YUMMY IN MY TUMMY — Kelly's Kreations has baked many whimsical cupcakes and cookies.
SPRINGVILLE — Kelly Loftus of Springville graduated from Alfred State College in 2010 with a degree in baking production and management, a business plan for a bakery, the skills to make it happen and a love for creating cakes. What she did not have was the desire to spend all of her waking hours in a bakery, making the same product over and over.
A BIT OF WHIMSY — Cute cupcakes, like the Elmos pictured above, have been created for Kelly’s Kreations’ customers.
“I worked at Tops [Markets] for a little more than a year, where I would basically make the stuff you see in the case. It got really tedious, doing the same thing over and over. I decided I didn’t want to do that every day [and] that I would rather work somewhere else during the week and just do this on the weekends, so I can enjoy it,” Loftus explained.
She took the name, pricing and ideas from the business plan she had created in college and set up Kelly’s Kreations: a cake, cupcake and cookie-creating initiative she runs out of her home on her own time.
“When I was at Alfred State, we had to do a business plan, including pricing out equipment, planning a menu and everything that would go into opening a bakery,” she said, when describing where she got the idea. “We worked on it slowly throughout the year and the whole thing probably took about 2 – 3 months to get together.”
Loftus said she would like to run Kelly’s Kreations as a business someday, but that she currently enjoys working on her own schedule, as well as the cost-effectiveness of working from home on a smaller scale.
“[When starting a full-scale bakery business] you need a lot of equipment. There are a lot of different mixers, a sheeter for fondant, cake pans, tips, decorative bags. Candy gets expensive, too. It depends on whether you want to do just desserts or a full-out bakery,” she explained. “When I was designing mine, it came in [at more than $188,000]. That’s as much as a house! Everybody says they want to open a business, and then they try and fail. I think that’s why [Alfred State] had us do the business project: so we would know what we’re getting into.”
Loftus said her cousin, who runs a wedding cake business, offers her a lot of tips and tricks for pricing, design and the day-to-day battles of working with cake, fondant and customers. In addition to her cousin’s advice, Loftus said her degree gave her a strong foundation of skills, both in the kitchen and the business, as a whole.
“We learned about different kinds of breads, cookies, brownies and baked goods. We also did rotations through the dough bench, as oven-tender, [making] desserts for the cafeteria, faculty desserts, fine dining desserts. Those were hard, because we had to decide what to put on top and what sauces to go with them; they were very labor-intensive. We also did carved cakes, sanitation, food and service,” she said.
“One week, we had to go over to the culinary side and the culinary students had to come over and do baking. Not a lot of people walked away from that with a smile on their faces. I didn’t mind it, because I like to cook, too.”
CAKE CREATIONS — Kelly’s Kreations can prepare wedding cakes to suit couples’ ideas and themes.
Although Loftus creates cookies, birthday, graduation, wedding and special occasion cakes and cupcakes, she said her favorite projects are wedding cakes.
“They take a lot of time [and] a lot of patience. A lot of people want fondant now, which is not the easiest material to work with. They didn’t teach us how to do it in school, so I had to teach myself,” she said.
“Stacking tiers is the hardest, making sure they’re even and everything. I did one wedding cake in October that had a lot of vines and leaves and stuff. That was difficult.
“For weddings, if the wedding is on a Saturday, I’ll start baking on Thursday, do the buttercream on a Friday and frost and decorate it at the event. It’s easier that way, because then it doesn’t fall apart.”
The entire process starts when Loftus first meets with a client to discuss designs, which she said can be as cooperative as the customer prefers.
“If they don’t have ideas, I can throw out an idea and talk to them about designs and colors; things like that. A lot of the time, they know what they want, so it’s just a matter of working together to make it happen,” she said.
“I use YouTube™ a lot. I try to think back on what I’ve done before, what needs to be done and figure it out from there. I can do pretty much anything, because if I don’t know how to do it already, I just figure it out,” she said, when describing where her ideas come from. “If you don’t know how to do something, you have to use your resources to learn how to do it.”
GAME ON — Kelly Loftus created this X-box cake for her boyfriend’s 25th birthday. She said he was excited by his game-shaped confection. Photos submitted by Loftus.
Loftus’ designs have ranged from the whimsical to classic, including an Xbox® cake she made to surprise her boyfriend, Andy Wiedeman, for his 25th birthday.
“That was hard, because nobody had ever done it before, so I had to make it up, as I went along. I had to trace the Xbox to get the right shape. There was a lot of lying [so he wouldn’t know] I was working on his cake,” she said, with a laugh.
“I did a Perreault cake for my dad in 2009. That was the first time I had ever worked with fondant, which was interesting. The Sabres’ logo was tricky: I had to trace the drawing, cut it out and then cut the fondant around it.
“I don’t like working with fondant. On [warm days] it would melt and the colors would start to run. Fondant can’t go in the refrigerator to chill because, once it’s exposed to moisture, it runs. People don’t know about that, necessarily,” Loftus explained.
As a cake design connoisseur, she said she also has to keep herself from critiquing the desserts she encounters in everyday life.
“It’s hard going to weddings. I always pick apart other people’s cakes, since I know what to look for,” she said.
In addition to keeping her technical skills sharp, Loftus also has to stay on top of the business end of Kelly’s Kreations.
“Each year, the trend changes. I try to keep up with the changes. Sometimes, people are really into cheesecakes and cupcakes have been really popular for the past couple of years. I stay updated on what customers want [and I] watch the food network a lot,” she said.
“When I’m pricing out cakes, I take into account the price of ingredients and labor, for how long it’s going to take. Fondant costs more. Buttercream and filling costs more. What they want determines how much it’s going to cost,” she said, noting that wedding cakes are priced per slice.
Wiedeman supports her culinary aspirations, serving as occasional taste-tester, according to Loftus.
“It’s pretty bad when you have your boyfriend talking about crumb coating and actually knowing what that means,” she noted.
Loftus said that, in her personal life, she prefers ice cream instead of cake, as a result of the hours she spends with cake and frosting.
“After you’ve been working with it, the last thing you want to do is eat it,” she said, with a laugh. “So when I go to a wedding and they ask if I want some cake, I’m like, ‘No thanks!’”
Kelly’s Kreations can be found on Facebook, and can be reached at 725-5114.