Jennifer Bunce-Timmons has baked cakes for well over a decade, beginning in the small kitchen of her Jersey City apartment. After graduating from Rutgers and beginning a career in the corporate world, Bunce-Timmons decided she needed a more creative outlet, and took a leap of faith.
“It just wasn’t fulfilling and I knew that I could do something more,” says Bunce-Timmons. “I wanted to create something instead of just sending spreadsheets all day.”
After attending the Institute of Culinary Education in Manhattan for pastry, Bunce-Timmons opened her own specialty cake studio, Hudson Cakery. Operating out her Jersey City home at first, Hudson Cakery now has a brick-and-mortar location in Weehawken. We caught up with her to ask about what she’s learned over the past 10 years in the industry.
Table Hopping: You went from corporate to the kitchen. What was your culinary journey like?
Jennifer Bunce-Timmons: I was actually a journalism major which was hilarious, considering what I do now. I fell into event planning which led me to be a corporate event planner for about five or six years. I always loved baking and I couldn’t take another conference call again. I decided to leave my corporate job which was sort of a big, giant leap. I needed some sort of creative outlet.
TH: Did you ever think about baking full time when you were younger?
JBT: I always fell into watching wedding cake makers and I thought that was so interesting. I never, never thought about that being a profession. There are so few people who actually really do that. So I was like, I couldn’t be one of them.
TH: And look at you now!
JBT: I’m still like, “Oh my God!” It was sort of a leap of a leap of faith, for sure. Less than a year later, I was working in a restaurant in Manhattan, as a pastry chef. But I knew that’s not where I wanted to be. I knew that I did want to end up in cakes. I started interning around at other cake bakeries in the city and started the Hudson Cakery out of my Jersey City apartment in 2009.
TH: What was your journey like going from your apartment to getting a storefront?
JBT: The rental kitchen business wasn’t really in full effect yet anywhere. I did end up in one catering kitchen all the way up in Brooklyn, and it was just disgusting! I started getting more orders and more word of mouth. After about a year and a half, I started to seriously consider doing a storefront. I found a space back in 2011 and we started in August 2011.
TH: What have you learned since then?
JBT: I learned a lot more by throwing myself in the fire without a mentor. There’s no blueprint for my type of business. You match the exact specifications from a client. I pretty much know the ins and outs of a custom cake business because I kind of didn’t know what I was doing in the beginning. I sort of had to figure it out on my own, but I think I came away stronger.
TH: As a custom cake business, have you seen a decline in the need for those this year?
JBT: Oh, absolutely. We are only special events. We were still getting very small orders because there’s always a birthday, but we had to kind of pivot and figure out how the heck we were going to keep the lights on. We figured out a sugar cookie kit that people can do at home or exchange for Easter. We did the same for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. We’ve been very fortunate that we’ve had a lot of support from the community.
TH: Did you have to change any of your menu items this year?
JBT: We did, but then the world sort of opened up again. They were smaller than normal, but we still had weddings, and smaller outdoor events to care for. We’ve been taking pre-orders only for our holiday kits and we’re doing the hot cocoa bombs. That’s pretty much keeping us afloat this year along with our gingerbread houses.
TH: Do you have any specific moments in your culinary career that stand out to you?
JBT: One highlight was definitely when we were featured on the Cooking Channel’s show called Cake Hunters. There was a birthday party for the quadruplet brothers in Brooklyn and they were choosing their favorite cake—and that was us!
TH: Do you have any favorite cake flavors or designs?
JBT: My favorite probably has to be either the chocolate cake or banana bread cake. In terms of design, I just like a really pretty, naked cake with fresh flowers and fruits. They’re seasonless and fit into any sort of reception.
TH: And the recipes are your own personal ones?
JBT: Most of the recipes I worked on back in my little apartment. We’ve really been using them for 10 years now. We’ve had to tweak a couple of them every now and we pretty much have the same recipes. We’re pretty consistent.
TH: Do you have any plans going into the new year?
JBT: We look forward to just planning a normal wedding without so many interruptions and doing normal scheduled events! We’re sort of just planning and prepping on how to improve things internally. With only five people here, it’s been a really tricky year.
Hudson Cakery is located at 1816 Willow Avenue in Weehawken. Check out their Instagram to see the holiday Gingerbread Houses, Cookie Kits and Holiday Treat Boxes—all available for pre-order. Cakes can be ordered two or three weeks in advance. Call 201-319-0363 for more info.Click here to leave a comment