Hey There, Aiko Here!
I thought it would be interesting to add a blog to the site so i can share some of the things that go on behind the scenes with Brownies By Aiko and carry you along with me as i continue to learn throughout this journey (#MyBakingJourney). You can read how I started baking here: Aiko: My Baking Journey
They say it takes a village to raise a child. It probably takes a village to start a small business too. It did for me. After i finished my Masters Program in 2015, I would bake for my family – especially on Sundays for some reason. Other times i would bake just for the sake of it with my friend Amina.
My mum had always encouraged me to start baking for people but i always had excuses because I was afraid. I loved the idea of it but I didn’t feel like I was where I needed to be.
I’m not sure how the conversation started but it was probably after watching Katherine Sabbath’s Birthday Cake on Masterchef Australia; all the inspiration and “ginger” i needed kicked in. It’s the most delightful looking cake that I’ve never eaten.
I was home with Mr.M (I still struggle with saying the word ‘husband’ 😂) when we started discussing the possibilities of starting a cake business. Just the mere thought of it was overwhelmingly exciting and sometimes when you say things out and write them down on paper, they just start to happen. We started writing out menus, drawing out plans, working out cost analysis and making sketches of cake boxes / packaging.
I decided to start out by baking a graduation cake for my cousin. The cake was going to be a few inches tall and it wouldn’t fit in a normal cake box so we decided to make our box.
We went out one evening to a shopping complex in Zone 5 to get cardboard and supplies to make this one box. We already had other baking supplies from Mr. Sunny’s shop opposite Jabi Motor Park – That man had almost everything. We also got other things like a turn table, palette knife, all these baking essentials from someone we had found on jiji.ng – I’m not sure how we found the shop and I can’t remember where it was but I know it was in a market somewhere in Abuja.
Anyway, with M’s craftsmanship and my cheerleading skills, we created a cake box with a window using cardboard and laminate paper. We never made another box again because it took ages to make the first one. It was a fun project but it’s not time or cost effective. In hindsight, if you’re making tall cakes and you don’t have a box, you can use the base of a normal box, get rid of the top and cover the cake using cellophane and a ribbon . Something like this :
The next evening at the graduation dinner at Nkoyo, we had my Chocolate and Vanilla Cake, covered in Whipped Cream and topped with nuts. Looking back, the frosting looks like garri – it could probably just be the camera quality but the cake tasted decent. (yay!)
A few weeks later, my sister called me to bake a cake for her friend from work – it was a
bit very scary and out of my comfort zone. It was scary because like a lot of people, I’m afraid of failure plus I was not good at digesting constructive criticism – it used to terrify me. I mean, baking for someone and putting everything into it and them not liking it can feel like a personal attack 😂 but i I baked the Cake – I was trying to start a cake business anyway right? I didn’t feel ‘ready’ but I figured I had to start at some point.
After I had baked for my sister’s friend, I baked a few more times for a few more people and started getting more comfortable with baking for other people. Everyone’s favourite back then was the Tres Leches Cake (Three Milk Cake) – It’s also M’s favourite. Cries in lactose intolerance
A couple of months in, I stopped baking. I had a bun in the oven and had an aversion to the smell of egg whites and you can’t bake Tres Leches without egg whites. I spent the rest of the year creating websites, searching for jobs and watching cooking shows like Masterchef Australia My Kitchen Rules, Hell’s Kitchen and The Great British Bake Off.
I did not bake again until 2019 when my daughter turned one. I wanted to be the person that would bake her first birthday cake. I did not want to lose out on the experience. I felt it would be more special if i did it myself and it truly felt like it was. Her dad and i baked a 6 layer 6″ Vanilla and Chocolate Cake for
ourselves her . We didn’t have a party, we just wanted cake for photos to mark the milestone, besides a cake is a party on its own right ?
After the 1st year of being a mom, things started being normal again. I started settling into myself and i wanted to do something new, fun even and that’s when M said “why don’t you bake brownies?’ and it made sense. The smell of brownies in the oven makes my heart warm on the inside, they taste like home. I believe that brownies are versatile. You can have lots of different add-ins. You can give them to anyone, even when you want to look like ‘you’re not trying too hard’. You could have them as party favours or to say ‘I’m sorry’ or ‘everything is going to be okay’. You can have them with milk or tea or coffee or even ice cream. You can eat them hot or eat them cold. They’re hearty & happy.
Brownies are Fudgy Yummy goeey squares of deliciousness and everyone loves chocolate – well except Amina who’s kind of allergic to chocolate. I think that’s why she’s #TeamBlondies. We got to work, developing our Brownie recipe, giving my friends and family to review them, heading back to the drawing board , till we created what we believed was the Perfect Brownie
Recipe ready it was time to start planning if this was going to be a real thing not just another idea that would be swept under the rug. We worked on the colours, branding, name, packaging, pricing, delivery etc. And that’s how the dream became a plan and eventually it manifested itself into a 2″ (inch) chocolate square.
We* – My family, friends that were close and those that were far… The whole village. I can’t thank them enough for never getting tired of listening and giving suggestions and if they ever got tired, they never showed it.
To everyone who’s ever bought a brownie, shared a post, gave suggestions, given feedback, recommended these brownies to anyone, thank you thank you thank you. This journey would not be the same without you 🤎
While I was writing this, I discovered a picture of the first brownie i ever baked in 2016 and noticed the most peculiar thing. I baked my first ever brownie on the 27th of April 2016 and started Brownies By Aiko exactly 3 years later on the 27th of April 2019.
How did we come up with the name Brownies By Aiko? You can read that soon in the next blog – Baking Up A Name. Subscribe and turn on your Instagram post notifications.
Thanks for reading!