NORTHPORT — Hana Thurston has been baking cakes for the last eight years, and formally launched her Hana Cakes business two or three years ago after always wanting to launch a cake business.
The Northport resident, at long last, discovered a way to launch her business when a memorable creation of hers, a two-tiered realistic diaper cake with an edible fondant diaper that was “soiled” with melted chocolate acting as poop running down the side of the cake for her sister’s third baby shower, went internationally viral.
“It was meant to be a joke for her, and it wasn’t until several years later when it was posted on Facebook and went viral all over the world,” Thurston said.
The image received split feedback, with some calling the cake disgusting and questioning the sanity of the person who both ordered and created the cake.
“I had no idea my sister’s baby shower cake would become such a hot, steamy topic,” Thurston told Huffington Post UK about the reactions. “That is awesome. According to all the comments online, all over the world, I guess I make shitty cakes.”
As Thurston notes, one cannot classify the cakes simply as cakes when they are much more than that.
“I see my cakes as works of art — that you can eat,” Thurston said.
Each time she receives an order for one of her memorable cakes, she challenges herself to make each one better than her last creation.
“I have always been artistic and have a degree in graphic design, so I see each cake as a piece of art instead of just a cake,” said Thurston. “I have always enjoyed cooking and baking, but I have no formal training. Everything I do, I have taught myself. I always try to use the best ingredients, all homemade from scratch, and I even make the homemade fondant that covers the cakes. It makes for a much better tasting cake.”
The time required to create each cake masterpiece varies greatly, from five hours to more than 20 hours, depending on the design with most of the hours entailing sculpting, decorating, and tending to small — but still significantly important — details.
The time and attention to detail to create each work of art yields one of the biggest challenges for Thurston’s business: pricing her cakes at a fair rate for both her and her customers.
“The most challenging part is knowing when to stop [trying to add more detail],” Thurston said. “Otherwise, I end up making a cake I undercharged for. One of my favorite quotes I've heard is, ‘Don't expect an Ace of Cakes cake at a big-box store price.’ Some customers tend to be surprised by my quotes, but they have no idea how much time and effort go into custom cakes. Most people have no idea how much actual work goes into these cakes.”
Despite all the work, and multitude of hours, it takes to produce each cake, Thurston is rewarded by the reaction of her customers as she strives to exceed their expectations.
Right now, Thurston is turning away inquiries for cake orders as she does not feel comfortable doing cakes during the pandemic. To keep herself occupied, though, she has begun uploading cake making tutorials on YouTube.
“I have had some people interested in the process, so this is a way to showcase this,” she said of her YouTube videos.