SWEET SUCCESSHelena baker Hope Crocker creates timeless cakes for her community.
By Emily Reed
Photos by Dawn Harrison and Contributed
There is an undeniable sweetness to each cake Hope Crocker makes from her Helena home, and with each creation there is also a labor of love.
“Each cake that I make I try to make as special, unique, and perfect as I can,” Crocker said. “I know that people are wanting me to create something for their special occasion, so I am mindful of that when I am working on each cake.”
Crocker’s business has quickly evolved into “Hope’s Sweet Cakes,” after Crocker initially began baking cakes for her three sons, Asher, Ian, and Cohen.
Crocker lives in Helena with her family including her three sons, and husband, Nathan.
Friends of Crocker’s began asking her to create cakes for their children that were not only timeless and unique, but mainly because they tasted good.
“Facebook and word-of-mouth really helped get things off the ground,” Crocker said. “Friends would ask me to bake a cake for their children and it started from there.”
In January 2016, Crocker received a Cottage Food license to allow her to sell baked goods from her home to the public.
According to Alabama’s Cottage Food Law, individuals can produce certain nonhazardous foods in their home, and those operating a food business under the law must attend and pass a food safety course approved by the Alabama Department of Public Health every five years.
Since 2016, Crocker’s business continues to grow, where individuals are continually requesting her one-of-a-kind cakes.
One of the things that makes Crocker’s cakes unique is her use of a marshmallow Fondant icing that “tastes delicious.”
“My cakes are covered in a homemade vanilla buttercream so you get the good, yummy buttercream, and then I also cover it in a homemade, marshmallow Fondant that seals in the freshness and moisture,” Crocker said. “It gives you a very pretty outside. Weekly, I will get a customer that tells me they don’t want any Fondant on their cake because they think it tastes bad, but my Fondant tastes delicious so a lot of people end up changing their minds.”
Crocker credits her desire to create to her mother, Sheila Windham, who has always enjoyed arts and crafts.
“She always encouraged me to go for anything I wanted to try,” Crocker said. “I know I got all of my creative juices from our many projects as I was growing up.”
The self-taught baker would often stop by the Helena Library and request that the librarians would order her cake decorating books.
“Right now cakes are so popular,” Crocker said. “Anywhere I can get knowledge, I try to soak it up.”
Crocker provides birthday cakes, cupcakes, bridal cakes and any special occasion cakes for her customers.
Since Crocker bakes from her home, she limits her cake baking to roughly three cakes per week.
“That is one of my biggest problems right now is I book up really fast because I am only able to do about three per week,” Crocker said. “I hate turning business down, and I really hate when someone calls me and tells me they really need a cake for a special occasion and I am already booked. I try to tell people to let me know as soon as they can.”
Those wishing to order a cake from Crocker are asked to provide the event date, type of event, size of cake, flavor of cake and icing, and the recipient’s name and age if it is desired to be listed on the cake.
Crocker said many customers submit pictures of ideas they would like for Crocker to emulate and she can create something from a picture.
“Nowadays, most moms out there already know exactly what they want,” Crocker said. “The invention of Pinterest really has a lot of moms knowing ahead of time different ideas they would like to try. I also don’t mind creating something for those that don’t really have an idea of what they want but give me a general idea.”
One unique element to Crocker’s cakes is each figure she creates is not only edible, but serves as a keepsake.
“They are made out of marshmallows so when they harden you can keep them forever,” Crocker said. “I like creating something that I know people can keep for a long time.”
Crocker anticipates expanding her business when her children are all in school, but plans to offer cake decorating classes in the future from her home for anyone interested.
“I have a lot of people who are interested already, and I would love to be able to teach other moms how to make cakes for their children,” Crocker said. “Kids love for their parents to make them a cake, and I think a lot of people are intimidated because they don’t know where to start.”