Cupcake interview with Anne Heap of Pink Cake Box

I don't just dig Pink Cake Box because I'm a Jersey girl, but as a cupcake blogger, I love that they are using the web to their advantage. They have a frequently updated blog and are also on Flickr showing off their cupcakes. Anne's also been on CNN talking about her bakery.

Name: Anne Heap
Age: 28
Location: Denville, NJ
Occupation: Owner/Head Chef, Pink Cake Box

You've been baking since the age of six (!) and have held various baking jobs. What made you decide to open Pink Cake Box? How long did it take to go from conceiving of the idea to opening the bakery?

I really fell in love with “cake” while in culinary school. Although making other pastries is fun, I really loved the creative elements of cake designing. I decided I wanted to start the business in July of 2005. By October, Pink Cake Box legally became a company. I worked out of a restaurant kitchen and then my home kitchen until July 2007, when we finally moved into our commercial space!

You're a graduate of the Pastry Arts Program at the French Culinary Institute and former head pastry chef for Il Capriccio in Whippany, New Jersey. How has your training guided you in your path as a bakery? Do you enjoy having greater creativity working for yourself?

My training definitely helped me with recipe development and baking methods. I really enjoy working for myself because it allows me to be really creative with my designs and flavors.

What have you learned about the business of making cupcakes since starting Pink Cake Box?

I've learned that creating the "perfect cupcake" is just as much of an art form as cake design. Baking the cupcake to the perfect height and color...piping the perfect frosting swirl, and finishing it off with the perfect adornment!

What makes your cupcakes unique?

Our cupcakes are really moist and delicious. The frosting is light and fluffy...and of course we create sugar decorations for the cupcakes for many different events.

Mahjong cupcakes via Flickr

Your cupcakes, cakes and other baked goods are done by appointment only. How far in advance should someone contact you to book an event and is it best for the to come in with an idea in mind or do you consult with them and brainstorm to figure out the best design?

We recommend 4-6 weeks for most of our orders. Weddings and large events should be booked a few months in advance to ensure we are available. We work with all types of customers⎯those with definite ideas, and those who really aren't sure what they'd like.

You deliver to New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. Are there any other parameters of your delivery areas ?Do you also do setup?

We set up and deliver all over New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and even Connecticut. So far we haven't “flown” with any of our cakes...but I'm not saying it's out of the question!

You've made everything from pool ball cupcakes to Thanksgiving placecard cupcakes with each guest's name piped into handmade sugarpaste leaf. How do you come up with the ideas for these? For instance, the martini cupcakes, which were in martini glasses with an "olive" for a 40th birthday party, paired with a purse cake?

It's really all about problem solving for me. A customer will come to me with a “problem” (i.e. they want a unique place card idea for Thanksgiving) and I'll come up with a solution...a leaf cupcake! I usually will collect information about the party or event and come up with a fun and unique idea. There's not really a method to it...just whatever pops into my mind!

Billiard cupcakes via Flickr

You've done St. Patrick's Day, Easter, and other holiday cupcakes. Do you have any specials planned for Mother's Day?

I might make my mom some flower pot cupcakes!

What advice would you give those who want to start their own bakery?

Make sure you have a good support system around you, whether it be a spouse, family or friends. The hours are long and tough⎯I could never do it without the help of my family, especially my husband and mother!

You cater many parties, weddings, and other events. How far in advance should people contact you and how much input do you usually get from your customers?

Customers planning large events should contact us anywhere from 2 months to a year before their event. When I meet with my customers, I like to ask them to describe the event⎯its tone, color, etc so I can create a cake that complements the theme.

What's been your favorite event you've catered and why? What's your dream catering job?

I really enjoyed making a wedding cake for one of my best friends. It was so amazing to see her face the first time she saw it! Knowing that my cake will be a piece of the wonderful memories of her wedding day is pretty awesome!

My dream job would making a cake for a diamond company...studded in diamonds! :)


You're currently looking for culinary and art students or graduates for internships with Pink Cake Box. What will their job requirements entail and what will they learn from working at Pink Cake Box?

Our interns are required to work for 240 hours at Pink Cake Box. They learn everything from baking to filling, to decorating cakes, cupcakes and cookies.

Do most customers find you through word of mouth or online, or by other means?

Most find us through word of mouth, our website, or bridal magazines.

What are your favorite and least favorite parts of running Pink Cake Box?

My most favorite is finishing a challenging cake⎯and having the customer absolutely love it! My least favorite is the lack of sleep!

Why do you think cupcakes have become so popular lately?

They are delicious little morsels! They add fun and whimsy to any occasion...and are a great way to incorporate many flavors into the dessert menu.

And now for some personal questions…

Graduation party cupcakes via Flickr

How often do you eat cupcakes?

Cupcakes...not too often (cake scraps...a couple times a week! )

What's the best thing about eating cupcakes?

You don't need a fork!

What's your favorite type of cupcake?

Red velvet with lemon cream cheese frosting.

How do cupcakes compare/contrast to other baked goods for you?

Cupcakes for me are better than cake...but not as good as cookies!

Is there any innovation you'd like to see made to the cupcake that would improve it for you?

Maybe some more fun cupcake liners...maybe some new shapes?!

Do you bake your own cupcakes? Or (even better) have someone who bakes them for you?

I used to do all the baking myself...but now Tara, my baking aficionado, has taken over that department!

What's your first cupcake-related memory?

I remember baking cupcakes in 2nd grade to bring into my class for my birthday. I “slaved” over them for “hours.” We put them into a Brooks Brothers’ shirt box so I could bring them on the bus with me. When I got to school, I knocked the whole box over and all of the frosting got smashed into the lid. I was horrified, of course, but luckily 8-year-olds aren't too discriminating and ate them anyway! I knew then that cupcakes were fantastical!

What's the most fun you've ever had with a cupcake?

I'm sorry, my dirty mind is going nowhere good with this question.


C.L. said…
Love the interview...she is a kick in the pants..and her cupcakes are pretty sweet. Thanks :)

Anonymous said…
Wonderful interview! =)
Great success story. I love the tiered display of cupcakes.