The smell wafting into her neighbor’s window helped Ashley Loehr take her butter cake business to the next level. Her neighbor is the Coronado Flower Lady, Shanel Albert, who wondered what the amazing smell was coming from Ashley’s kitchen. It turned out to be scrumptious butter cakes baking in the oven. Once Ashley shared a bite, Shanel was hooked and invited Ashley to sell her cakes as part of her Valentine’s Day sales. They will be teaming up again soon for Mother’s Day.
Ashley’s earliest memory of baking was helping her mother make her dad’s favorite chocolate chip cookies at age three. Through the years, she graduated to baking on her own and inventing her own recipes like banana snickerdoodle cookies. “I was always taking a Ziploc bag full of cookies to school and they never lasted long,” she laughs. She added butter cakes to her baking repertoire when she was just 12 years old. “They are not as easy to bake as you might think. I had to learn by trial and error, tweaking my grandmother’s recipe, to create the very best version,” she recalls.
She didn’t choose baking as a profession, but her creativity led her to interior design, and she ran her own successful firm in San Diego and was always available for clients. She left to dedicate more time to raising her two children because “you can never get these precious years back.” Ashley is a creative soul and loves to do arts and crafts with her children.
She loved growing up in San Diego, but Coronado was always a special place to her. She and her husband Jack decided to make Coronado their home about a year ago, as their daughter Ayla was getting ready to start kindergarten.
Ashley got re-started baking butter cakes for Jack’s business clients. Soon they were asking where they could get more, so she started baking out of her home kitchen to fulfill those orders. Then came the fateful day that Shanel smelled her cakes and she soon had to find a commercial kitchen to use part-time as her business continued to grow as word spread on social media and through recommendation from her loyal customers. Ashley is often so busy now that her family is delighted when a cake that comes out less than perfect, so they can eat it.
She now enjoys baking with her daughter, who recently hosted a fundraising lemonade stand with Chanel’s daughter Chloe. They quickly sold out of the 100 cups of lemonade and butter cakes donated by mom and raised $250 to take a special trip.
Clients come in all ages, and orders range from one cake for an individual, several for a get together, or dozens for gifts. A variety of sizes are offered: a four-inch cake that serves two; a seven-inch for six people; a nine-inch which feeds eight, and a 12-inch for 12 individuals, if they aren’t too hungry. The cakes last up to five days, with no refrigeration, if you can resist that long; and they can be frozen for up to two months. I have to admit that I am usually not a big cake fan, but it only took one melt-in-my-mouth bite for me to know that Ashley’s butter cakes were next level in taste and texture and I am now a convert.
Ashley says that her next steps include experimenting with seasonal flavors, like pumpkin spice for autumn and peppermint for Christmas. She also plans to look into secure packaging for shipping her cakes throughout the U.S. as orders come in.