If you love quirky party food, or are looking for inventive ideas to brighten up your next event, you’re in for a real treat, with UK company Kupkase.
Based in Streatham, south London, and in business since 2013, Kasey Klarke, founder of Kupkase, has been passionate about cake all her life. She lives, breathes and bakes cakes, from cupcakes to layer cakes and more. She even studied cake-making at a unique art school in Canada – how’s that for total commitment!
And her cakes are turning heads in major ways. Just in the last couple of years, Kupkase has been honored with the following awards:
**KUPKASE: SHORTLISTED – THE BAKING INDUSTRY AWARDS ‘RISING STAR’ 2014’**
**KUPKASE: HIGHLY COMMENDED BEST SMALL ENTREPRENEUR, STREATHAM BUSINESS AWARDS 2014**
**KUPKASE: PROUD FINALIST, 2013 NATIONAL CUPCAKE AWARDS **
Taking time out from her schedule, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kasey for Partycurrent.com. Below you’ll discover the roots of her passion, how she goes about creating her extraordinary products, the types of cakes she makes, and why even your workplace can’t live without her.
Hi Kasey, thanks so much for doing this interview. So what’s your first memory or personal experience with cupcakes?
Well, cake has been such a big part of my life it’s hard to filter it down to that very first moment. I think it has to be making fairy cakes with my mom as a holiday pastime when I was small. I would make the cakes and my sister would make the pastries (mince pies were her forte).
My mom was always pottering in the kitchen, whipping up something or other, and actually used to teach baking in one of my classes at school. She has given up the kitchen now though, and leaves the baking to me.
You studied at the Bonnie Gordon College of Confectionary Arts in Canada. What was the turning point in you where you decided to make cupcakes your career?
I had always wanted to run my own business, I just didn’t know what in.
Then one day at an office Christmas party, I was eating cupcakes a friend’s wife had brought in. They looked and tasted awesome. Always on the lookout for a great cake shop, I asked her for the address. She said she’d made them and had got all the stuff online to make them look shop-brought. “What!" I thought, “That’s it. I’m going online and getting my cakes out there."
After making cakes for friends, family and workmates, I felt I had hit on something I was willing to work my ass off for, change my life for and go without sleep for.
It wasn’t a major plan. One day I just said “this is what I want to do. Now, how do I do it?" and went for it. I’m not restricted to cupcakes by the way; I also make layer cakes, occasion cakes and made my Mothers wedding cake when she re-married. I learned loads from the University of YouTube and was desperate to get better and really do this cake thing. That’s when I signed up to train at Bonnie Gordon’s College.
Can you briefly describe your process? What are the most delicate or difficult parts?
On my website I offer a collection of popular design layer cakes which take on average half a day to complete from scratch, but nothing about cake is brief! Just recently I made a wedding cake covered in very delicate, handmade sugar roses. I crafted each petal individually – it took all day to make only 20 roses…… then I had to color them!
Actually baking the cake is my joy. I love working with ingredients and nailing the flavor I’m looking for; it’s also the swiftest part of the process. It’s the decorations which take the time and these are the most important aspect as they show your personality, creativity and skill and set you apart. They’re also the client’s favourite bit as it’s the details which make the cake unique and personal.
Custom design cakes can take anything from 3 days to a week and beyond to complete so being prepared and organised is imperative. I’m always flicking through fashion and design magazines for inspiration, even furniture magazines and sites online, and wondering “how can I turn that into cake?" There is so much to digest and make use of creatively.
Running a business in cake design does not come easy to me. It is stressful, but I love the challenge and more than that I love adding to other people’s lives.
I love seeing a customer’s face light up when they see the cake and light up again when they eat it.
It’s very satisfying and totally worth the effort it takes to deliver great cake. Good cake takes time and a lot of energy; it really is art you can eat.
What’s the most unusual or weirdest design you’ve been commissioned to make?
Without doubt that award goes to the ‘Hens’ who love a penis cake. I pride myself on making classy cakes even if it’s an intimate body part, so if you want a gold coloured penis or bejeweled vagina that you can eat… Kupkase is your gal!
Which is the most popular of your cakes? And why?
That has to be the signature ‘BOB’ Kake. It’s completely gold with the look of dripping chocolate ganache which features big, gold glitter letters on the top. I first made it for an ex-rugby star whose girlfriend wanted to gift him something special without hitting the jewelers, and I came up with this idea and named the cake after him.
He came to visit me a few weeks later to say thank you because he loved it so much. I felt like I was meeting a celebrity, “OMG. It’s Bob!" I screamed before posing for pictures. He must have thought I was nuts.
You also do cakes for work. Can you tell us more about this?
Yes. I offer Office Pop-Up Luxe (pictured right), a cupcake pop-up station which can be ordered for the office as a fun treat. It’s great for Christmas parties or celebrating special projects or just ‘cause it’s Friday.
It’s not an ordinary cupcake station though – each person gets to create their cake on demand. They choose how they want their cake to be and it is put together and decorated for them on the spot. I think of it as an interactive, cupcake event.
I also offer a bespoke cupcake subscription service for the office called Be The Worlds Best Boss which is designed to boost morale and productivity and demonstrate appreciation in the workplace.
I started Kupkase as a hobby whilst working in an office and whenever I brought cakes in, and it totally changed the vibe and energy for the day. This experience encouraged me to create products especially for the workplace. When people are happy they deliver their best work and great cake makes people beam with happiness.
You offer many types of cupcakes – from the KK Specials to the Layer Kake to the Kakepots. Can you briefly explain the differences between them?
Sure. Kupkase is known for its Kupkakes and bite-size Mini Kupkakes which people love, because the frosting is rich and creamy and not too sweet so the cake is enjoyed to the last bite.
The Layer Kakes are great for birthday cakes or other celebrations; triple layers of various flavoured sponges and creams when you need great cake to go a long way.
If it’s sweet I love it, so I created KK Specials which is home to other treats like brownie platters, alcohol-filled chocolate covered strawberries, cookies, etc.
We do novelty cakes and wedding cakes also and my favourite pet project the Kake Pots – indulgent, individual cake desserts; layers of cake, cream cheese, fruit compotes and crunchy biscuit arranged beautifully in a re-useable WECK jar.
These can be popped in the post and mailed to far away friends or clients or kept as a special treat for yourself. They are cake luxury personified all in a little pot; I just love the Kake Pots. My goal is to get them on the shelves of the big foodhalls and supermarkets one day, mark my words.
What would you need from a customer if they came to you tomorrow wanting to order your cakes?
You can come to Kupkase with as little as “I need a cake for 6-8 people" and we go from there.
It’s always good to have an idea of your budget so we can keep the ideas on track to suit you, other than that the world is your oyster. But, don’t come the day before saying you want a cake in the shape of a boat ‘cause that will just lead to tears – yours not mine.
How early would they need to make that order?
For Kupkakes, Kake Pots and Layer Kakes at least 2 days before to be sure of getting your order filled. For novelty or celebration cakes a week to 2 weeks notice and for big cakes and wedding cakes at least a month to get your order filled.
Finally, for any cake lovers out there who are not yet cupcake lovers, do you have any parting words?
You need to try a Kupkase Kupkake.
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Thanks again, Kasey, for giving us an amazing glimpse into your world of cakes.
If you’d like to know more about how Kasey and Kupkase can help you with your next event, be sure to check out her website www.kupkase.com. Please note, Kasey can only accept orders within the UK at present.
You can contact Kasey at kakes[at]kupkase[dot]com, and 020 8769 0184. You can also follow her on Twitter @kupkase.