Cynthia Jann remembers getting an Easy Bake Oven as a gift from her parents for her tenth birthday. Perhaps it was so that the little girl could mix and bake on her own or maybe it was so that Cynthia would stop pestering her parents — both avid bakers — to let her bake with them.
After all, Jann admits, “My mom, she was a little afraid of me baking when she wasn’t around, but I just kept on begging whenever she was there.”
Now others are begging Jann, who has advanced far beyond the confines of an Easy Bake Oven, to bake for them and she is happy to do so. As the owner and baker at CC’s Sweet Shoppe in Harrisburg, she produces a variety of sweet treats, breads and other items. She’s been doing it since 2013.
“I worked as a Certified Nursing Assistant for a number of years, but those concrete floors were hard on my legs after almost 30 years,” she recalls.
After serving as a baker at another shop, Jann decided to open her own bakery. She says her goal is to always give the customer exactly what they want. She offers cakes with traditional icing as well as fondant and also produces fudges, cupcakes, cookies, brownies, pies and more.
“I don’t say, ‘you get this flavor or you get that flavor.’ If someone wants a specific flavor, I make that specific flavor,” she says. “I like the creating of it. I always try to do a little extra.”
That means Jann occasionally must learn about new trends and even pop culture.
“I had somebody that wanted me to do a cake for their son’s birthday and I didn’t know what Fortnite was. I was supposed to do a sort of unicorn-llama. I told them I’d do it, so I had to learn about Fortnite,” she says.
Jann says marketing has been one of her biggest challenges. She says she has tried a variety of advertising, but word-of-mouth has been best for her business.
“I ask people all of the time how they heard about me, and most of them tell me they had a friend who told them about me,” she says.
She adds that she bakes every product from order, instead of pulling already-baked cakes from the freezer, ready to decorate.
“That’s the thing with a lot of bakeries now,” she says. “They get cakes cheaply from large companies and have them shipped in frozen. I’m not just flipping cakes and putting icing on them. If they order a cake today, I’ll have it fresh for them tomorrow.”
CC’s Sweet Shoppe is open just Thursday through Sunday.
“The other days I’m baking and making everything as fresh as it can be,” she says. “I am not looking any further out than just being here. I’m just one baker. I have a lot of people that come back time and again as repeat customers. I’m really happy with that.”