Nikki Kelly created her treats in lockdown and they have been a growing success
Say it with flowers — and all the better if they’re edible. A recent rise in the popularity of edible bouquets has meant success for Nikki Kelly of Belfast Cake Boutique, who works from home making floral creations that you can appreciate with both your eyes and taste buds.
The south Belfast woman sold out of her popular bouquets over Easter, delivering 110 bouquets in one day, and for Mother’s Day earlier this year, she sold 400 of her floral cupcakes.
“Cupcake swirls, such as big roses and chrysanthemums, take about four or five minutes per cupcake, and that doesn’t include actually baking and dirty icing (or crumb coating) them. Then wrapping them can be pretty intense too, because they’re so delicate,” the mum-of-two explained.
“I had to bring my mummy in to help wrap and deliver [for Mother’s Day] because I was so busy.”
Nikki has been baking since childhood, a pastime she enjoyed with her granny, but lockdown is when she really delved into the artistic side of it, as it gave her great stress relief and solved any quarantine boredom for her kids.
“I run a nursery, so when we were shut down [due to Covid] it was crazy for me, because I couldn’t sit still,” she said.
Nikki first posted photos of her flavoursome floral treats to her social media accounts, and soon lots of her friends and family were asking if they could buy some.
“Back then, you were allowed to do food deliveries, but you weren’t allowed to go into the shops, so I was getting asked to deliver the bouquets to people’s loved ones for birthdays etc. Then it just took off, and I’m a bit gobsmacked...”
Apart from food hygiene certification and three online courses, she has no professional qualifications or training in baking.
A couple of years ago, she made her brother a cake that looked like a Domino’s pizza, and has even made a McDonald’s takeaway-style gateau too.
She has put a lot of her success down to novelty baking “taking off on TV”, with the likes of Great British Bake Off and Netflix’s Is It Cake? proving to be especially popular for viewers of all ages.
With the Netflix show, culinary artists create hyper realistic cake replicas of actual objects — anything from bowling balls to rubber ducks — and contestants have to guess which item is real.
“The bulk of my work now would be the bouquets, they’re definitely my most popular product,” said Nikki.
“People want more for their money nowadays. Flowers die, and I think these treats are like the best of both worlds. You can’t send flowers into hospitals, and they can’t be shared… People see the dual purpose. They’re flowers, but you can eat them.
“People choose bouquets to their own size and colours. Three of my bouquets are £11, and you get more value for money when you think a bouquet of actual flowers could cost a tenner.”
Her tasty creations have also been ordered for wedding and special occasion centrepieces, and with the increased boom in business, Nikki is hoping to install a separate cake kitchen into her Newtownabbey house soon.
“It’s taken off beyond what I could have imagined. I was expecting to spend maybe an hour or two on it a week, but now I’m block booking weeks where I get time off.
“I’m easily turning out at least 10 bouquets a week, and spending at least four nights or 16 hours a week on it.”
The busy entrepreneur also shared how “buzzing” both her children are that her baking has taken off.
Nikki’s son Alfie (7) is her “chief taster”, while daughter Gracie (9) is also her “helper”.
“Even silly things like stapling the cups together to put the cupcakes into so they stand like a proper bouquet, she does that for me. Gracie wants to be a teacher when she grows up, but Alfie wants to come and work with his mummy,” Nikki laughed.
The current cost of living crisis and stark rise in food costs have affected consumers across Northern Ireland, and Nikki said she is no different, noting for example, that “butter’s up by 75p a block and when it’s on offer now, it costs what it used to cost”.
However, she said this hasn’t deterred customers from placing orders with her.
“My cakes are very much dependent on what the customer wants. It’s still a quality item and it’s made especially for them, and I use proper, good ingredients. People know quality.”
You can follow Belfast Cake Boutique on Facebook or on Instagram @belfastcakeboutique