Boxed cake kits don’t have the best reputation. But baker Jordan Rondel is changing this perception with her next-level cake mixes.
Rondel is a Los Angeles-based New Zealander known as The Caker – a title she’s given herself and her brand, as well as the name of the [bakery she operated in Auckland for 10 years, which closed back in August this year.
Her cake kits launched in New Zealand in 2017 and finally became available in Australia earlier this year. And they’re a serious step up from the vanilla or devil’s food cake mixes many of us remember fondly from childhood.
Save 20% when you buy two or more Broadsheet books. Order now to make sure they arrive in time for Christmas.SHOP NOW
While there are more flavours available overseas, you can currently find two of The Caker’s kits in Oz: the lemon strawberry poppyseed kit and the spiced carrot salted caramel kit. Each comes with all the dry ingredients you need to make an iced single-layer cake, a recipe card and even a pre-cut parchment paper to line your cake tin (cut purposefully oversized to recreate Rondel’s signature ruffled cake edges).
Talking to Broadsheet with her sister and business partner, Anouk Rondel, from their LA kitchen space, Jordan says she’d never baked from cake mixes before launching her own product.
It makes sense, given the sisters first learnt how to bake from their paternal grandparents, who they would visit in France during Auckland school holidays.
Jordan, who had “the baking bone”, says she fell in love with cakes specifically and was “obsessed with baking” as a teenager. It wasn’t long before she started developing her own recipes and posting them on blogging platform Blogspot.
The blog took off and her followers eventually started asking how to purchase Rondel’s cakes. So, she incorporated The Caker in 2010 and started selling her bakes.
Rondel, who is also known for her work as a judge on The Great Kiwi Bake Off, reluctantly admits that – “for lack of a better word” – she was an “it girl” as a young twenty-something in New Zealand. She knew people in the art and fashion worlds, and they eventually started asking her to create cakes for events. Word-of-mouth “work[ed] like wildfire” and the business grew.
Anouk, a former lawyer, joined The Caker shortly after and the two opened a bricks-and-mortar store in Auckland in 2013. The bakery never had a display case, but it quickly became one of the city’s favourite spots for wedding, birthday and other celebration cakes.
Demand quickly outgrew supply. “It was kind of like, we've got this pumping bakery, which can only serve Auckland, and not even the depths of Auckland because fresh cake doesn't travel well. And we were like, ‘How can we reach more people with our cakes?’”
Cake kits were their answer, so they got to work creating a shelf-stable shippable product using the same ingredients and recipes as the bakery. New Zealanders were already familiar with The Caker as a brand, and this helped the kits take off.
The sisters say they always wanted to live overseas and made the move to Los Angeles, California in 2019. Their plans to set up a bricks-and-mortar bakery there were interrupted by Covid, so the duo switched their focus to recreating the cake-kit business in the US.
Eventually Bon Appetit caught on and wrote about the cake kits – according to the pair, the kits practically sold out overnight. Then the dominoes started to fall, with everyone from Forbes to Vogue covering the kits.
With Covid now more under control, the pair are picking up their plans to open a bakery in the US. During their brief time in Los Angeles pre-Covid, they managed to make cakes for Miley Cyrus, Flea, Phoebe Thompson and Penn Badgley – so, if that’s anything to go by, the bakery is sure to be a celebrity favourite. For now, the Rondels are set on staying in California. “It’s such a bizarre place. I love it,” says Jordan.
The Caker cake kits are available at David Jones and retail for $34.95.