By Vanesa Brashier, firstname.lastname@example.org
April Koen-Spurlock, owner of Sweet’s Cakes and Catering in Hardin, says her love of baking began as a child, helping her grandparents make desserts and baked goods for family gatherings.
“I remember baking biscuits with my dad’s mom [Juanita Koen] in Hardin and making sweets with my mom’s parents, Hilda and Edwin Cheramie, in Louisiana,” Koen-Spurlock said. “The first cake I ever decorated was for my brother, Jean-Paul, when I was 9. I’ve been decorating cakes every since. I think I’ve made all of his birthday cakes since then.”
She started baking professionally after friends began seeing the cakes she made for her daughter, Layla.
“People would call me afterward and say, ‘Hey, can you make a cake for me?’ That’s how it all started,” Koen-Spurlock said.
For a while, she says she worked a “real job” for four years as director of religious education for Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Liberty.
“I didn’t do any cakes while I was working there. Then after I left the church job, I was like, ‘Lord, what am I going to do?’ I went back to baking and worked out of my house for a while,” Koen-Spurlock said. “Then I got so busy with orders that I had to move into a separate building that was set up as a kitchen. I baked out of that for two years.”
She decided to get serious about furthering her knowledge in baking, and enrolled in a culinary arts program with an emphasis in pastries at San Jacinto Junior College.
“My best friend, Krystal [Burmaster], and I were working together at the time. She was encouraging me to expand because we had so much business. I didn’t want to make a move until I finished my degree,” Koen-Spurlock said. “So I went back to college and Krystal got a ‘real job’ as a realtor for a while.”
She graduated from the culinary arts program at San Jacinto Junior College in December, completed an internship at Cakes by Gina in Alief, and then began working on plans to open up a bakery in her hometown of Hardin, Texas.
Around the same time, a property located at 236 CR 2358 in Hardin and owned by her parents, Mike and Edwina Koen, became available. The Koens had planned to rent the house out to tenants, but it became problematic, so they opted to rent the space to their two daughters – with Sweet’s Cakes and Catering on one end and Joli Koen Sellers’ women’s clothing boutique on the other end.
The house-turned-bakery was previously the home of Krystal’s parents, Kyle and Brenda Burmaster, who now live in a retirement community in the Crosby area.
Future plans include turning another area of the home into a tearoom where customers can take a break from boutique shopping and enjoy refreshments from the sweet shop.
On Monday, April 8, Sweet’s Cakes and Catering was welcomed into the Liberty-Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce with two dozens guests in attendance. They were treated to homemade cream puffs stuffed with chocolate and vanilla cream, cake balls, gourmet cookies and an assortment of other desserts.
The two best friends – April and Krystal – are back in the kitchen together. They both say that when you work with your best friend and are doing something you love, it never feels like real work.
“We don’t really have bad days together,” said Krystal. “I just feel like I am hanging out with my best friend. That’s the way we’ve been since we were 10 years old.”
For Brenda Burmaster, seeing her former home used as a bakery and her daughter working there is a bit surreal.
“It’s very different but I am very happy for April. She is employing my family, too, so I am happy for that,” she said. “I think she has done a good job and I am praying her business goes well.”
In addition to pastries, Sweet’s Cakes and Catering specializes in wedding and special event cakes. Wedding cakes start at $3.75 a serving. Prices vary based on the difficulty of the decorations.
“We love getting creative with the cakes and don’t want to do what everyone else is doing. Our specialties are wedding cakes and cakes that don’t exactly look like cakes,” Koen-Spurlock said. “This week we are designing a cake to look like a Texas A&M ring and another one that is shaped like a goat. I am kind of excited about that goat cake.”
Catering that includes soups, sandwiches and hors d’oeuvres is available to small groups, such as office parties, wedding and baby showers and family gatherings. The bakery also rents dessert displays and linens to their catering customers.
Sweet’s Cakes and Catering is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to noon for pick-ups.
To place an order or to learn more about the bakery’s offerings, contact Koen-Spurlock at email@example.com or 936-298-1059.