- March 7, 2022
Eleven-year-old Camilla Cardenas’ dream is to become a baker and own her own brick-and-mortar bakery.
The young Baldwin Park resident first opened her online store, Camilla’s Bakery, when she was only 8 years old.
One of Camilla’s earliest memories of baking was around that time when she posted her first video of her baking carrot cupcakes on YouTube.
“I asked my mom to help me create my own YouTube channel so that I could bake on it,” she says. “I think everybody really liked that recipe. I posted it, because I was selling them, and it was really popular. I still watch the video. Now that I look back at the videos, it’s kind of funny, because I mispronounce some things. I didn’t really know that much when I was younger, but it was still really fun.”
Camilla’s mother, Silvia Cardenas, says she has never been a huge fan of the kitchen, but her daughter has been baking even before she decided to start her own business.
“She has always been very independent, and as she got older, she wanted to do more and more things on her own,” Silvia Cardenas says. “Even though I would not bake, she would ask me if she could do it and experiment in the kitchen. She has always just been drawn to it. She loves it.”
Camilla is self-taught and learned to bake from watching videos, reading baking books that her mother bought for her from the bookstore, and from her grandma.
Silvia Cardenas says although Camilla and her grandmother are both good bakers, they have different styles.
“Camilla likes to go very fast,” Silvia Cardenas says, laughing. “At the end, what actually happens is Camilla does everything and my mother-in-law is helping clean-up.”
One of the only times Silvia Cardenas will join her daughter in baking is around the holidays.
She says the two make Christmas cookies together and deliver them to neighbors.
Silvia Cardenas says Camilla is always making new things for the family to try and even hosts small baking competitions with her friends. The young girls copy a recipe or make their own before bribing their siblings to try the sweets.
Silvia Cardenas also says the family has had to set rules around baking. She says she lets Camilla bake whenever she wants and the family will always try what she makes, but they will then throw away the leftovers. She says this stems from the effect she saw on the family’s health when consuming desserts and sweets every day — especially when being stuck inside during the pandemic.
Camilla’s favorite part about baking is measuring all of the ingredients and mixing them together, but her least favorite part is watching the items bake, because of the time it takes.
One of her favorite things she baked was an enormous hamburger cake.
“The patty was cake, and I used candy to make the lettuce,” she says. “I shaped the bun with cake, too, and I remember my grandma helping me and us making it together. We even made the cheese out of fondue. It took me like half of the day to make.”
Some of Camilla’s more popular items include the carrot cupcakes and Oreo truffles. She sells mostly to people she knows.
Camilla has not been making videos for her YouTube channel lately because of her heavy school load and multiple extracurricular activities. She plays tennis, participates in cheerleading, plays piano and even sings in a rock band with her friends. She also loves to act.
Although she has a busy schedule, she says her biggest goal and love has not changed.
“There’s really nothing I want to do or be more than a baker,” she says.
Silvia Cardenas says it has been amazing for her to see her daughter find something she loves to do at such a young age.
“At the beginning, I thought maybe it would just be something that she liked or wanted to do in her free time, but I can see how passionate she is about it,” she says. “We have tried to expose her to many other things, but it’s true what she says about not seeing herself doing anything she loves as much as baking. I can just see if you let her pick what she would like to do, she would be in the kitchen baking.”
Silvia Cardenas has suggested Camilla to possibly pursue business school, so she can have options and knowledge on the baking business she hopes to open.
The mother says she had an interview with a chef from Publix Aprons Cooking School, where she explained to him she was looking for baking classes for her daughter, but all she could find was basic classes Camilla would not enjoy.
“He told me that unfortunately because of her age, it would be a novelty for any company to have baking classes and let her participate, because she is so young and could hurt herself without someone watching her,” Silvia Cardenas says. “He suggested to me that she can participate in online classes — if I am watching her, it would be my responsibility. He said when Camilla is around 14 years old she will be able to get into more adult baking programs.”
Silvia Cardenas signed Camilla up for her first adult baking class online, which Camilla says was a challenge and different than what she is typically used to in the kitchen. Instead of decorating cookies and cakes, the students made elevated desserts with items from scratch.
Silvia Cardenas says she attended the classes with Camilla and was lost after only a few minutes, but Camilla did everything and followed the class even though she was the only child.
“She would be a bit shy and ask me to ask questions for her,” Silvia Cardenas says. “I could see then that she was learning. Sometimes when she tries new recipes, of course, like anything in life, she would make mistakes and everything would be bad in the end. … I could see it was upsetting for her, but I could also see she was learning what worked and what did not. She would start over and try again.”
Camilla says she hopes to continue to learn and that she can share her love of baking with the world.