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The daily grind of commuting on the Long Island Railroad to her Fintech job in Manhattan left Amanda Morales lacking a creative outlet.
During her long commute, she often found herself scrolling through Instagram’s explore page, mesmerized by cake-decorating videos and wondering how she could replicate those impressive creations.
Baking has always been a source of joy for the 28-year-old Bethpage native, from the days of break-and-bake store-bought cookie dough.
“Most people love Netflix and the couch—but for me, sugar, butter and flour are my therapy,” Morales said. Through trial and error, she was able to hone her talents using online resources. “Things like YouTube and Instagram allow the amateur to go to the next level,” she said.
Now, her passion for baking has become her small business, launched in August 2018 with a Kitchenaid, Instagram page and a dream.
She runs the web-based Bake It Away, Mandy out of her Nassau County home, whipping up a colorful assortment of customizable cakes, cupcakes and cookies.
While some items, like her take on the “funfetti” cake we all know and love or Oreo-stuffed chocolate chip cookies, follow Instagram food trends, Morales says she enjoys putting her own spin on coveted classics.
Her best seller is the rainbow cookie crumb cake ($50+), a ubiquitous tribute to her — and so many other Long Islanders’ — childhood.
Every birthday, Morales says she’d beg her parents for a rainbow cookie cake, but nothing tasted quite like the cookie she loved.
“We’d stick candles into pounds of rainbow cookies for so many birthdays,” she said, laughing.
It eventually inspired her to take time to think about the qualities that make a good rainbow cookie and develop a recipe she felt confident in. “It has the same moisture, density and pizzaz of a rainbow cookie that I brought to life on a larger scale,” she said.
It’s developed somewhat of a cult following on her Instagram page, @bakeitaway_mandy. “People go crazy because it reminds them of their childhood, Saturday mornings going to the bakery with their parents and getting them in the little box,” she said. “It’s a Long Island staple.”
Social media has been key in growing her business. “Ten years ago, if you asked someone if they’d order a cake via an Instagram DM, they’d be like, ‘you’re insane!’ But we’ve always had word of mouth — it happened in these small circles.”
It’s how people from all over the country have discovered her work, frequently asking if she has a location, or if she can ship to the Midwest.
Though it’s a dream of hers to grow the business and one day have a brick-and-mortar storefront, Morales says she’s enjoying running the business from her home kitchen and cultivating personal relationships with her clients while still working full time in Manhattan.
“I’m extremely grateful because people allow me to be a part of their special days,” she said.
All ordering is done through her Instagram page or website, bakeitawaymandy.com. Custom cake orders must be placed three weeks in advance, while things like cookies require less notice, Morales said.
Orders can be picked up in Bethpage or delivered anywhere on Long Island or New York City for an additional fee.