Amirah Marey made a 2013 New Year’s resolution to start her own business. While it has taken many long nights and busy weekends, she and her boyfriend, Kiel Nichols, have made the resolution a reality.
AK Baked offers classic to gourmet to specialty cupcakes. Marey said they offer a variety of “Alaska-sized” cupcakes
“They call them the Texas-size but we changed it to the Alaska-sized cupcake,” she said.
So far the couple has delighted customers with a variety of flavors ranging from the standard lemon poppy seed, to more distinctive flavors including the Irish car bomb — made with Guinness beer — to the very popular maple bacon, with actual bacon in the cake and garnishing the top.
Marey said the maple bacon cupcake, by far, is the most popular.
“Just pulling a piece of bacon off the top and eating it, you’re like, I don’t even need to taste the cupcake,” she said. “It is just the new, big thing, you know, bacon and savory sweets.”
Another new item she is trying is a jalapeño popper cupcake.
“We are trying to incorporate some new, funky kind of flavors,” she said.
She admits not all flavors she has attempted have been successful.
“Strawberry was a hard one to get a good consistency with the moisture of the strawberry,” she said. “We have made that one so many times, were still kind of working on that one.”
Currently AK Baked is sold at both Soldotna Kaladi Brothers Coffee locations (Marey manages both stores) and through delivery of orders one dozen or more. Prices range from a dozen classics at $26, a dozen gourmets at $30 and a dozen specialties cost $32.
The cupcakes are baked in a local Department of Environmental Conservation approved kitchen.
Marey said they advertise mostly by word of mouth and from the AK Baked Facebook page, which at time of print had nearly 100 likes.
This summer they plan to attend many area events to see how popular their cupcakes may be.
“I feel like Alaska has the most festivals than any other state, because we have a limited amount of time to do these festivals, so we are going to try to get in on all of those,” she said. “For starters it is just to make a bunch of (cupcakes) and sell them out and see how it goes and see how much more, or less, we would need to have for the next festival.”
Nichols said he is looking forward to hearing residents’ comments.
“We plan on giving out a lot of samples and seeing what people think of them and to get feedback,” he said.
For the couple, the business of baking was not a far-fetched idea and has proven something they enjoy doing as a couple.
“I met this guy through baking,” she said. “He baked his way into my life.”
Nichols grew up on a fish site as the youngest son in his family and spent much of his time learning the tricks of the kitchen.
“I was in the kitchen until I was old enough to fish,” he said “My mom taught me pretty much everything I know.”
Marey said she has always enjoyed baking and learned a lot over the years from her aunt.
“She is the one who taught me all my baking knowledge,” she said.
One may wonder why the couple chose cupcakes as their break out item.
“Cupcakes are something everyone can enjoy,” she said. “It is something you can bring to a friend, and it will make them smile.”
“So far people have been enjoying it,” she said.
While cupcakes are their main product, the couple’s long-term goal is to have a larger bakery in the Soldotna area, with savory items as well as bakery goods.
“We are just starting off with cupcakes because it is the easiest thing to do,” she said.
“I just feel that the town is big enough where we can take a step to a new type of bakery,” she said.
After a decade of working at the local coffee brewing company, Marey said she looks forward to offering a comfortable bakery setting and seeing many repeat customers.
“With a small town like this, you’re always going to have regulars,” she said. “I absolutely love people.”
Sara J. Hardan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.