Perhaps you’ve seen these cookies on Instagram or Pinterest: incredibly detailed, hyper-precise, ornately-decorated cookies that look almost too pretty to eat? Like miniature works of arts, calling them “cookies” almost seems to do them a disservice. Going down a pastry rabbit hole on Instagram (what, you never do this?), we recently came across the profile of Sugarluxe by Babycakes, a baker based in Drexel Hill, PA, making this kind of over-the-top cookie creations.
Formerly called Babycakes Couture Sweets, Sugarluxe is owned by Khadijah Ford, an accomplished pastry chef whose cookie-decorating skills blow our minds. Currently, Ford sells her wares through her website, including boxes of some of her most popular designs, as well as wildly imaginative custom cookies. How does someone get into such a niche baking craft, we wondered? We got to chat with ford about her background and passions, and are pleased to introduce you to this accomplished Pennsylvania baker:
PA Eats: Can you tell us a little about yourself and the history of Sugarluxe? When did you learn how to bake?
Khadijah Ford: For as long as I can remember, food has been an integral part of my life. Most of my childhood memories tie into food in some way. I hung out with my Grandmother a lot while my parents worked, and she was known throughout the neighborhood for her cooking. Sitting in her kitchen, I got to see first-hand what the love of cooking and baking looked like. I watched her like a hawk, and I learned a lot.
However, I like to think that some of what I possess can’t be learned; it’s a sort of magic within me, just as it was with in her. I am, and have always been, an artist and am obsessed with fashion.
I went to the Art Institute of Philadelphia for Fashion Design and most of my classes were in the same building as the culinary institute. I often found my self looking in the window to see what those students were working on; there was always a pull. I was obsessed with baking shows and the Pillsbury Bake-Off. I entered once and wasn’t selected, but after that, I couldn’t stop creating recipes. I made a Spiderman cake for my son’s birthday and I would bake for my co-workers. People started to offer me money for my treats, and that was 11 years ago.
What led you to the super-detailed decorated cookies that you’re now known for?
When I first started, I had no intention of doing sugar cookies. I was originally known for my cupcakes in unique flavors and super-cute designs, I made bouquets out of them and everything. Once I started decorating sugar cookies, the joy I felt couldn’t compare to anything else.
I love tiny beautiful things, and working on cookies only allowed me to focus and hone in on the tiny details and make a lane for myself as a cookie artist. I still love baking in general, but cookies have stolen my heart.
What is it about the format that lets you express your creativity? How is it different from other kinds of baked goods?
Royal icing is such a versatile medium to work with, and I can treat it just as a canvas or a sketch book. I often use techniques and tips that I learned in art school, so for me, it easily translates from idea or vision to reality in a cookie. With cakes and cupcakes it was more difficult for me to let go and be free with my creativity in the decoration. I always felt more reserved. With my cookies, I just go for it.
It looks like you do a lot of custom work. What’s one of the more unusual requests you’ve gotten? Any orders that stand out as favorites?
Yes, my main mission is to create custom personal designs for my customers. No two orders are exactly the same. The designs come from my heart each and every time. One of the most unusual requests was for a 50 Shades of Grey-themed birthday party. I made handcuffs, lingerie and masquerade masks. Some cookies had quotes from the movie on them. It was very interesting. I love when I get orders that come with a story. One favorite of mine was a rainbow-themed set for a baby shower. It was for a couple that had lost a baby previously and now were able to welcome their rainbow baby. I feel so much gratitude when people choose to have Sugarluxe as a part of their life celebrations.
Any plans for the future? A storefront, perhaps?
I would love to have a retail space with a classroom-style kitchen for teaching classes and hosting events on site.
Thanks so much to Ford for taking the time to share her story with us. For more info or to place an order, check out the Sugarluxe website and don’t forget to follow along on Instagram to keep up with all of her gorgeous cookie creations!
- Photos: Sugarluxe by Babycakes