Who are we?


by Jackie Nunnery-

The sign outside LeCakes by Design proclaims “Everything Made with Love” and the sweet smell of Cynthia Johnson’s baking envelopes you like a hug when you walk into the bakery that opened in Callao’s business district three years ago.

It is truly a family business. Co-owners Cynthia and her husband Jerome Johnson do it all together, with Cynthia focused on confectionery creations and Jerome managing the business end.

“I couldn’t do it without him,” she said.

Even the name “LeCakes” has a familial tie, named after Cynthia’s mother Leatrice Taylor, who passed away in 2015 and whose portrait hangs in the shop, overseeing the steady flow of customers snapping up her popular cinnamon rolls.

What do you enjoy most about baking?

I guess it reminds me of my mother. As a kid, she allowed me to sit there beside her, stir things and see the finished product. I think she left this to me, like an inheritance or something.  The part I really love is the decorating, to be able to create and decorate.

Which is more important, how it looks or how it tastes?

Both! When you get a piece of cake, I want you to be fascinated by how it looks and how it tastes. I don’t think one goes well without the other.

How did you get started with decorating cakes?

My grandson had a a birthday four or five years ago and my daughter asked for a cake. She gave me a picture. It was decorated with fondant and I had never worked with fondant before. I was able to see it all in my head, how to take it apart and put it back together. It turned out phenomenal and I put it on Facebook. It has been non-stop ever since. From that one birthday cake, it just opened the doors for us. We started getting cake orders and then people from the community started asking for other baked goods.

What are your favorite things to make?

Cinnamon rolls. It’s my mom’s recipe; she used to make them when we were kids. I made them in memory of her on the first day we were open, which was Mother’s Day, and we can’t stop making them. I think sometimes I could open a cinnamon roll shop.

I also love wedding cakes. I just love the idea behind them and what they represent. But at the same time, when it’s a little kid, wanting a smash cake…It’s hard, I love it all!

What’s your most unusual request?

It was a crab basket birthday cake. The basket and crabs were all made out of fondant.

How do you feel about putting so much into your artwork, knowing it’s going to get eaten?

I’m used to it now. (Laughs) It’s all about the first impression. Once they see it the first time, I don’t care. After that, it’s just cake.

So how do you keep from sampling everything all the time?

I used to love sweets, but now I don’t hardly eat them. I eat them because I have to taste things. I used to love cinnamon rolls. Now… (laughs)

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