Ashley Kosowan (left) and Jenna Rae HutchisonPhotos courtesy of Jenna Rae Cakes
Ashley Kosowan (left) and Jenna Rae Hutchison
Photos courtesy of Jenna Rae Cakes

Q&A with Jenna Rae Cakes

Ashley Kosowan (left) and Jenna Rae HutchisonPhotos courtesy of Jenna Rae Cakes
Ashley Kosowan (left) and Jenna Rae Hutchison
Photos courtesy of Jenna Rae Cakes

WINNIPEG, MANITOBA — For cake bakeries, prepping for the different seasons is a never-ending quest. Bakers start trendspotting for upcoming seasons at least two quarters ahead, keeping their eyes and ears open for what’s on the horizon, from flavor profiles, to decorations, to shapes and sizes.

Craft to Crumb chatted with Jenna Hutchison, one-half of the dynamic baking duo that owns Jenna Rae Cakes, about what she and co-owner (and twin sister) Ashley Kosowan are seeing in cake trends.

To start, share a little bit about Jenna Rae Cakes.

Jenna Rae Hutchison: Jenna Rae Cakes is a boutique bakery that opened in 2014 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. I had seen an episode of Cake Boss and thought, ‘I can do that!’ I had always enjoyed baking with my mom and twin sister Ashley as a kid, and it was a fun way to be creative and as an adult.

When I started baking and decorating cakes, I realized how much I loved it, and so Jenna Rae Cakes was born! We sell custom-designed cakes and sweet treats including our popular macarons, cookie sandwiches, cupcakes and more.

We have three locations across Winnipeg. In addition to our retail bakeries, we have a line of liquid flavors and other gift and lifestyle items available for shipping. We released our first cookbook, Jenna Rae Cakes and Sweet Treats, in 2020 and have two more books on the way.

What’s trending in cakes right now in terms of flavors, colors, shapes and decorations?

Hutchison: I’ve been seeing a lot of florals for spring. Whether it’s buttercream florals, fresh flowers or sugar flowers, flowers are everywhere. I’ve also seen a lot of edible pressed flowers being used on cakes and cookies that really add a beautiful touch. I think all these floral trends can lend themselves to all the spring occasions, which is why we see them so often every spring.

How far in advance of a season do you start trendspotting?

Hutchison: I notice trends start happening a bit before, but I always try to keep in mind that once you see a trend popping up, it’s usually too late. You’re behind the curve already! There are some trends to jump on, of course, but I like staying creative and coming up with new things, not only doing what I think is “trendy” at the moment.

Keeping up with trends means a lot of advance planning. How do you balance having just the right amount of ingredients, frosting and decorative touches?

Hutchison: We like staying creative and are sometimes even ahead of the trends — someone has to start them, too! If we do jump on a trend, we tread lightly, knowing it will only be for a short time because things don’t typically trend for long, especially in this day and age.

Everything is custom made for each cake going out the door, so we don’t run into issues with overstock of decorative touches sitting on shelves in our kitchen. Even with trending color palettes, we’ll make everything in small batches for each cake going out, with a few extra just in case. It helps keep everything manageable for our team.

What trends are you seeing for summer and fall?

Hutchison: When I’ve been talking to couples who are getting married in the summer and fall, light and airy wafer paper designs, all white cakes, and the transition of real flowers back to sugar flowers are all coming up frequently. I’m thrilled to see sugar flowers making a comeback. They’re beautiful, timeless and really make a cake look phenomenal. One of my favorite things is coming up with fresh new designs for the summertime weddings, and it’s shaping up to be a beautiful summer.

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