Home-based cake businesses take back the custom-cake industry

West Orange home-based cake businesses add a dash of special, a pinch of sweetness and a whole lot of love to family occasions.

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  • | 11:59 a.m. March 29, 2016
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The next time you want to order a cake, consider calling your neighbor.

Across West Orange, experienced cake bakers have started home-based cake businesses. Some have backgrounds in high-end bakeries, while others learned their craft through family recipes. 

The proliferation of cake businesses throughout the community represents a growing interest in custom-made cakes, through reality baking shows on television and ideas pinned on the social media site Pinterest.

Milena Hidalgo Romagosa

Sachi Sweets

Horizon West

Growing up in Venezuela, Milena Hidalgo Romagosa stayed out of the kitchen. When she married, her husband also did the work in the kitchen, because he was protective of her and did not want her to get hurt. While her husband, who was an artist, was living, they often would paint and create art together. 

When her husband died six years ago, she was faced with a question: “What is it that I want to be now?”

She decided she wanted to do something her grandchildren would love: become a decorator of cakes and other sweets. 

She quickly learned how to bake from her aunt and used her aunt’s recipes for cake, frosting and fondant. 

For Romagosa,  “Sachi” to family and friends, baking is an extension of the art she began with her husband. Her cakes often look like real-life objects.

“If I made a flower, I try (to make) every petal to be as thin as a real one,” Romagosa said. “You have to be as … real as you can when you create something.” 

Romagosa prefers it when customers allow her to use her creative side rather than ask her to recreate something from Pinterest. 

When taking on a cake project, Romagosa spends time researching to accurately depict her cake. For a book club, she created a cake that resembles a stack of books. To make boat-shaped cake, she spent hours researching the parts of a boat. To create a cake that looks like a wine bottle, she researched the type of grapes — and leaves — that accompany the wine in real life. 

To talk to Romagosa about ordering a cake, contact her at (407) 865-4660. View her work on Instagram @sachisweets. 

Lia Brigner

Couture Cakes by Lia

Horizon West    

Lia Brigner started her company more than a year ago, but she has been in the baking and pastry industry for more than 14 years. 

Courtesy of Corner House Photography
Courtesy of Corner House Photography

“Food has always been a huge part of my family’s life,” she said. “So baking with my mom and grandma was a very frequent occurrence. I just have so many fond memories of being in the kitchen with my family and good times all around, that I knew from a very early age that I wanted to be in the baking and pastry industry.”

And she did follow that passion: She earned degrees in food service entrepreneurship and bakery and pastry arts from Johnson & Wales University. 

She worked at the Ritz Carlton in Palm Beach and Orlando, and she was recruited to open the Waldorf Astoria Orlando, where she became the senior pastry sous chef.  

But she majored in entrepreneurship with the goal of starting her own company, so Couture Cakes by Lia was born. 

The company specializes in high-end custom wedding cakes, and she sees an appreciation growing for high-end work, based on reality baking shows that showcase elaborate cakes. 

To make a high-end wedding cake, Brigner takes months of preparation and likes to meet with brides six months to a year before the wedding. 

When she meets with the brides, she likes to have them share their colors and photos of centerpieces and other decorations that will be used in the wedding, so she can get the feel of the wedding. 

Because many of the decorations on the cake need time to dry, she spends 40 to 80 hours actually creating each cake, making each cake unique. 

“I promise each guest that no two cakes I make will ever be the same,” she said. 

In the wedding industry, there’s a push toward feminine, soft cakes, with intricate lace detailing and delicate, wafer paper flowers. 

She has a shared meeting space that she uses to meet with clients, but as a cottage food operator, she bakes many of her products from home. To assure her clients of the quality of her safety and sanitation, she received her manager’s food certification. 

For more information, visit couturecakesbylia.com



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