Summit Middle School student uses pandemic downtime to learn how to make and decorate cakes
FRISCO — Like many people, 11-year-old River Close decided to get into baking at the onset of novel coronavirus pandemic. But for her, the hobby has really taken off.
“Just at the start of quarantine, I was like, ‘I want to bake stuff. I have nothing else to do,’” she said. “And so I started baking some cakes.”
After she would bake and decorate the cakes, her stepdad would take them into work to share with his co-workers, who enjoyed them and encouraged River to make more. Not long after that, she offered to make a cake for a friend’s birthday, her mom shared a photo of the cake on Facebook, and several local friends started putting in requests for cake orders.
Since then, River has been taking advantage of the spare time afforded her amid a pandemic and online schooling at Summit Middle School to improve her craft, spread joy and possibly start up her own cake business one day.
Besides giving away several of her practice cakes, she’s made close to 20 commissioned cakes, including 10 for Thanksgiving. With her mom’s help, River recently opened two bank accounts.
“We went over to Alpine Bank and set up a checking and savings account, so I can teach her about how to do business financials, expenses …” said Andrea Beacham, River’s mom. “So she can see money coming in and out.”
Beacham runs a digital marketing business based on the Front Range and supports River’s work as “the assistant and investor.”
River is putting her earnings back into her operations, buying ingredients and saving up so that she might be able to open her own store and hire someone to do the dishes one day. Right now, her sales are based on word of mouth and the occasional person reaching out to Beacham on Facebook.
While River eventually might expand her sales efforts, she’s enjoying being able to “spread more treats and make people happy” in the meantime.
She said seeing the reaction from someone else after giving away one of her first cakes “was an exhilarating moment.”
The positive feedback, especially from people outside her immediate family, has given her additional drive and validation.
“When their face is lit up, I know that they’re not lying because they’re not just my parents,” she said.
Beacham shares her daughter’s joy in spreading a little frosted happiness. She will occasionally offer up one of her daughter’s cakes on the One Man’s Junk Summit County Facebook page.
“It’s fun to see people’s reactions, to make them happy,” she said.
Being able to give away the cakes also makes it easier for River to get more practice in without asking her family to risk an unbalanced diet.
“We try not to eat a bunch of sweets,” Beacham said. “That’s why you’ll see us give them away for free.”
River’s current passion and focus is on nailing her frosting techniques. The trickiest thing that she’s mastered recently is the borders that run across the top and bottom of a cake — something that River says looks simple but requires precision to maintain a consistent look all the way around the cake.
“That was really difficult, but now I’ve learned it, and it looks really cool,” she said.
The border technique is also heavily dependent on getting the frosting recipe just right. If the frosting is too runny, the border might droop, and if it’s too thick, the design can crack and break.
The next skills she hopes to learn are a basket-weave design and how to make frosting animals. River says she prefers working with frosting over fondant or other cake-decorating materials.
“It’s more delicious, and it’s just more fun to work with,” she said.
Cake orders are being handled by River Close’s mother, Andrea Beacham. She can be messaged on Facebook at Facebook.com/wakeupnlive.
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