Caked Up Café brings luxury treats to Rockland

New City spot Caked Up Café could be called many things, but it is certainly not your average bakery. Owned and operated by local caterer-turned-baker Denise Byrnes, the now well-known café  opened in 2013 after Byrnes’ efforts to make pastries and cakes for loved ones grew too large for her own home kitchen.

“For a long time it was just a family and friends type of thing,” Byrnes explained. “We started having cakes in every fridge and it was getting out of hand…My son had passed (this location) by and said, ‘Hey Mom, there’s cakes in every fridge. Maybe you should start think about doing this more professionally.’”

Byrnes soon moved her operation into a small location on a side street in New City. Today, that space houses the oven and refrigerators for their bakery/café on Demarest Street, which Caked Up moved into six years ago.

With the larger location, Byrnes and her team—which includes her husband and daughter—have plenty of room to prepare and sell one of their main sources of revenue: cupcakes. Caked Up makes approximately 90 flavors of cupcakes in total, with 30 to 34 varieties being made and sold daily. Especially popular, if not unusual, flavors include maple-bacon, chicken-and-waffle, and chocolate-chip pancake.

At her pop-up store in Manhattan (which ran for seven months in 2019 until the start of the pandemic), Byrnes also sold more savory flavors, such as grilled-cheese-and-tomato-soup and bleu-cheese cupcakes, each one decorated with a tiny hot wing on top.

Beyond cupcakes, Caked Up’s other primary specialty is its custom cakes. While Byrnes is no stranger to making these cakes for celebrities, having baked for public figures like singer Rhianna and basketball player Kevin Durant, she especially enjoys making anything out of the box. When asked her favorite cake she’s ever made, Byrnes described a Tim Burton-themed wedding cake, each tier themed with a different selection of the acclaimed filmmaker’s movies and characters.

Each confectionary creation takes a significant amount of time and care, so Byrnes suggests planning ahead for your next big celebration.

“Some people don’t realize that we make our own sugar work,” said Byrnes. “So someone will call up asking for a custom cake and ask, ‘What is your timeline?’. We’ll ask when do you need it and they’ll say ‘today.’…Maybe they’re thinking that we just take everything and put it on the cake, like we have a box from Amazon or something. But everything we make is sculpted and handmade.”

While doing custom orders on a tight turnaround can be frustrating, Byrnes feels a sense of satisfaction and gratitude every time she sees someone enjoy one of her tasty treats.

“I really like doing custom cakes because people get a big kick out of it,” Byrnes said. “That’s a lot of fun.”

“I think one of the big reasons for the success of this store is that she cares,” added Byrnes’ husband, Kevin. “From day one to this day, 10 years after she started she still cares about everything. It’s not just being a perfectionist—she cares.”

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