Story and photos by McKenzie Caldwell
Sinamon Cluxton isn’t White’s Cake Box’s first owner, but since the White family opened shop around 66 years ago, Cluxton has been the Hillsboro bakery’s second-longest owner.
White’s Cake Box has had a total of four owners and has moved its storefront a few times, though it’s always been located in uptown Hillsboro. Cluxton estimates that the Whites owned and operated the bakery for over four decades before they sold the bakery and its recipes.
For the last 12 years, Cluxton has been the only person who makes the cream filling for the doughnuts, a White’s Cake Box original recipe.
“It’s kind of like a little oath that you take with the owners. I’m the only person here who knows the cream recipe, and it’s not written down anywhere,” Cluxton said. “I’ve been offered $10,000 for the cream recipe. I told them, ‘Absolutely not.’ I want to say they were from Adams County, but it was years ago. I don’t know if they were starting a bakery or if they had a bakery or what they were going to do with it.”
Fortunately, Cluxton believes that if something ever happened to her, the bakery’s previous owners would step up and save the day.
In Cluxton’s experience, the original recipes, like the cream and the ladyfingers, are the reason behind White’s Cake Box’s continued success.
“The secret is sticking with the original recipes, not trying to change them and make them your own — just sticking with what has been around for 60 years,” Cluxton said.
Not only does Cluxton stay in touch with the man who sold her the bakery, but Mrs. White’s granddaughter still drops by, and some of the customers have been getting their doughnuts from White’s Cake Box for years.
“You’ll have people come in and say they’ve been coming in since they were 4, 5, 6 years old. This is where they’ve come to get their doughnuts for 60 years,” Cluxton said. “It’s funny because they walk in, you know exactly what they’re after — their eyes go straight to whatever their regular is. They’re just like, ‘OK, she’s got long johns,’ or ‘Oh, good, glazed,’ or ‘Oh, fritters!’”
Cluxton currently operates White’s Cake Box with a team of five: two people who handle the counter, a fryer, a delivery person and Cluxton herself, who acts as the bakery’s only cake decorator.
“We do a lot with very few people,” Cluxton said.
Cluxton said she’s hoping for new possibilities in the fall, which could bring new seasonal and regular options and extended hours, but she’s already implemented a seasonal offering.
After Hillsboro began hosting Saturday night cruising events in May, Cluxton added evening hours for the first time in White’s Cake Box history.
“My husband heard during the first cruise weekend that a restaurant ran out of food. He just said, ‘You know, you should try opening the bakery on a Saturday night.’ I was like, ‘Really?’ and he said, ‘Just try it and see what happens,’” Cluxton said. “It has been really, really cool. I would’ve never expected it. We did a trial for three weeks. I’m telling you, they love the Saturday nights. The first night we tried it, we didn’t know what to expect, so we didn’t make a ton of doughnuts — we sold out in an hour and 20 minutes. The second weekend, we made more, and we made it to an hour and a half. The third week, we made even more and made it to an hour and 40 minutes.”
Cluxton said Saturday evenings work better for some customers.
“The people who are coming in are saying one of three things: ‘I can’t get here in the morning’ because either they’re through town before we open in the mornings or they don’t have time to stop; ‘we prefer doughnuts for dessert instead of breakfast’; or ‘we like to have doughnuts on Sunday mornings,’ so they get them on Saturday nights to eat with their family or take to church on Sunday mornings,” Cluxton said.
For White’s Cake Box, Cluxton said they appreciate when customers order anything more than a dozen doughnuts at least 24 hours in advance, though she understands that sometimes that isn’t possible.
“That way we can prepare their two dozen, three dozen, four dozen separately. That would help keep us from selling out so early,” Cluxton said. “But I understand people wake up in the morning, and they’re like, ‘I think I’ll take doughnuts to work this morning.’ Sometimes it’s not a prepared thing, and it’s completely fine. We’ve had people say, ‘You need to limit how much people can get,’ but I’m never going to do that. I’m not going to punish people for making a last-minute decision.”
For cakes, customers need to place an order at least 48 hours in advance.
“We have a bad review on one of our pages because they wanted a half sheet cake, and we were booked. They said, ‘I just don’t know why you couldn’t squeeze in a half sheet cake,’” Cluxton said. “It takes about 15 minutes to mix it up; it takes about half an hour to 45 minutes for it to bake; it takes a minimum of a half hour for it to cool; and then another half hour to decorate it — so squeezing in a half sheet cake is about two and a half hours. People think we’re like Walmart or Kroger, and we have them in the freezer and just pull them out and decorate them. The whole baking and cooling process is what takes the longest, so we can’t just whip them up.”
In both cases, customers need to speak directly with an employee to confirm the timeline for their orders.
White’s Cake Box
118 E. Main St., Hillsboro
Summer hours are 5:30-11 a.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and 6-11 a.m. and 6-8 p.m. Saturdays.
Sinamon Cluxton’s Fudge Brownies
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons salted butter, melted
1 cup white sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips, melted, plus 1 cup milk chocolate chips, separate
3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line a 9-by-9-inch metal pan with parchment paper.
Pour melted butter into a large mixing bowl. Mix in sugar by hand until smooth. Add eggs and vanilla and whisk about one minute. Whisk in melted chocolate until smooth.
Use a spatula to stir in flour, cocoa and salt until smooth.
Stir in whole chocolate chips.
Pour into pan.
Bake about 30 minutes.
Let cool completely before cutting.