AT THE START OF EVERY YEAR, several people make resolutions about starting or sticking to their exercise regime, eating healthy foods, starting a new hobby and myriad others.
Michelle Batson, a baker and owner of Minimi Cakes, has resolved to improve on what she has been doing, making her cakes more outstanding and different.
“I want to be better than I am right now. I told my daughter I want to step up my game. I want people to see them and [say, ‘Wow’]. I see cakes on Pinterest and I want to get to that level; they’re so clean and nice,” she told EASY magazine.
“I started baking a while but I only got into it seriously about five years ago. At that time I wasn’t working so then I started to get serious about it, especially when people started talking about them,” she said.
Michelle’s mother used to bake and she did her own thing as well, baking salt bread and great cakes for her family. She then moved on to work at a bakery in Bay Street where she took over as head baker before moving on from Almond Beach’s pastry section.
“At the hotel I was taught through on-the-job training. Then, just to get the certificate I did basic pastries and desserts at PomMarine,” she said.
The baker not only likes when her customers are pleased with their cakes but when they challenge her, “giving me something that I figure I can’t do but then I do. Then they say well done and recommend me to other people.”
The name of the business – Minimi – is a combination of the first two letters of Michelle’s name and her daughters, Nicole and Mikayla and they are both involved in the business to some degree.
Nicole takes care of the marketing aspects such as uploading photos and maintaining Minimi’s Facebook and Instagram pages. She also takes orders sometimes. Mikayla is the photo editor and makes sure she captures all her mum’s cakes when they are finished and ready for delivery.
How does Michelle manage the baking with a full-time job?
“I normally ask customers to give me three days’ notice and then I work to suit. My boss is really accommodating so he would let me go home and bake my cakes and do my stuff then come back to work.
“I like to make the normal pudding cakes like vanilla. I like 3D cakes. A woman challenged me with a dinosaur. I go on YouTube and I buy classes from craftsy.com, in terms of tutorials. I watch the teacher and do my own thing. I put a lot of props in them so they don’t fall over,” she said.
She has done a pool table, bags, Minnie Mouse cakes, Peppa Pig, Sponge Bob and a dog in 3D as well as regular picture cakes, with the latter mainly for children.
Although Michelle is kept busy making birthday, anniversary, wedding and other special occasion cakes throughout the year, Christmas is her busiest period.
“I haven’t enjoyed a proper Christmas lately. From November to Christmas Eve I work late and the bank holidays,” she said with a chuckle. She noted too that during the festive season, the demand for “plain” cakes – those without icing – is highest.
While she has made an egg-free cake before for a customer, she said the demand is not great. Her next step will be to tackle gluten free cakes.
She doesn’t use pans in all her designs, preferring to “do my own thing” and cut them out by hand freestyle.
When you see photos of her work, you have to wonder if she draws them first: “I would love to draw. I see drawing on cakes but I can’t draw for nothing . . . . But drawing is part of cake art,” she said with a laugh.
Chocolate, vanilla, red velvet are the popular flavours but in addition to those she offers orange and strawberry.
“I try to do different flavours,” she said, adding that she offers great cake and vanilla with alcohol.
“Any dessert I can do . . . . I can do jam puffs, salt bread but I don’t do them as regular. I can do three cakes a day or about ten a week. Saturdays are my busiest days. I also deliver anywhere for a fee,” Michelle said.