After over a decade of providing Aucklanders with some of their favourite cakes for countless birthdays, weddings and Valentine’s Days – and for no reason at all other than they’re delicious – The Caker is closing the doors to its Karangahape Road bakery.
“The time has come to announce that one of the facets of my brand, my Auckland bakery, is closing its doors after 10 years to make way for me and The Caker to grow in other ways,” LA-based founder Jordan Rondel said in an Instagram post on the weekend.
Customers will have until September 3 to pick up any cake orders, and the team will be running “iconic end-of-an-era” releases over the next month.
Jordan is a self-taught baker who, in 2010, made the decision to turn her passion into a career before opening the K’ Road shop in 2013. Her pared-back aesthetic, along with a preference for avoiding artificial colourants and swathes of fondant, paved the way for a new kind of commercial cake. This has led to five recipe books, many television appearances, and a host of premium kits for cakes you can assemble and bake at home.
Full disclosure: Jordan and her sister, Anouk Rondel (who joined The Caker as co-owner and COO in 2015), are good friends of mine, and I’ve benefitted immensely from my proximity to their cakes over the years. Under the expert guidance of bakery manager Eli Christy-Munro, The Caker created my wedding cake, and some of our guests went back for third helpings. As with all their creations, it was a far cry from any ideas you might have of dry wedding cakes with sickly icing.
The Caker’s treats are instantly recognisable – both by look and by taste. Artful decorations favour an organic kind of asymmetry: fresh-cut flowers, swirls of berry coulis, dark-chocolate buttercream, crumbled nuts. You can tell they were made by hand, the ripples from the baking paper still showing on the sides.
Among other high-quality ingredients, varying levels of almond flour give each cake a moist and wholesome texture, and there’s nearly always a fresh-fruit component. I couldn’t tell you the number of times I’ve eaten the lemon and raspberry cake (the most popular flavour) or the matcha cherry cake (my ride or die) – but I can tell you I’ve probably scraped the plate clean every single time.
Jordan and Anouk moved to LA in 2019 in order to break into the American market – and this is partly why the Auckland store is closing. The logistics of overseeing the bakery from there (especially since the pandemic) were unsustainable.
“The difficulty of running a business from afar when you’re not there, that’s really relevant to a lot of operators,” Jordan tells Broadsheet from LA. “The truth is, I guarantee if we had been there [in New Zealand], we wouldn’t be closing.”
When your face and name are associated so closely with a business, she continues, it can be hard to step back and consider it objectively. She’s looking forward to having the mental space to plan The Caker’s next steps and home in on other avenues for growth.
“The focus is going to shift really towards the cake kits. I want to keep innovating in that space, with even more direct focus,” says Jordan. “They’ve done exactly what I intended them to, which is be the more scalable aspect – which means more people can experience great cake. I think, what a beautiful thing to still be in people’s homes, albeit in a slightly different form.”
Asked what she’s most proud of, Jordan says it’s about the community who’ve rallied around The Caker. “The support is so incredible. It makes me so proud, like I must have done something right to make this many people feel something about the brand.”
In her Instagram post, she says it’s “heartbreaking” to be ending this part of The Caker’s journey. But, as she tells us, “Good things don’t have to last forever.”
You’ll still be able to find her cake kits at supermarkets across New Zealand (they’re also now available in Australia at David Jones), and Jordan will continue travelling back and forth between LA and Aotearoa for collaborations – as well as another TV gig, coming to New Zealand screens in December.
And while Jordan’s been getting plenty of messages from people who are looking forward to seeing her next move, it won’t be a complete change in direction. “It’s not like I’m going to suddenly become an ice-cream maker – I’ve already built the foundations of what I’m going to keep growing. It’ll be a natural evolution.”
The Caker’s last day at 446 Karangahape Road will be September 3, 2023.