Salt Rock resident and prior event planner, Lara Jean, has stirred the cake batter on the Ballito scene by not only her passion but alongside it, her divine selection of cakes.
Sitting to have a cup of coffee with Lara Jean isn’t just a pleasant smile accompanied by a friendly welcome, it is sitting to have a cup of coffee with a genuine person who has beaten every odd to be where she is today. After the birth of her darling girl last year January and being unemployed for some time, Lara decided to try her hand at turning her passion into income. Her empire started off by deciding to bake her daughter’s first birthday cake nearly a year later after realizing how the price of cakes has skyrocketed and since then has created quite the variety. Although she swears that her “Choc Brownies are without a doubt” her best recipe yet, she does admit that her chocolate cake is a close second and is just “decadent, rich, dark and not sickening sweet just extremely delicious”.
Lara creates her masterpieces with the aid of her lovely assistant her domestic worker Shingi and her expert cake taster Amelia her daughter who just so happens to also be “quality control” Lara laughs. Lara has perfected six different cake recipes which include the golden oldies chocolate, carrot and her angelic vanilla whilst also bring her lemon sponge, coffee and hazelnut and hummingbird cakes to the table. Even though she says, “I’ve got a toddler, I’m a wife and I have two demanding dogs” I am still in amazed at the fact that she needs just three days’ notice before starting your dream cake and has even started and completed a few in just one day as she admits “I’ve realized I enjoy the adrenalin the most”.
Lara inspired me by sharing that the person she looks up to in the industry is local baker Tony Seery the owner of T and Cake. ‘Girl power’ is the term that comes to mind when thinking of the relationship that these two have created. The bakers help each other out in this saturated industry and are far from rivals as there is enough of the North Coast to go around as Lara “looks up to her very much” she says. Two other women have played big roles in Lara’s journey her mother and her aunt. Lara and her sister both lost their parents at a very young age, “a childhood memory I have of being in the kitchen was with my mum when I was about four” she says, “we were making popcorn and she thought it would be fun to take the lid off the pot and popcorn just went flying everywhere, it was great”. Her mum’s sister, “giving up everything stepped in to raise my sister and I, we are the women we now are because of her” says Lara.
Lara embodies the spirit of a strong independent woman who has managed to balance out the scale between life and work even when life and work happen to live under the same roof. As every hard-working woman should, Lara does take some time off for herself when she isn’t baking up a storm, Lara can be found on the back of a horse as she enjoys riding. She also spends some time posting pictures of her gorgeous creations on her social media although she does admit “my Instagram account might not be perfect with the perfect white background or everything looking all picturesque but that’s not the nature of how life looks” and I couldn’t have agreed more.
Apart from designing the most detailed works of art, Lara believes that the real winner lies in the taste of her cakes as she goes on to confidently say “I pride myself on making pretty lovely looking cakes, but I personally believe they taste better than they look”. Lara stands firmly by the quality of her cakes and by the sound of it, so does Ballito as word of her masterpieces is spreading.
Our homemaker at heart encourages aspiring bakers to “just start and don’t overthink it” as she has come a long way since making mud pies in her garden as a child. Lara has reached her current point in life by simply learning to “trust the process regarding everything in life” and being an “uncomplicated and unfussed person who takes each day as it comes”, seeing her journey has truly inspired me, and I think we should all take a page out of her recipe book labeled ‘Life’.