed to mimic Singapore-based Giti’s yellow and black logo.
“I was so nervous, I really wasn’t paying attention. Just because it was so important,” says Cook, 27, who bakes out of her home. S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley and Singapore’s Ambassador to the U.S. Ashok Kumar Mipuri were among the attendees.
“It was just a big deal. Everybody wants to put their best foot forward.”
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Her cake featured Cook’s favorite flavor combination: white almond sour cream with lemon curd filling. Encircling the creation was an edible tire, made from her great-grandmother’s pound cake recipe. Cook whipped up 48 pounds of icing, just to be sure.
She invested so much into getting the details right that even the tread pattern on the tire matched the one on display at the news conference. Her husband, Keith, carved the rim out of white chocolate.
“Everything on the cake was edible, every single bite. … He even put a little elephant on the valve stem,” says Cook, referring to the animal in Giti’s logo.
All that wasn’t a coincidence, since Cook says she was asked a month ago to create the cake in time for the June 16 announcement. She had to sign a nondisclosure form since Chester County officials kept the jobs-recruitment project hush-hush until the formal unveiling.
Locally, Cook has built a name for her cake-making business, although things didn’t start off that way. After Cook was laid off in 2009, Cook’s aunt encouraged her to bake cakes from home. She took a decorating class at the local Michaels arts & crafts.
She started off small, but says every time she baked for a wedding or birthday or shower, “I’d get five referrals from it.”
She credits South Carolina’s cottage food laws, designed to help home bakers start their businesses and get tax write-offs for using their space, with helping her grow her business – especially with two small children at home. Her cakes can range from $50 to $1,500.
After her Giti cake made the rounds (including pieces sent to the sheriff’s department and local businesses), Cook says she started fielding even more work requests. And getting even more attention.
“This morning, shopping for my son’s birthday, they see my car with the cake logo on the side. … ‘Hey, you’re the one that did the cake.’ ”