For Afton native Erika Rickard, baking takes the cake.
Rickard, 39, launched the brick-and-mortar realization of Erika’s Cakery at 29R W. Main St. in Bainbridge in late November.
Rickard said her passion for pastry began decades ago.
“Baking was always just my happy place,” she said. “I’ve been doing it ever since I was little. I started by watching my grandmother at her kitchen island making pies and cinnamon buns, then I took it a step further, went to BOCES in high school and did their commercial foods program, then decided after seeing both ends of it — regular food and baking — that I wanted to do baking. I started looking at culinary schools and picked Pennsylvania Culinary (Institute) in Pittsburgh and went there two weeks after graduating from high school.”
Rickard said, though she worked at the Duquesne Club in Pittsburgh, then started a restaurant in North Carolina, family life called her home and she returned to Afton to raise children in 2010. It was at that time, she said, that Erika’s Cakery began as a home business, though she also worked as a baker for Vincent’s in Afton and as the pastry chef at Afton’s Main Street Grill & Bakery.
It took time and the COVID-19 pandemic to bring her business to downtown Bainbridge, Rickard said.
“It exploded over COVID and I had to expand,” she said. “I’ve always wanted a brick-and-mortar, we just didn’t have the funds, so we’ve just been saving up over the years and finally had a good amount so that, when everything shut down in March, by June, I got really serious about trying to find a place. We just fell in love with the Bainbridge atmosphere, and it just feels like home; as opposed to trying to open in other places, here, everybody wants you to succeed and will do anything to help.”
The bakery, Rickard said, offers “just about everything.” Customer favorites, she said, include fresh-from-the-oven cinnamon buns.
“We have a variety of things, from breakfast items like cinnamon buns, coffee cake, scones and pecan rolls, to brownies, cannolis, cream puffs, cheesecakes and some cakes. Not everything is available every day, because I’m just one person, but there’s always a variety and something somebody will love.”
Variety and quality, Rickard said, have yielded an enthusiastic and far-reaching clientele.
“It’s a pretty broad range,” she said. “We had two 10-year-olds come in here for a little playdate and eat a cinnamon bun, then we have older clients that will come in for a coffee and cinnamon bun in the morning … so I’d say we cater to just about everybody and you can see a whole range throughout the day. We’ve reached as far as Oneonta.
“Everything tastes amazing and they’re so happy we’re here and something the town has really needed, so that seems to be the general consensus,” Rickard continued. “It’s the look on people’s faces when they have something they really love. My favorite thing of all time is first birthdays, when you have the photos of kids with their first cake all to themselves.”
Rickard said she will continue offering custom cakes for weddings, birthdays and showers.
Rickard said, as Erika’s Cakery establishes itself, she hopes to expand offerings.
“We have space for six people to eat in and we’re hoping to expand and have outside seating,” she said. “And we’re the only place I know of that has cupcake chips, like the drink chips you’d get at a bar, so you can buy yourself or a friend cupcakes. We are going to be adding more stuff to our menu and (putting) our bagels into the regular rotation of items, so we’ll be adding more bread items and more cakes and we’re going to be doing a separate holiday menu, so people can order a breakfast tray for the holiday morning and that takes all the stress out of it.” Rickard said she will take holiday orders through Dec. 19.
Erika’s Cakery is open from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday; 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday; and 6 a.m. to noon Sunday.
For more information, find “Erika’s Cakery” on Facebook or call 607-320-4091.