Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Designer desserts

Today I would like to introduce you to the wonderful team at Cupcakes by Design, stationed in the Cape Town area. Dot and Grace are in fact twin sisters and they really are two of the nicest people I know. They’re friendly and enthusiastic, and they always go the extra mile. Oh, and did I mention they also bake and decorate the most fabulous cakes and cupcakes you’ve ever seen? Just check this out:

I asked them some questions, so let’s hear what they had to say…

How did you get into baking?

Grace: Dot and I have been baking for most of our lives and we really enjoyed making tasty cakes. When our kids were born (Dot’s eldest is 11), we started baking birthday cakes. Or rather, Dot started baking cakes. She was really adventurous! I remember we used fondant for the first time with her son Alex’s first birthday. Dot made a cake with this funky clown jumping out of a box. We had so much fun! 
For my son Kellan’s birthdays I used to order cakes from an awesome cake decorator, but around his fourth birthday she told me she was no longer making cakes. So I said: How hard can it be? I made a 3D Thomas the Tank Engine cake myself, and that’s when the bug bit me. I’ve been making cakes ever since. 
Our cakes have always tasted amazing, and we’ve found a way to build on that and make them look awesome, too.

Dot: I’ve always loved making everything special for my four kids’ birthday parties.  I love to bake, including my own fancy breads for everyday use. It was a few years of trial and error and experimenting with fondant and buttercream before our skills caught up with our imaginations! Now, every time one of us makes an amazing cake, it's like we’re thinking: Just how can I top that? 

Tell us more about Cupcakes by Design.

Grace: Dot and I sold our cakes separately to our own client bases for a while. When I did my first wedding, I asked Dot (who is the queen of roses) to help me make the roses for the cupcake tower. When she ended up making them all, I asked her if she’d like to help set up. We had such fun and I felt so relaxed. Having her with me just helped to take away the anxiety. On that day, we decided to do weddings together. Six months later, we decided to combine both our businesses and call ourselves Cupcakes by Design.
We have started presenting fondant modelling classes for adults now and we would love to branch out into regular classes for women who want to learn how to work with fondant.

I think what is great for our work is that at times I've had to copy Grace’s work and she mine, yet we still have different styles that complement each of us.

What inspires you?

Grace: We find inspiration in so many places. Fabric and scrapbooking paper will set us off very easily! We love being on Flickr and find that we are blown away with how creative people are. I really adore flowers and push myself to make different ones all the time.

Dot: I just love food! It is such a weakness! So it’s all about how it tastes and how it looks. I love colour and I have a great friend in textile and fabric design. She really thinks out of the box and I find that after a visit to her studio, my head is bursting and I write down all my new ideas immediately.

Are you considering publishing a cookbook?

Grace: Our goal is to put together a pretty cupcake book and to make it either a coffee table book or a cookbook. Can’t give away our double chocolate cake recipe though, it will be bad for business.! It would be great to see our favourite creations in a book one day…

Dot: Yes, this is really a dream, but I’d like us to first hit our peak creatively and skillswise, before we do a book. I’m more partial to a coffee table publication. I love pretty pictures!

Tell us some more about your products and prices.

Our cupcakes start at R15 each. We package cupcakes in singles or in small boxes from R29.50 each. These make excellent gifts. Our cakes start at R195 for mini-cakes (10cm).
Our cakes and cupcakes are all handmade and unique, so we make them to the specifications of our clients. We give a full quote after we know exactly what the client’s needs are. A bride can get a wedding tower for as little as R22 a serving. 

Favourite food? 

Grace: I love food, but my husband’s braaied chicken is out of this world. I adore crusty bread with butter – if it’s fresh out of the oven then I’m in heaven. Dot makes this pizza with mascarpone, onion and olive oil that will make you weep.  
Dot: I love Grace’s Chelsea buns … she’s famous for them. 

Favourite cookbook? 

Grace: Anything Peggy Porschen. My Snowflake baking book is so battered (literally – that’s a cake joke!). If there was a fire, I’d grab that after I chased my kids out of the house. 
Dot: Oh, I have more little bits of paper in my cookbooks than I’ll ever admit! My recipes are in my head...

Favourite foodie film?
Grace: Does Ratatoulle count? 
Dot: What's that one with Cathrine Zeta Jones? Love it!

Favourite ingredient?

Grace: Vanilla bean, or nuts. They go with everything; there’s one to match every ingredient. 
Dot: Mascarpone cheese – sweet or savoury, it rocks!

Favourite restaurant? 

Grace: Pick ‘n’ Pay Café makes these Nutella croissants that my eldest son and I dream about, but for ‘real’ restaurants I’d say Myoga at The Vineyard. I’m more of a coffee house and breakfast-out person, so I just adore high tea at Farriers in Plumstead. And then The Goatshed at Fairview is amazing for their cheese platters. You can’t beat Woolies Café’s hazelnut coffee lattes (skinny, of course) and Knead makes to-die-for food… Oh, I think I just love food. 
Dot: Noop in Paarl is special! Fairview’s Goatshed is one we frequent, and there’s The Coffee Republic in Wellington for their amazing pizza.

If you’d like to order some of their magical creations, contact Grace at or 082 571 0589, or contact Dot at or 083 789 4704. Visit their website for more designs and info, and keep up to date with their Flickr profile.

And by the way, there’s no such thing as leftover cupcakes.


  1. o jissie dis die mooiste cup cakes ooit!

  2. I absolutely love these decorations! And cupcakes! There is no such thing as leftover cupcakes indeed!! They are so beautiful! I LOVE the cows especially. The following three words were said "pretty cupcake book" and i certainly can't wait for it!!What an inspiration you guys are for a future cupcake baker!

  3. I love the cow too! And I love everything about those neon bears, even the background. Aren't the gerberas (Barberton daisies) perfect?

  4. I remember seeing these at a friend's wedding and wondering where they came from. The cupcakes were so beautiful and they matched the decor perfectly! And of course the most important factor, they were out-of-this-world tasty. I'd love to visit their studio and get my hands on that book!

  5. Who ever would have thought that a cupcake can be utilized in such a totally beautiful way. These are NOT just cupcakes, it's little works of art. They look utter beautiful - almost too beautiful to eat. I am now seeing cupcakes in a totally different way. EXCELLENT job! Thank you for sharing this Jolette!

  6. When we visited from New Zealand, we watched the production of these wonderful creations and it was incredible to see.we are so proud of our girls and especially the way they work together and the way their families are all involved and for child minding their husbands are beyond all belief, this is a compleat family creation, a beautiful work of art.