On any given morning, the widest eyes you’ll find in Towson belong to kids lucky enough to be at La Cakerie, “THE Celebration Bakery!” The second widest eyes? Those of their parents.
Follow their gazes and you’ll see why. Inside La Cakerie, the walls are pink, the air is coffee-scented and nearly every surface is covered in something sweet from gorgeous wedding cakes and tempting muffins to cupcakes topped with elaborate swirls of icing.
La Cakerie opened in 2012 on West Chesapeake Avenue, then moved to its new, larger Allegheny Avenue space—which once housed Ridgely & Ferrens Market—in 2014. The bakery, which also has locations in Mount Vernon and Bel Air, is the brainchild of Jason Hisley, a Bel Air native with strong baking roots and an impressive resume.
Hisley learned to bake as a child, taught by his grandmother. He grew up in a bake-from-scratch family—no box cakes to be found.
As an adult, he formalized that education, graduating from the highly regarded culinary program at Rhode Island’s Johnson & Wales University with a degree in baking and pastry arts and receiving a pastry certification from the Restaurant School in Vitznau, Switzerland.
After his schooling, Hisley returned to the Baltimore area, which, by then, was in the throes of the food and restaurant industry renaissance that is still going on. Hisley became a household name thanks to his 2011 appearance on the Food Network show Cupcake Wars, where his elaborate creation—a chocolate cupcake filled with chocolate, orange and clove-infused ganache and iced with Chinese-spiced tea buttercream—took home the top prize.
At the time, Hisley was the baker for Flavor Cupcakery, which has locations in Bel Air and Cockeysville. Not long after the episode aired, he branched out on his own.
In the years since his first TV appearance, Hisley has become a frequent guest on numerous Food Network shows including Sweet Genius, Cutthroat Kitchen, Halloween Baking Championship, and, most recently, Cake Wars, which he won in 2016. Hisley appeared on Cake Wars again this March. This time he did not take home the top prize though fans praised his Power Rangers-themed creation.
For the winning 2016 Cake Wars episode, he created a cake honoring the 45th anniversary of the original Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory movie about the eccentric candyman. The cake, which Hisley created with the help of an assistant, was 5 feet tall, fun, wild and topped with miniature Oompa Loompas.
“Baking consumes me. I love what I do,” Hisley says.
His nonstop, jampacked days are proof of this. Hisley says he spends most of his time in the bakery, juggling a variety of responsibilities alongside his team. Together they work with customers designing, baking and decorating cakes and cupcakes or weddings and other events, preparing food for the shops—which double as cafés serving savory dishes like soup and sandwiches—hosting tasting events and decorating classes and participating in charitable work, often incorporating La Cakerie’s shocking pink food truck.
Raising money for local causes is a motivator for Hisley.
“Anything with kids and pets, I’m crying,” he says. At home, he and his partner are raising a pair of English bulldogs.
Over the past few years, Hisley and his team have had the opportunity to create cakes that run the design gamut, from a Doctor Who-themed TARDIS cake to a frappucino-shaped birthday cake to a cake modeled after the cap on a bottle of Resurrection Ale from The Brewer’s Art.
The bakeries also sell seasonally inspired cupcakes. Springtime flavors include options like creamsicle, lemon burst and margarita.
Fans of the cakes and cupcakes agree that La Cakerie’s brilliance isn’t just in design. Their treats, which are made with real, whole ingredients, also taste terrific.
For Hisley, the opportunity to be front and center, sharing customers’ celebrations from first birthdays to weddings, makes his long days worthwhile.
After all, as he says, “You can’t go to work and make cakes and cupcakes and complain.”