Tessa’s Bakery is situated in a rather obscure location (especially for one who is positioned all the way on the other side of Cape Town). I was rather apprehensive in this regard, but a part of me believed that perhaps I was travelling on a journey to some faraway, mystical land. This ‘fairytale land’ turned out to be the pot of gold at the end of a magnificent rainbow!
And how befitting, because Tessa’s Bakery is known for just that – rainbow and unicorn cakes with all the trimmings to make my inner six-year-old jump for joy.
Ever since Tessa’s Bakery opened shop to the public in 2012, they have been churning out the most sensational baked creations. The reviews that come with them speak only of delightful sweet treats, a smattering of buttery savoury quiches, and incredibly moist cakes on offer. It was no wonder, then, that I discovered their Instagram account and got in touch with Tessa’s Bakery to organize a little interview for the sake of shedding light on Cape Town’s best-kept secret.
I was fortunate to meet the owner and mastermind behind Tessa’s Bakery – including the entire family! Everybody working at Tessa’s is kind and gentle. The pleasant smiles that I was greeted with only made me feel all warm and moist inside, quite like the delicious cakes that I got to taste! This is truly a family-run business, and Tessa’s revival of good ol’ fashioned cakes makes you feel right at home, sweet home.
“My mom was always a fantastic cook but never baked. After the birth of my children I went to college for a cake decorating course and it was here that I fell in love with the craft of baking and decorating,” Tessa tells me of her first fond memories that stirred up her passion for baking.
It’s no secret that I ordered the blog’s first birthday cake from Tessa’s. The ordering process was fairly simple, but what struck me by surprise was the fact that it can be done online! Tessa’s even makes a special concession for ‘emergency’ celebration cakes, and you can order a cake three days prior to your occasion.
Upon collection, Tessa’s warmhearted daughter-in-law, Des, hands me a box filled with cupcakes to try out. There is a tag tied to the ribbon holding the box together. It playfully reads, “A balanced diet is a cupcake in each hand.”
The variations inside are Turkish delight, red velvet cheesecake, a rather sizable mini red velvet, carrot cake, Ferrero Rocher & Lindt.
These cupcakes didn’t even make it to my house whole, as I greedily gobbled bites of them on the journey back home. If you want to know which ones were my favourites, I will tell you this much: buy them all and save yourself the hassle of trying to choose! At between R6,00 (for mini) to about R20,00 a pop, your wallet will not really care how many cupcakes you order! They remain delectable and fresh for a good few days, so space them out if you must – but try them all, you must!
“We only use pure ingredients – real butter, eggs and sugar for the cake batter and buttercream icings!” Des muses about the bakery’s philosophy to remain true to natural ingredients. What is buttercream without butter, after all? I am a butter enthusiast and of recent years, people have unfortunately traded the liquid gold in for cheaper and less tasteful models. Truth be told, Des didn’t have to affirm what I already knew – you can taste the butter in everything. And boy, is it good.
The cake that I selected for the blog’s birthday was from Tessa’s signature ‘rainbows and unicorns’ collection. I am so pleased to note that the lofty, layered cake that I collected was even more beautiful and intricately decorated in its life-size form.
The rainbow/unicorn cake is incredibly attractive. Each cake layer consists of all the different colours of the rainbow spectrum, flavoured with its own unique fruity flavour. The layers are sandwiched between a rich buttercream icing, and the cake itself is iced with a thick smearing of the very same. On the top layer, a generous drizzle of white chocolate ganache blankets the pretty rainbow frosting – note here that white chocolate ganache is a weakness of mine!
The toppings are breathtaking – meringues, macarons, astro-style sweets, a luxuriant white chocolate shard, pink caramel popcorn galore – and a stunning gold unicorn horn to complete the cake that little girls’ dreams are made of!
Completely smitten with my gorgeous cake, I enquire about the bakery’s design process.
“It is really a team effort. Myself, and my daughter-in-law (Des) are always looking at trends on social media, and give broad directions to our creative team at the bakery, who comes up with our amazing cakes. My son comes up with themes around holidays and will brainstorm with our creative team and photograph the end result, and we will then run promotions around these themes,” Tessa replies.
This in itself can prove that the family-run business doesn’t play games when it comes to getting down to actual business.
And what of the rewards that come with working in this industry?
“The most rewarding part is our family at the bakery. A lot of the staff came in as cleaners and have now been trained as bakers and confectioners. We always believe in uplifting and growing each of our staff. It is also rewarding when we read the comments on our social media about how much people love our cakes, we sometimes have to pinch ourselves to make sure we aren’t dreaming.”
This answer moves me a little and I feel the urge to find out more about this lovely woman. I ask her what she would’ve been doing had she not been in her current line of work.
“My biggest love has always been my family, so if I weren’t baking that would be my focus, being a mom and ‘Yiayia’ (granny).”
To end off, we discuss what Tessa would like people to think of when they hear the name, “Tessa’s Bakery”. Her reply is succinct and simple.
“Homemade, quality, trendy cakes.”
Well, I would say that Tessa and her loving team have definitely managed to conjure up these thoughts in my own mind.
I can imagine that visiting this little world of sweets on a bad day will only turn my frown upside down. It’s the first time I’ve ever believed that a bakery actually holds the power to heal. And Tessa’s is now officially on my ‘to-do list’ for every special occasion to come!
TFF had a little fun in the kitchen with Tessa, and we got to ask her what she would choose, given the following options. Here are her answers: –
- Sweet or savoury? Sweet
- Oven or stove? Oven
- Cookies or cake? Cake
- Vanilla or chocolate? Vanilla
- Buttercream or whipped cream? Whipped Cream
- Strawberries or blueberries? Blueberries
- Pecans or cashews? Cashews
- Scones or muffins? Scones (with jam and cream!)
- Tea or coffee? Tea
- Breakfast or dinner? Dinner
Tessa’s Bakery Contact Details: –
Unit 5, The Gables
Montague Gardens (Northern Suburbs)
Tel: +27 21 551 6107
Monday – Friday
08h00 – 17h00
08h00 – 14h00