Moses Lake girl’s cupcake business enjoys sweet success

Columbia Basin Herald, Moses LakeMarch 26, 2013 

— Hannah Chandler loves to bake, especially cupcakes and cakes, and they were good enough her friends were asking her to bake a dozen or so cupcakes and paying her for it.

She started making cupcakes for her friends as a freshman, she said, then got her business going as a sophomore. She works out of the family kitchen. Now a junior, Chandler’s business is growing.

“I do cupcakes and cakes. But mostly I concentrate on cupcakes. It (her business) is called Hannah Banana’s Cupcakes,” she said.

She’s got a busy summer planned already. “I have a wedding for 200 cupcakes,” among other jobs, she said.

Chandler has been playing around in the kitchen all her life, she said. “When I was little I would experiment with things.” She likes cupcakes rather than cakes because it’s possible to get really intricate and creative in the decorating.

Customers can get almost any cupcake they want. “I’ve made lemon, strawberry, the normal chocolate and vanilla, coffee, mint. Pretty much anything,” Hannah said.

Her own favorite are s’mores cupcakes, made with graham cracker flour, a chocolate ganache and marshmallow frosting. “And I have one of those torches to heat frosting,” she said.

Most of the recipes come from a book of cupcake and cake recipes, with a little adjusting by Chandler. “I kind of tweak the recipes a little bit,” she said.

In addition, the cupcake book was not designed for a commercial setup. Sometimes it’s enough to double or triple the recipes, sometimes she needs to convert the measurements to weights. Some recipes are OK for cakes or cupcakes, but “some are better for just cupcakes,” she said.

Timing is important in baking, and not just making cupcakes. Chandler said she starts preparing for a big job a couple of days ahead, but not too far ahead. “You can freeze them, but I feel like that’s not as fresh.” On big jobs it can be a rush to the finish, Hannah said.

Most of her kitchen experience is limited to baking. “I’m not into the cooking or anything. I’ve tried cooking. It’s not my thing.”

Besides, baking offers plenty of opportunity for experimentation, and requires all the attention to detail Hannah, a self-described perfectionist, could want.

Take strawberry cupcakes, and a lesson learned from a baking mistake. “If you put too many strawberries in them, the cupcakes are going to be soggy,” she said. Other cupcakes produced other lessons. “I’ve tried lemon cupcakes that were really dry and I had to redo them. Or if you’re not patient with buttercream frosting, it can be lumpy.” Mistakes in baking can be frustrating, because the re-dos can take a while, Chandler said.

“I wasn’t expecting to take it (her business) this far,” she said. Hannah Banana’s Cupcakes has a Facebook page and she’s got business cards at her grandparents’ UPS office in Moses Lake.

She said she’s not sure if she wants a culinary career, but even if she decides to do something else, “I would like to keep my business on the side.”

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