For Mariam Jaffar, owner of The Cake Shop in Kuwait’s industrial quarter of Shuwaikh, mixing flour, eggs, sugar, and butter means a whole lot more than ‘making a cake’. Since establishing her cake bake house in 2010 with husband Ahmed, ‘making cakes’ has become a constant source of pleasure and creativity. Aside from this, she and her team are able to fulfil even the most extravagant of her clients’ cake design wishes… at the click of a mouse!
We had the great fortune to spend some time with Mariam at The Cake Shop, and learned more.
It was a necessarily early start, after all, she owns a bakery. We’d heard they sometimes work through the night. Luckily for us we were invited to meet Mariam after the sun had risen… but only just. “I’ve always been an early bird” she smiled as she greeted us.
A graduate of fashion design and product management, her career move in to baking might not have been a natural one, but just think about it for a moment. What’s more fashionable than an on-trend cake design?
“A cake is an event in itself”, she says, “and so, when our customers are planning birthdays, weddings, or any one of a number of social occasions, we pride ourselves in being invited to be part of their events”.
Last month’s key events for Mariam and The Cake Shop were Valentine’s Day and Kuwait’s National Day. In March, she’s looking ahead to Mother’s Day on the 21st.
In 2012, two years after opening her first cake shop, Mariam decided it wasn’t enough of a challenge for her, and allowed too small an inventory of classic cakes to enable her creativity to flourish. So, the decision was made to relocate to an industrial area, Shuwaikh, and to move in to a far bigger facility – her current customized production factory and a team comprising 50 staff.
Since then, The Cake Shop has built its reputation on receiving orders in person and online in the widest variety of shapes, flavors, and designs – 3D cakes, bespoke cakes on demand – to meet and exceed customer’s requirements. From a cosy cake shop to full facility, she confesses she made life very difficult for herself, but relished the opportunity it has presented. “For sure, I’ve loved the challenged. Back then I decided I wanted to take cake production further, and still do!”
The Cake Shop offers a delectable range of off-the-shelf cakes. The Cake Shop’s Classic cakes – for example carrot cakes, pumpkin cakes and traditional favorites including chocolate. Not all customers are individuals; “We have a busy corporate business too – banks and other large companies are regulars of ours. Our customization works perfectly for them – we once delivered 500 cupcakes, each individually decorated with the name or an employee!”
“We also offer customized cakes,” Mariam adds, “3D cakes, movie characters, designs on trend. The world is moving at such a fast pace and the baking industry is playing its role in keeping up! We have new designs in our kitchen on a weekly basis,” she says.
“The trend is currently for micro cakes! Small, customized cakes, around 15cm in diameter, they’re large enough for ten to twelve people. A few years back the trend was basically ‘the bigger the better’. Now the movement is for smaller cakes and greater personalization. TV and movie characters are very popular – for example if there’s a new Disney movie, people will want this featured; when there’s a hot Netflix series, we are asked to put those on a cake. The sky is the limit with cake design today!”
Visit The Cake Shop online at www.thecakeshop.com.kw and you can create your perfect cake using The Cake Shop’s easy step-by-step process. Simply follow the steps given, and at the end you can order your own custom designed cake. It really is as easy as the click of a mouse!
“All our cakes a decorated by hand”, Mariam points out. “It requires a level of skill that simply cannot be replicated by any machine. For the dough and icing though, of course these are measured by hand but mixed by machine. The final touches to all of our cakes are always by hand though”.
Mariam Jaffar Q&A
What’s the most challenging order you’ve received? Every wedding! Everyone involved in a wedding is nervous. There’s always a mix of opinions, and our job is to satisfy the bride and her family on this most important of life’s days!
What can’t you do with a cake? There’s almost nothing we cannot do! We’re creating architecture… not with concrete and steel but with fondant and icing. We’re always working closely with customers – discussing and evolving ideas. We’re fulfilling their cake-dreams!
Everyone is health conscious these days. What’s going in to your cakes? We always go with the best ingredients. Quality is number one for us, always. We work with the best butter, the best flour, and anything we can’t get to the right standard locally, we import.
What about food allergies? We’ve got those covered. We can create lactose-free, and gluten-free cakes. We always ask about allergies… and these can easily be accommodated. One thing to note though is that using alternate ingredients in these cases can result in a softer (and less ideal) sponge. This somewhat limit our creativity. We also offer vegan options. Ultimately though, customer often make a choice based on the tastes of their guests… they’re creating a cake for the guests more than for themselves!
Most popular cake flavors? We get orders for a wide variety of flavors including matcha, cotton candy, and peanut butter, but traditional red velvet and chocolate are always at the top of our customers’ lists!
What’s the lead time? As short as two to four hours! We have hundreds of cakes on our website that we can deliver in two to four hours. For some larger events, or where specific details of a cake might require more discussion and clarity, perhaps a customer will place their order a couple of days in advance.
Which other bakers do you admire? Obviously, there’s Buddy Valastro of Carlo’s Bakery in Hoboken, New Jersey. He’s probably better known to everyone as Cake Boss from the reality TV show.
Like every successful trend-based service, today Mariam has two great salesmen… happy customers and social media! We often she her cakes taking pride of place in events one night, and appearing of social media feeds the next day. Ultimately though, for Mariam her passion makes her business personal. While orders are easily placed online, every day she’s in meetings with new clients at her production facility.
“There are many ways to connect with us though,” she says. “either through our call center, online, or come and see us!”
You can find The Cake Shop on the following platforms: Talabat; Trycarriage; Bilbayt; Festivity; plus online www.thecakeshop.com.kw
Follow Mariam and her team on Instagram at @thecakeshop_kuwait