Baking Buckingham Palace
SHAKER LIFE | FALL 2017 37
If you’ve ever wished for an update or expansion of your historic home’s kitchen,
just know you might not exactly need it. In her Lomond neighborhood home, Becki Dina
individually bakes each cake or sheet of cookies for her Sugar Arts Bakehouse customers,
and one cookie sheet or cake is quite literally all her petite wall oven can fit at any one time.
But that suits Becki just fine. After all, each of her creations is custom – as the name of the
business indicates, they’re works of art — and she gives each order her full attention while
she creates it.
On the day I visited Becki in her home, where she and her family have lived for 15
years, she showed me her current cake-in-progress — a Buckingham Palace cake for
a first-grader with very specific tastes. The birthday girl submitted a crayon
mock-up showing a castle with a purple door, yellow windows, and a request
for “wite ising.” Becki delivered all that plus turrets, green grass, blue sky, and
Unique requests like this are part of the reason Becki’s job is always
interesting. “It’s still fun for me, because I never know what someone’s going
to ask for.”
Surprisingly, Becki says she never thought of herself as an artistic
person before she opened her business four years ago, although she has always
loved to bake. Now she sees the world through an artist’s eyes.
“I look at things differently as a decorator. I’ll look at somebody’s dress and say,
“Ooh, I like that flower. I wonder if I could turn that into a cookie,” Becki says.
It’s no wonder she’s always thinking about baking. As a work-from-home
baker, her business is seamlessly integrated into the rest of her life. She has
previously worked as a teacher — and still does, part-time at the Shaker Heights
Co-Op Preschool — but she wanted more control over her time.
“The whole reason I did this was so I could be home and be flexible,” says
Becki. In addition to baking during the school hours of her four children, she
often works afterwards for a few hours once the kids go to bed. “I can’t do that if
I have to drive to some shop somewhere.” That’s why Becki, though she receives
more cake and cookie requests than she can handle (orders often close a month
ahead), has no desire to open a storefront and hire employees.
“I will often get up in the morning and get a cake in the oven or mix up
cookie dough before school even starts. I just feel like I have so much more flexibility
working from home.”
Becki’s business is exactly where she wants it to be right now. Most of her customers
find and contact her through the Sugar Arts Bakehouse page on Facebook, where she posts
photos of her creations and alerts her customers about upcoming order deadlines. Her
customers can browse the designs there and on her website for inspiration, with options
ranging from classic simplicity to Minecraft whimsy to flowery sophistication. It seems that
Becki is limited only by her imagination — and, of course, the customer’s.
“My favorite thing is just being able to create something that makes people’s
celebrations more special,” says Becki, “whether it’s a baby shower or a little girl’s birthday
who wanted Buckingham Palace with yellow windows and a purple door. Who’s going to do
that for her?”
Sugar Arts Bakehouse, of course.
By Sharon Holbrook
Photography by Green Street Studios
Sugar Arts Bakehouse