B&B spoke with Annandale based baker Ayesha Ahmad. She is the owner of Simply Scrumptious an cupcake catering business. Ahmad has a flair for baking and has unique flavors such as the Kashmiri Chai Cupcake and lemon blueberry with cream cheese. College student by day and baking extrodinare at other times, we asked Ayesha about her business and her passion for baking.
BB: How and when did you get into baking?
AA: I used to watch Barefoot Contessa and Paula’s Home Cooking on the Food Network every single day in middle and high school. I loved how simple they made everything look! Their desserts were really the start and I began experimenting in my kitchen. I guess I was the less studious child so whenever I was “sick” I used to stay home and bake cakes. Initially, I just used boxed mixes and played around with colored frostings. Now I love to bake pretty much anything but cupcakes have just become my signature.
BB: How did your family feel about it?
AA: I don’t think I could have asked for a more supportive family! My parents are so encouraging about everything – they try all my new flavors, buy me every supply on a cake bakers wishlist, give me tips on what I could do better and so on. I remember randomly talking to my dad one day about how KitchenAid mixers are the quintessential tool for any baker. The following week, I came home to a huge box and inside was a baby pink mixer, complete with every nifty attachment. Alhamdulillah for such loving parents. My older sister on the other hand is my toughest critic! I guess It’s better to hear all the negative things from her than a client though! Oh and I can’t forget about my friends. They were and still are some of the most helpful people. Sometimes I consider adding them to the company name.BB: Are you studying culinary arts in college? Would this be a career or long term goal?
AA: Far from! I started out in college as an undeclared student but took all the Biology classes because I knew I wanted to do something in the health field. I recently changed my major to Community Health and I want to become a dental hygienist in the future insha’Allah. Everyone finds it amusing that I want to clean teeth and bake cupcakes – oh the irony! I could see myself opening a Cakery in the distant future but catering for special orders is fine by me too.
BB: You have become a successful entrepreneur at such a young age masha’Allah!! How has that been coming along? What has been your biggest order?
AA: It’s more of a hobby-turned-business and I enjoy it very much. It can be a little stressful since I’m still in school, especially if the order falls sometime during the semester but it just takes some planning and time management. My last order was one of my biggest with a little over 200 cupcakes for a wedding reception. A hundred each of red velvet with cream cheese frosting and chocolate espresso with espresso buttercream. Before Simply Scrumptious began, I used to bake a lot for MSA events at school Qabeelat Nurayn bakesales (DMV chapter of AlMaghrib Institute) so they really helped with advertising my business.
BB: What is your favorite type of cake?
AA: I actually like any type of cake…except tres leche. I can’t taste the difference between the three milks and it seems a bit too wet for my liking. But by far, my favorite cake is regular ol pound cake. No icing, nothing. Its literally the best thing ever…I mean whats not to like? A pound of butter, eggs, sugar and flour 🙂
BB: A Recipe you have yet to try?
AA: Tons! I always bookmark any good recipes I come across and save them for a rainy day. I love to experiment with cake flavors and frosting’s so it’s nice to have some inspirations. I have four massive cupcake books with so many things I have yet to try. The first on my list is an Apple pie cupcake – I’m just waiting for apple picking season to make it’s way over.
BB: How do you feel about Georgetown Cupcakes?
AA: I think that’s the question I get asked most often. I never figured out if it’s because they are my competition? I like to think of it as the other way around, though I’ve actually never tried Georgetown Cupcakes but they look so yummy. Maybe one day when I feel like waiting in line for an hour, I’ll go. If I were to try one, I’d get either the coconut or chocolate hazelnut cupcake.
BB: Any beginners advice to aspiring bakers?
AA: Just make sure you always have a fresh supply of eggs and butter and friends who don’t mind being volunteer tasters (hey, if they love you, a few pounds won’t matter) also don’t get discouraged! I still have so many instances when something gets burned or things are overly sweet etc – that’s the stuff I don’t post pictures of. Always remember that there are usually plenty of failures leading up to success and that’s when everything tastes the sweetest (pun intended). Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala put in each of us something that makes us unique. I always remember something Shaykh Waleed Basyouni said during an AlMaghrib seminar. He said, “Allah gave you a gift. What you do with it is your gift back to Allah.” Know that you can serve the Ummah in a way that no one else can. It’s your duty to find what Allah gave you and hone those skills.
For more information about Simply Scrumptious please check out her facebook page