Pass The Cake Please!

by Terry Watson | July 11th, 2013
Crystal A. Pass

Crystal A. Pass (Photo by Perfect Lenz Photography)

The original business name was C. A. P.’s Cakes, (an acronym for her and her father’s initials) Crystal Anne Pass, and Charles Albert Pass. When she set up an e-mail account with the username ‘Pass The Cake Please’ her clients began to mistake it for her business name. The only child of the late Mary S. Pass and the late Charles A. Pass, her parents were sure they would have a son to carry on the family name. When she arrived as a girl they had to come up with something quickly. People called him Big CAP and called her Lil’ CAP. “About three years ago, I decided to change the business name from C.A.P.’s Cakes to Simply Sweet, but it just didn’t seem to stick,” she says. She eventually conducted a poll amongst her fans on Facebook to decide on the name of her business. Pass The Cake Please! was the unanimous victor.

A native of Greensboro, N.C., Pass believes in life-long learning. She is a graduate of North Carolina A&T State University and holds a B.S. and a M.S. in Food Science and Nutrition. She also has a A. A. S in Baking & Pastry Arts. and is a self-proclaimed “foodie” and declares to be an overcomer in many of the challenges that life has presented. Her official business began in 2006 but she has been baking cakes since she was eight years old, and unsupervised. “I often say that my “love affair” with baking started when I got an Easy Bake Oven for Christmas one year as a young child. My parents had given me the oven, but did not buy the light bulb needed to operate the oven,” she says. Since she couldn’t use the Easy Bake Oven, she had to use the oven in their home.

One summer she decided to make a pound cake from scratch. Her mother was teaching summer school and Pass was at home with her father. “I loved being in the kitchen whenever my mom would be baking and I was always standing at her heels to see what she was doing,” she says. Her mom had been talking about making a pound cake for days, but had not gotten around to doing it. Pass took the initiative to at least try it. “I grabbed a cookbook off of the bookshelf and started baking. By the time my mom got home, the cake was finished baking and it had come out beautifully,” she explains. “Thus, my baking career started.” Soon she would even bake cakes for her grandmother to take to church events.

When she completed her freshmen year at N.C. A&T in May of 1999, her mother told her to keep her mind busy over the summer. She registered for a Spanish class at school and a cake decorating class at Guilford Technical Community College. For the cake decorating class, she needed to purchase additional supplies. She was planning to pay for her own supplies but her mom paid for them as a sign of support of her passion for baking. A few months after the class, she decorated both a “Winnie the Pooh and Mickey Mouse’ cake for a cake walk at her church. “My church members were surprised that I had decorated the cakes. I would do cakes for family and friends, here and there, but never serious,” she says.

After college, Pass went to work for a large food manufacturing company. She continued to bake cakes on the side when people requested them. She was even making cakes for co-workers and for different events, but confesses that she wasn’t happy on her job. “To be honest, I was absolutely miserable. I realized this about six months into it and had to find a way out. So I started praying, thinking, and searching,” she says. She started looking at culinary schools. In the fall of 2003, she heard that Johnson & Wales University was about to open a school in Charlotte. She attended an information session and was accepted into the university on the spot. She started school in September and a year later, her mother was diagnosed with Stage 4―Pancreatic Cancer. She tried to stay in school, but decided to go home to be with her mother. Unfortunately, her mother passed away in December of 2005. “She had told me during her illness that she wanted me to finish school. Obediently, I enrolled back in school in March of 2006. I completed the program in November of 2006 with an Associate’s of Applied Sciences in Baking and Pastry Arts. My business began that summer from the encouragement of family and friends,” she says.

Pass The Cake Please! offers various sweet delights. There are cupcakes in all types of flavors including Vanilla, Chocolate, Red Velvet, Strawberry, Sweet Potato, Carrot, Lemon, Key Lime, German Chocolate, Banana Pudding, and Butterscotch. Her most popular flavors are Red Velvet and Banana Pudding. The Butterscotch Cupcake was developed by accident and is a signature flavor of her business. It has a Butterscotch flavored cake with a Cheesecake center and topped with a Butterscotch-Maple Cream Cheese icing. She also offers Dessert Layer Cakes, Pound Cakes-(Vanilla, Lemon, Five-Flavor, Red Velvet, Key Lime and Chocolate, decorated cakes with minimal decoration, Cake Push Pops, and Cream-Cheese Brownies. Pass says she hopes to expand and offer more brownie varieties and cookies in the near future.

Every day Pass says she is inspired to live and do her best to please God. “I desire to live in His will. I strive to provide my customers with the utmost respect and highest quality products,” proclaims Pass. She constantly acknowledges her parents having impacting her life the most. “It’s very important to create and carry out a meaningful legacy of both of them. My parents were very loving and caring people and I witnessed impeccable strength, perseverance, and amazing faith in God through them both,” she says. In business, she credits Shandi Starks (First Lady of World Victory International Christian Center) for being a great inspiration and motivator to her. “She has encouraged me from the beginning. She has been a great supporter by promoting my business and ordering cakes,” says Pass. In the meantime she will continue to do what she enjoys the most and that’s meeting the customers who have tasted her cupcakes or cakes at someone’s house or gathering and decided to place a order for themselves. She says she loves getting business this way.

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