Tiers of joy: Easthampton baker opens new cake shop

By EMILY THURLOW

Staff Writer

Published: 01-19-2022 2:15 PM

EASTHAMPTON — What helps make a special occasion worth celebrating?

Some may say it’s the decorations. Others may say it’s the theme. For Brandee Simone, it’s the cake that takes the cake.

The Easthampton woman officially opened her business, Many Layers Cake Shop, in December after graduating from an eight-week Business Blueprint Easthampton program last year. Simone said the program, which gives advice and support for budding entrepreneurs, gave her the push she needed to turn her dream of owning her own business into a reality.

“This is literally my dream come true,” she said during a recent interview with the Gazette. “I just love this so much. I’m so happy.”

Simone, who has been baking most of her life, never considered a career in the sweet industry until after she started watching the British baking competition television show, “The Great British Bake Off.” As she watched, she would wish that she could create some of the creative concoctions that contestants had. In 2020, she decided to do a bake-along with the show and compete in challenges from the comfort of her home, and created one to two desserts per week.

“There came a point where I realized that I could actually pursue this on a bigger level,” she said.

In August, she was laid off from her job working in fundraising and alumni relations. Although she’d been in the field for almost 15 years, she said the work didn’t fulfill her in the same way baking did and decided it was “now or never.”

Many Layers Cake Shop is a made-to-order business that is operated essentially online through her website. Simone, who is ServSafe certified in food safety management and allergen awareness, and fully licensed, rents a commercial kitchen out of the Northampton Country Club, located at 135 Main St. in Leeds. Initially, she was looking to establish a brick-and-mortar bakery with a storefront of her own, but ultimately felt like she wasn’t ready for the big leap. She said that renting commercial space turned out to be right move.

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Since opening, she’s already filled all kinds of orders for her one-of-a-kind cakes, including a wedding cake. Many Layers offers six classic cake flavors, which includes chocolate, confetti, lemon, carrot and coconut. Prices range from $50 for a small-sized cake to $180 for a large, two-tier cake. The majority of Simone’s cakes are 6-inch in diameter, so when she references small-, medium- and large-sized cakes, she means the height of the cake. Her website, manylayerscakeshop.com, provides instructions on how to customize an order as well as a how-it-works size guide.

The cake shop also has 12 signature flavors, including chocolate cherry, lemon blueberry, raspberry white chocolate, mint chocolate chip, pb&j, mocha, cookies and cream, chocolate strawberry, biscoff, s’more please, coconut chocolate caramel and chocolate chip cookie. Prices for these signature cakes range from $60 for a small-sized cake to $200 for a large, two-tier cake.

Simone also has four premium cake flavors that include an alcoholic element: blackberry brandy, chocolate amaretto, rosie rosé and raspberry. Prices range from $70 for a small-sized cake to $250 for a large, two-tier cake.

“Each cake that I make is unique — even the ‘classic’ cakes! I’m always experimenting with new designs, and I approach each cake as a blank canvas,” she said. “My decorating process is very intuitive, and I like to let the materials guide me.”

Though she offers a host of options on her menu, Simone says she also enjoys creating custom designs that tell a story, such as a cake for someone interested in vintage airplanes. Cakes can also be made gluten-, vegan- and dairy-free.

More recently, she created a chocolate covered strawberry cake, which she said took on a life of its own as she started decorating it. The standard version of that signature item features a chocolate cake, topped with strawberry buttercream and chocolate ganache.

“My cakes are a way to make any occasion really special,” she said.

Much like the business’ namesake, Simone’s menu has many layers. In addition to cakes, Many Layers offers macarons, cupcakes and cheesecakes. Another unique creation is Simone’s New York-style chunky, stuffed cookies, which are for sale at $2.50 each with a minimum of six per order. The biscoff, for example, is stuffed with crushed speculoos cookies (a Belgian-style biscuit), milk chocolate and white chocolate chunks and a Biscoff Cookie Butter center.

“The name Many Layers has many meanings: the layered components of a cake, layers of flavor and texture; and, for custom orders, the special meanings behind the cake designs,” she said. “And for me, it also reflects the many layers of my life that lead me to this point of pursuing a career as a cake artist and business owner.”

Currently, Simone does not offer delivery or shipping. When an order is placed, she will contact a customer to arrange a pick-up time at the country club’s kitchen as she does not take any walk-ins or unscheduled appointments. She also recommends people place their orders at least two weeks in advance to ensure availability, as her schedule fills up quickly.

Emily Thurlow can be reached at ethurlow@gazettenet.com]]>