When Daniella Keenan was a little girl, she would help her mother bake cakes. She would measure the flour, butter the pan, and blend the ingredients, as perfectly as her little hands could manage.
Her favorite part was glaring into the oven, watching the cakes rise.
“I would watch the stuff in the oven as it baked because I was just that interested,” she says. When they came out the oven, they would be decorated with sprinkles and icing. Little Daniella would stare at the finished product in delight and awe.
As a teenager, Daniella attended Cab Calloway School of the Arts and majored in drama. That’s where we met. A little rebel with a sarcastic tongue, tattoos, and piercings, she will probably be the first to tell you all the things she dislikes, but there was one thing she just couldn’t dislike…and that was the art of baking.
And so she enrolled in culinary school.
While there, she realized her dream of someday becoming a pastry chef. She remembered back to those childhood years, watching the cakes rise in the oven. “I don’t think I actually dislike anything about making pastries,” she exclaimed.
Cupcakes and Tattoos
Over the years, Daniella inked up, filling her arm with colorful tattoos that were artsy and meaningful. The tattoos have always been a great way to express her creative nature and it was thanks to one of those tattoos that she landed her first pastry chef job.
“It all happened because the manager behind the counter liked my cupcake tattoo and asked if I was a baker,” she recalls. “At the time, I was working at a cake shop. She asked me if I wanted a job and shortly after, I was the new pastry chef at Presto and the Washington Street Ale House!”
Working as a pastry chef gave her the freedom to experiment. She created cupcakes and pastries that would dazzle and delight. She came up with new flavors and got inventive with designs. Soon, everyone wanted to be her friend. When you’re the cupcake lady, everyone’s nice to you.
“A lot of times I feel bad charging people since I’m doing something I love,” she says.
Daniella’s whole world changed when Adalyn came into her life. The beautiful baby girl with big brown eyes and a precious smile made Daniella realize how much she wanted to be home to care for the child.
Working as an executive pastry chef was hard work, even though she loved it. “I never spent so much time at work in my life than when I was working as an executive pastry chef,” she explains. “You have to be ok with it being your life because it definitely will be. If you don’t absolutely love it, find something else or you’re going to end up hating it.”
So she decided to bring the kitchen closer to home. She began her own cake business, aptly named, “Baby Cakes.”
“The biggest perk for me right now is that I can stay home with my baby girl and still do what I love,” she says. She makes everything from the run-of-the-mill red velvet to fancy flavors like pumpkin coffee, chocolate stout cake, and margarita cupcakes.
Everyday is something new and every day is a new adventure. She loves that she can stare into the oven now and know that she’s making a living doing something she loves.
“One day I hope to own my own bakery. Until then, I’m pretty happy making cakes out of my house.”