Happen Bakers: Nicole Barens



I'm sorry, that was unnecessary and embarrassing.  It's just that I'm excited for the next young, ambitious and creative baker to join the Happen Bakers club, and this girl is all of that and more.

Meet Nicole Barens: a 16 year-old self-taught baker from Cleveland, Ohio.  Not only does Nicole whip up stunning desserts for fun (as seen on her Instagram page), but this teenager has a 2 year-old thriving business in her town.  A business!  (When I was her age, I sold beanie babies at a gift shop for money.)  Through word-of-mouth and social media, she works on 4-5 orders a month, and that's on top of being a normal 16 year-old... hanging out with friends, working on calligraphy (her favorite hobby) and attending high school (biology being her favorite subject... talk about well-rounded!).  Relatively new to the craft, she started learning through observation and experimentation.  Once it was apparent that her creations were more than just yummy treats (check out that cake below), the logical next step was to sell her cakes.  As much as she loves the artistic side of baking, the business aspect has always fascinated her... and after learning more about her in the interview below, I'm sure you'll agree that a successfully bakery is in her future :)

When did you start baking?

I started baking when I was about 14.  I grew up watching shows like Cake Boss and Cake Wars, and I was always so intrigued.

How did you learn?

I learned mostly from YouTube tutorials and baker's blogs.  It took a lot of practice and trial and error!

What do you love most about it?

I think I love it so much because I'm so creative and I've also always been interested in business...

What's the most challenging thing you've attempted?

I'd have to say the hardest cake I made was a Cassata cake because it had so many elements and it was one of the first times I had worked with fondant, which was really hard at first, but I've gotten better at it.

What's your dream dessert?

My dream dessert is probably anything with chocolate and peanut butter (that's why I chose to make a Reese's cake for this post, haha).

Name 3 celebrities you'd love to bake with...

If I could bake with 3 famous people they would be Taylor Swift, Emma Chamberlain and Jenna Joseph.

Most epic kitchen fail?

Through my learning process, I've had so many fails, but one of the worst has to be my macaron fail. They did not turn out at ALL, it was so bad.  Now that I've had a lot more experience with baking I think it would come out better.  My family still jokes about it three years later!

Any favorite songs you listen to in the kitchen?

I love to listen to music!  Some of my favorite artists recently have been Billie Eilish, The 1975 and Halsey.

Favorite food site or YouTube channel?

I've been watching a few of Chelsweet's videos on YouTube recently.  I also get a lot of inspiration from people on Instagram, such as @brittanymaycakes, @whiteflowercakeshoppe, and @treatsbytay.

When you're not baking, you are...

When I'm not baking I'm at school.  Most of my free time is taken up by my business!

Where do you see yourself in 10 years? 

Hopefully I'll have my own bakery because not only do I love baking as a creative outlet, I also like the business aspect of it.

Nicole would rather not reveal her *top secret* recipe (and I don't blame her!), but she did give us a step-by-step tutorial on how she created this fabulous Reese's Chocolate Cake...

To make the Reese's cake, I baked three 6" round layers of chocolate cake.  I then made a peanut butter buttercream and frosted the whole cake.  Before adding the ganache drips, I chilled the cakes in the fridge.  While it was in the fridge, I heated some heavy cream on the stove, turned off the heat, then added some bittersweet chocolate chips.  I then added the ganache drips to the cake and put in back in the fridge to set.  Once the ganache was set, I added the top border with a Wilton 1M tip.  I also added some chopped up Reese's cups around the border, and put some halved Reese's cups in between each swirl.

Thank you Nicole, you're an inspiration to us all!
And let me know when you start shipping across country :)

*All photos shot by Nicole's friend @photogenikate


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