Spotlight: Donna Davis, Founder and Pastry Chef-Owner of KékiCake, Berkeley, CA

Donna Davis, Founder and Pastry Chef-Owner of KékiCake, Berkeley, CA

Donna Davis had been making cake kits as a hobby when her friends started saying to her, “You’ve been shipping these cakes before there was even a Blue Apron.”

With a career in business and marketing and her kids through college, Donna decided to do something for herself and in July of 2017 launched KékiCake, the only DIY scratch baking kit company in the U.S. that emphasizes natural ingredients and sophisticated results.

A step above other dessert kits, KékiCake (named after the Swahili word for cake to reflect Donna’s Nigerian background) takes into account the time and skill required to bake a truly moist, delicious cake and depending on where you live, the difficulty of finding oven-fresh artisan cakes at grocery stores and bakeries.

“There are cake kits, but not with French components,” says Donna. “My customers have a typically adult palate so I’m not marketing to kids but I have been asked by some moms to include add-on decorations.”

Donna uses The Perfect Purée Mango Puree and Meyer Lemon Concentrate in her Lemon Zest Cake with Meyer Lemon-Mango Fruit Curd, as well as The Perfect Purée Passion Fruit and Key Lime Concentrate in the prepared Lime-Passion Fruit Curd for her Toasted Coconut Cake.

Kits contain pre-measured ingredients in attractive packaging with easy-to-follow illustrated directions and top-quality pastry components including artisan local-milled flour, imported French and Latin American chocolate, Italian espresso, Organic Valley milk and pastry chef-prepared fillings, buttercreams and garnishes. The only ingredient Donna doesn’t ship is eggs. In developing her business, Donna relied on products she’d come to trust over the years.

“Even before I went to college I used The Perfect Purée,” she says. “I love the products and plan to use a lot more of them.”

Donna sells six gourmet 8-inch layer cakes with delicious-sounding names like Madagascar Vanilla Hazelnut Praline. She’s developing a six-inch “everyday” cake for three to six people and is also working on kits with made-to-order layers. Donna ships kits via FedEx from The Berkeley Kitchens and is establishing delivery through Amazon Fresh, a process she called “rigorous” but ultimately worthwhile.

Donna says giving people the opportunity to bake show-stopping cakes at home is very gratifying, even more so because she’s able to tie in a cause she shares with her husband — homelessness prevention.

KékiCake donates 10 percent of net profits to San Francisco Bay Area non-profit and municipal organizations such as the San Francisco Homeless Project, which supports programs and services that provide economic assistance, affordable housing, transition services, child care, and job training programs to homeless parents with children.