What can you say about a bakery whose Web address is bestcakepopever.com? Hyperbole? After two bites of an Oreo cake pop, I don’t think so.
Meet Yael Krigman, attorney, Fulbright Scholar and baker who opened Baked by Yael in January. Located on Connecticut Avenue in the District, her pink and white storefront is located directly across the street from the entrance to the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Woodley Park.
For the uninitiated, imagine a baked cake all crumbled, and then mixed with icing and then dipped into candy coating before being placed on a lollipop stick. The result is a cake pop, an extremely rich and moist two-bite treat that is less fattening than a cupcake, given its smaller size.
“I started out making Jewish home-baked goods,” said Krigman. Co-workers at her former law firm begged her for samples and told her she had a great future if she ever left the legal profession. Krigman made her career switch slowly, starting with a catering business and graduating to owning her own store.
Krigman creates various colors so that the design on her cake pop or the ribbon used on the lollipop stick – or both – match with the bride and groom’s wedding colors. Her cake pops also work as favors and come with customized tags. The individualized treats make attractive centerpieces, she said.
Although she uses only kosher ingredients and is about to have her kitchen kashered, Baked by Yael is not certified kosher.
Don’t think she wasted her time in law school and her eight years practicing law. Krigman estimated that she saved “tens of thousands of dollars” by doing her own legal work when setting up her business, complying with health regulations and obtaining the necessary licenses. Also, she knew enough to trademark the word “cakepoppery.”
Owning a business is harder than being a lawyer “in the sense that everything falls on me. If I don’t bring in the business, I don’t get paid. But in another sense, I know the answers. I don’t have to look up the cases,” said Krigman, whose father is Israeli and whose mother hails from Philadelphia.
Her time as a Fulbright Scholar in Spain was helpful too, especially when it comes to speaking Spanish with customers, she said.
Currently, she is in the store whenever it is open and has a small staff, including a full-time baker. Her goal is to eventually hire more workers and focus her own time on “strategic planning” and bringing in business.
There isn’t a great deal of variety at her store, mostly cake pops, cookies, fruit bars and rugelach, a pastry made in the form of a crescent by rolling a triangle of dough around various fillings. On the weekends, Krigman boils and hand rolls her bagels, which she sells in the varieties of plain, poppy, sesame seed and everything. She is flattered when a customer opts not to use cream cheese but just eats it plain, she said.
“Everything is baked here, and we don’t use any mixes” or preservatives, she said.
Although open just one month, Baked by Yael already has its regulars. During a recent visit, one customer teased Krigman that back home in North Carolina, “They’ll be calling you y’all.”
Chris Carter, a National Zoological Park police officer, stopped by for his daily treat. The first time he visited, he ordered a raspberry bar, having never heard of rugelach. After he was told what a rugelach is, he has been purchasing either a cinnamon or chocolate one, often both, ever since. “I just met them two-and-a-half weeks ago and they feel like family,” he said of the staff.
According to Krigman, the best dessert she sells is her black-and-white cookie. “I love eating them so much,” she said. “It’s so hard to find a good black-and-white cookie.”