One bite of a treat from Calaveras Cakes and a person can get a taste of baker Jennifer Jordan’s personality: sunny and sweet.
Since she was a teenager, Jordan has been baking up all manner of goodies for friends and family. For the past year, she has operated Calaveras Cakes, a business focused on custom cakes, confections and other dessert (or anytime) offerings.
Though Jordan will design custom cakes for birthdays, weddings and anniversaries, other items she creates seem to have their own notoriety.
“We’re known for Rice Krispy treats and chocolate-dipped strawberries. Those seem to be the two most popular items,” Jordan said.
And before one thinks that those sound like plenty of sweets to offer the public, Jordan has an entire menu for 2020 that includes the popular items from what people ordered in 2019.
“I’ve definitely got more customer favorites on there; more flavors people seem to be drawn to,” Jordan said. “Our maple bacon cupcakes are definitely a seller. It’s a cinnamon cupcake topped with maple cream cheese, with candied bacon on top. People love the sweet and salty.”
Jordan, 28, learned much of her baking skills at her grandmother’s side.
“I’ve been baking coming up on 10 years now,” Jordan said. “Since I was a little girl, really; you know, baking with grandma, Christmas cookies. I loved that aspect. I learned later on, trying to recreate those flavors in high school came along pretty easy to me. I felt like it was my calling. To be able to start the business was a blessing.”
Jordan sees food (especially treats like hers) as a way of bringing people together.
“Food is so communal. I love when there’s an event and there’s so many people and they’re all surrounded around the cookie platter, or they’re all surrounded around the brownies, and they’re talking about how good they are, and everyone is having the same experience,” Jordan said. “Food makes people happy.”
She said putting food with family is a definite drive for what she does.
But it’s not just those decadent, delectable treats her audience clamors for. More and more are beginning to think about their waistlines.
“I’ve tried to adjust my strategy for when it comes to treats, so we’re trying out healthy bar snacks for now,” Jordan said. “I’ve got some roasted chickpeas we’re going to try out. I hear those have a little bit of a kick to them. They’re seasoned and roasted. More people are on a diet and be more health conscious after the holidays. Plus, they’re gluten free and vegan.”
Though those healthy options are making their way into the Calaveras Cakes menu, Jordan is still working on recipes to make sure what she offers in those areas are just as good as her current items.
Jordan admits she prefers working with specific ingredients because of flavor (she prefers a buttercream frosting on her cakes for that very reason), and she looks forward to special requests for the creative aspect.
“We did a three-tier wedding cake that was all different flavors that took a while for the baking and assembling. That was definitely our biggest endeavor,” Jordan said. “It took the course of over a week and a good month of planning. That’s what I like. I like to take the time to think about my flavors and what I’m doing with my concepts. That way I’m happy with the process and how it’s going.”
One of the ways that Jordan said she can utilize her planning and creative skills is with children’s cakes.
“I feel like I express my creativity more with children’s cakes because they’re so fun and vibrant,” Jordan said. “Knowing that kids are going to be so happy with what they get … They’re the best customers.”
Aside from Gooney’s Bar & Grill, at 6 Main St., San Andreas, where Jordan operates her business, she has a few other wholesale clients where customers can find her goods throughout the county.
“I’m in the Pickle Patch (in San Andreas), and Whoopsie Daisy in Moke Hill, and coming up, Big John’s, a gas station in Mountain Ranch,” Jordan said. “So we will be providing … different desserts based on what the buyer would like.”
For now, Jordan is a one-woman show, but she hopes to expand in the coming year.
“I’m trying to accommodate all of my wholesale clients and clients here and cake customers all the best that I can, but if it turns out I need help, then I’d love nothing more to expand the business by hiring someone,” Jordan said.
Even though every cake she creates is different, Jordan said it all comes down to one thing.
“It’s all about that first bite,” she said.