Story by Adrienne McGee Sterrett
Photos courtesy of Melissa Emmons
Melissa Emmons is particular.
And when you’re in her trade, that is exactly the right trait.
Emmons is a baker who offers cakes and cookies for sale from her Middle Point home. Her business just celebrated its first official anniversary, a fact that still astonishes her to a degree.
She didn’t set out to do this.
“Six years ago, I made my own baby shower cake, and it was the first one I’d ever done,” she said. She figured she could fashion a baby bottom with feet easy enough.
“Anything artistic, I’ve always loved, so I guess that’s where I found my outlet,” she said.
The former nurse’s aide sold her first cake to a co-worker, and sales with those kind of connections have been happening for about two years.
Then life happened. Her son was diagnosed with severe food allergies, and she and her husband are taking him to Cincinnati weekly for de-sensitization treatments. She decided to homeschool him while he’s undergoing treatment, with the hope that he would be able to safely learn in a traditional school in coming years. A job switch ended up not having the right amount of hours for her household. But through this, demand for her baked goods was rising.
“It’s amazing how it all falls together,” she said with a smile.
She is now baking fulltime.
“It was scary because I didn’t know if I was going to get the support,” she said.
Her fears were unfounded. Custom baked goods have proven popular in her area as well as around the state. Alerts on her phone certainly keep her busy, and she has had to practice saying “no” when she hasn’t the time for the order.
”I work more than I did with a fulltime job, for sure,” she said. “Trades like this, people don’t understand the time.”
And for her, the danger in being too busy is the lack of enjoyment.
“I find it relaxing to stand there and do the little details on the icing,” she said.
She is far from stagnant in her art. She dreams of teaching classes, and this year she will offer decorate-your-own cookie kits.
“For me, there is always room for improvement,” she said. “Not figuring it out is not an option. … My first cookies were not pretty. Keep trying. It took me a while to get there.
“The internet is amazing. You can learn anything nowadays. There’s no excuse not to try.”
Follow Crumb Coat LLC on Facebook for opportunities to order. Emmons offers pick-up at her home and will ship within Ohio.
She can also be reached at email@example.com.
One dozen decorated cookies sells for $30.
Baking supplies are easy to spend money on. Sprinkles are available in every shape and color. Cookie cutters are in every shape. They will tempt you.
“I’ve got a giant drawer full of just sprinkles. Most women, it’s shoes ….” she said with a smile, explaining her goal is a 3D printer so she can print her own cutters instead of ordering custom through Etsy.
Pumpkin Spice Cake
— Emmons encourages you to experiment with this recipe and make it your own, just like she did and continues to do with recipes she happens across.
2 2/3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
16 ounces pumpkin puree
Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.
In a separate bowl, mix together sugars, eggs, oil and pumpkin.
Slowly add the dry mixture to the wet mixture; Mix well.
Pour batter into a greased and floured pan and bake at 350 degrees until a toothpick tests clean.
• Recipe will make one 9-by-13-inch cake, two 8-inch rounds or 24-36 cupcakes.
• Royal icing shows fine detail and hardens beautifully, but it is difficult to perfect. Beginners should use buttercream.
• If you’re determined to use royal icing, be prepared to have a lot of ruined batches at first. For instance, it must be thinned by water added a drop at a time to control the amount. If it becomes too thin, there is no fixing it.
”The hardest thing to get down is the consistency of the icing,” she said. “A lot of wasted icing to get that figured out.”
• Search online or visit your favorite baking supply store for disposable tipless piping bags. There is no need for tips and couplers and the whole mess. The disposable tipless bags can be loaded with icing and the tip simply snipped off when you’re ready.
• Use gel coloring, not the liquid food coloring you might be more familiar with. The liquid coloring will change the consistency too much. Gel coloring is widely available now.
• Use a cookie dough that doesn’t spread. If it spreads too much while it’s baking, it will be difficult to see what shape it’s supposed to be.
• Take the extra time to make up all the icing you need for one decorating spree. Load all the piping bags with the colors you need before you start.
“And then hope you made enough,” she said, explaining she’s been one cookie short more times than she can count.
• If your hands are warm, the heat will affect the consistency of the icing and make it thinner. It’s best to set the piping bag down and take a break.