Cupcakes in Prague – Part 1
Prague.tv's guide to homemade cupcakeries
Anyone with a sweet tooth should have no problem in Prague, with bakeries and places serving up trdelník found on every corner. In recent times though, much like American corporations such as Starbucks and McDonald’s now have a presence in the capital, the cupcake has appeared and is increasing in popularity. There are a few businesses dedicated to creating homemade cupcakes so Prague.tv decided to delve into the mix, starting with Cupcakes by Marena.
Marena Canese has had a love of baking since an early age, with a dream to one day open her very own cupcake bakery. So when she came to the Czech Republic two years ago to study Business at Prague College she saw a great opportunity to start turning that dream into a reality. While the bakery itself may not yet be realised, her online website selling solely cupcakes is heading in the right direction as it comes up to its first anniversary.
“I started the cupcake business in December of last year,” says Marena. “One morning I just woke up and thought it would be a good idea. I saw a gap in the market and have a passion for baking and decorating cakes so thought why not? It was a huge opportunity.
“No-one else is doing cupcakes for the English market,” she adds. “Expatriates, students and others in the international community are whom I mainly cater for as a lot of Czech people like their own cakes. There are a few others baking and selling cupcakes but none on the same scale.”
Hailing from Phoenix, Arizona in the USA, the cupcakes Marena creates are undoubtedly authentic American ones. They are all made from scratch using her own homemade recipe, but unlike most traditional cakes she uses a vegan recipe for the cake, with the frosting on top being the only non-vegan element. She does traditional cupcakes as well (using milk and eggs) and is constantly adapting the recipes to meet customer needs. Recently Marena made a special batch for one woman who was vegan and diabetic and is also experimenting with gluten free versions that she hopes to start baking and selling soon.
“You can keep them in the fridge for up to three or four days maximum because I do a vegan cake, with the cream mostly made from cream cheese, so nothing really spoils like in traditional cakes that use milk and eggs. I made some of the traditional cupcakes and was giving them to people and a lot of them said they liked the vegan ones better. They are easier for me to make and healthier!”
Marena has a stock of basic ingredients in her cupcake cabinet and visits farmers’ markets and various shops to seek out other required ingredients. For example another customer recently ordered blackberry cupcakes and, despite them being out of season, Marena tracked some down in Tesco. Ordering is easy too, just visit the website or Facebook page, send Marena a message negotiating flavours and designs and arrange the delivery date.
“I bake them on the day and ask for notice at least one day in advance,” she says. “I do delivery or can meet customers somewhere and hand them over. I deliver myself, either by car or public transport, and have never dropped any. Price depends on what flavour and how many. I give customers a quote and provide discounts to friends, family, students etc.”
As well as personal orders Marena does cupcake catering for business meetings, weddings, birthdays, baby showers, holiday parties and promotional events. For example last month she baked some Halloween cupcakes for Holmes Place and has also had them available at M1 Lounge.
In America cupcakes are seen as a luxury delicacy and often quite expensive but in the Czech Republic it’s obviously not the same market. For this reason most batches cost around 400 CZK, whether 24 mini ones, 12 regular or 3 giant cupcakes. Marena also gives cupcake baking classes for around 200 CZK per person, usually with a group of ten, where she helps them bake and decorate cupcakes in their house. She hasn’t done as many of these recently, instead concentrating more on the baking side of things.
“My dream is to have my own cupcakery with a bakery and online e-shop selling only cupcakes. It is best to keep the business small and niche for costs though, and I can’t really grow the business much when still studying. I also have to think about whether a shop would be able to pay for itself.
“My business has grown in the last three months though,” she adds. “Weekly I have been getting three to four orders on average. The week of Halloween I made 300 cupcakes but I am baking every week, maybe 50 a week on average.”
Understandably she’s been pretty busy but there are some interesting plans to expand the cupcake range to reach out to new customers. Not one afraid to experiment and always happy to take on board customer feedback, it sounds like they could be an acquired taste.
“Lots of guys have told me they don’t like sweet stuff, that they like salty cupcakes, so I have a few ideas for going into that market. One is a cupcake with maple syrup and bacon on top, or a muffin with a hotdog in it and mustard on top.”
For more information, to order a batch or suggest a new flavour visit: http://www.cupcakery.cz/
Or like Cupcakes by Marena on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CzechOutMyCupcakes
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