Bakery of the Month – The Cake Box Bakery

1st place- $1000 prize- Roxanne Johnson & DD Zelin, Cake Box, New Hope, MN

Congratulations are in order for Roxanne Johnson and her team mate DD Zelin for winning first place in the Ultimate Cake Contest October 27, 2013 at the Mall of America in Bloomington, MN. They decorated a wedding cake that fit the story of a mature couple who are nature lovers. Roxanne was surprised and accepted with her infectious smile that reflects the delight of accomplishment and service. This was the first time she entered this competition. She is owner of Cake Box Bakery in New Hope and a member of the Upper Midwest Bakery Association (UMBA).

Pete Nowicki – President of UMBA and JoAnn Borchert interview her recently to feature as a Bakery of the Month. The story of her 30 years journey in the world of baking is a wonderful story.

Roxanne started her training in 1984 as a baking student at the one year program at Anoka Vocational Technical School. This program challenged her. There was a cake decorating course during the baking program and she decided that is the area she wanted to pursue. She was already decorating cakes and supplied the foodservice with very much appreciated creations. Dalen Johnson her friend encouraged her to go for her passion of cake decorating. They married after she graduated from baking school.

Roxanne worked full time for 3 years at Woullet Bakery in Edina. Minnesota. She enjoyed working there and continued working on her skills setting up and icing cakes, making tortes and learning techniques she used as a decorator.

Roxanne Johnson, owner of Cake Box Bakery in New Hope, MN

Next Roxanne went to Herman’s Bakery in Cambridge, Minnesota, where she put into practice her experience and passion of decorating cakes. Lois Oestrich was her mentor challenged to become a better decorator. Roxanne was treated like a queen at Herman’s and in turn, wanted to be the best decorator she could be. She learned much there and appreciated everything they did to nurture her talent.

After three years she moved to McGlynn’s Bakery specifically at the Target store on Lake Street, then went to Rainbow Foods, then to the main McGlynns plant in Fridley. She honed her skills in drawing on cakes and learned the skill of production. Each place provided a leaning experience. She worked for them 6 years.

From there she went to Byerly’s in Roseville. She decorated there for a few months until she and her family got the opportunity of a lifetime…to own their own bakery!

Roxanne and Dalen found an ad in the Star and Tribune newspaper regarding a bakery for sale, and that led them to Winnebago Minnesota. They were so excited! In 2 ½ weeks, they sold their house, quit their jobs, moved to Winnebago, and bought a bakery! They named it, The Johnson House Bakery. This was quite an experience for Rozanne, Dalen, and their 4 kids, Dominic, Danielle, Dustin, and Dayna (who thought the bakery was hers because they bought it on her 5th birthday). Together they leaned how to run a bakery, and how to be business people. They had a full line bakery with bread, buns, cakes, donuts, and the best sub sandwiches around. Roxanne was very supported by her husband. She feels that she could have accomplished what they did together with out him. The community was very supportive of the bakery, and they loved living in Winnebago, but they missed their families, and the inevitable, sold the bakery in 2003.

Roxanne worked for a time at Grandma’s Bakery in White Bear Lake where she decorated for about 5 months. She learned that the Cake Box Bakery in New Hope was looking for a decorator and so she started working there part-time. Kris and Terry Veigel owners were looking to sell the bakery and move to Myrtle Beach, SC. Roxanne wasn’t quite sure she wanted to buy another bakery, knowing all the work it entails;, but the Cake Box Bakery had everything she loved, decorating cakes and working with the customers. In 2006 Roxanne bought the bakery. In the transition of selling and buying Roxanne learned more about business. She was able to hire Rick Masterman. A wonderful baker she worked with at Rainbow Foods and McGlynns. She was also able to keep on a couple wonderful employees that are still with her to this day, Elsie and Betty. She has had many wonderful cake decorators come and go. She has helped train about 15-20 interns coming from the Arts Institute and from Le Cordon Bleu. One of those decorators, Caitlin, is working for her today.

The 2007 recession was difficult and at times, she wasn’t sure they would make it. Fruit cakes and cookie platters were a big hit to get through the Christmas season. Roxanne started making shaped cakes for customers, and they are a huge part of her cakes that she makes on a daily basis today. The Cake Box makes cakes, cupcakes, sweet breads, and cookies made from scratch. The look makes the people want to come, and the taste makes them want to come back again and again.

Cake Box does many Wedding Shows. She invites them to her bakery to talk to them and discuss making the Wedding Cake of their dreams! Customers sometimes bring in pictures of what they want in a cake, and she is very helpful in creating a cake that they are proud to serve.

Roxanne just competed in the Bake Mag “Cake Show” on thebakingchannel.com. This was a challenge that Roxanne only had five days to prepare for. The competition included a wedding cake, shaped cake and cupcakes. Roxanne won the “People’s Choice Award for cupcakes.

Roxanne loves going to bakery conventions and strives to learn as much as possible while she is there

Roxanne looks to UMBA for promotion of the baking industry and education. She would like to see a forum for decorators as a part of the convention and more sessions on business.

Again congratulations Roxanne on a wonderful success story. Your thirst for continual learning is one we all need to embody.