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Mid-Week Mugging: Cakes By Design

Cake shop marks a sweet anniversary this month
cakes by design mid week mugging 2
Jennifer Mayrl is owner/operator of Cakes By Design on Toronto Street. Sue Sgambati/BarrieToday

Jennifer Mayrl is a self-taught cake decorator who learned the ropes in high school working at a Richmond Hill cake shop.

Her Barrie business, Cakes By Design, was born in the kitchen of a long-shuttered Montessori School in the city where Mayrl and business partner Michelle Doo baked after hours.

This month the custom cake entrepreneurs are celebrating their 13th anniversary at the shop's Toronto Street location. 

"We were the first dedicated cake shop around here to open up, whether it was all of Simcoe County, I'm not sure," recalls Mayrl. "There were a lot of bakeries that were making cakes but we're the first dedicated cake shop, cake boutique, offering custom cake designs."

There are now a couple of cake shops in Barrie and Mayrl says it's a tough industry to be in.   

"We're all doing something a little different and that helps," she said. 

Twenty-one years into her career and thousands of cakes later, Mayrl makes her role clear.

"I'm not a baker. I'm a cake decorator and I know people think it goes hand in hand. Not so much."

Cakes By Design doesn't create all the designs themselves but they do execute them and Mayrl enjoys the variety. 

Whether it's wedding cakes or birthday cakes, the sweets change with the seasons and Mayrl's artistry is not always as relaxing as you might think.

"We're in a time-sensitive business so out front it looks cute and pretty and calm. In the back it can be a little chaotic sometimes because we can only make people's products so far in advance," she explained. 

Sounds a bit like the American reality television show Cake Boss. 

"We just don't yell so much," Mayrl said, laughing. "Not so much yelling and screaming. No drama like that."

It must be tempting to work in a place that cooks up yummy edible art everyday.

But it's the sweets they don't make very often, like shortbread cookies and buttertarts, that are staff favourites.

"It's hard to resist the smell of the butter baking in the shortbreads," Mayrl said. 

From brides to Barbies, fish, tea pots, motorcycles, police badges, drum kits, bunnies and bears - you name it -

Cakes By Design has baked it for birthdays along with their wedding cakes, brownies, scones and all kinds of cookies.

The biggest cakes have been for the City of Barrie on Canada Day which has hired Mayrl and her team to make Canada Day cakes for the last five or six years.

"Typically the cake is about six or seven feet long," said Mayrl. "The height varies every year but it's usually at least 200 or 300 pounds of worth cake and it's enough for about 500 or 600 people."

This year will really put the shop's skills and creativity to the test. 

"This year it's gotta be something pretty special be it that it's the 150th anniversary so we're already starting to brain storm," said Mayrl. 

Cakes By Design is located at 89 Toronto Street.