Jennifer Dockter never dreamed that her side-hobby of baking would one day become a successful business.
Dockter began baking at a very young age, serving treats such as cakes and cupcakes to her friends and family. As she got older, people continued to ask her to bake cakes for them. "I would do it as a practice type thing," she said. "Now, it has evolved from just a hobby, something I liked to do as a stress reliever, to something bigger."
The Farmer's Wife Cakes got its name from Dockter's relationship with her husband, Brandon. "My husband is a farmer, and when I moved to his town, people didn't know who I was," she said. "They would ask me, 'Are you that one farmer's wife?' and it just went from there."
Jennifer Dockter smooths a layer of freshly-made ganache on a cake. Ganache is made of chocolate and cream.
Once Dockter and her family moved back to Rugby, cake orders started rolling in. The demand got to be so high, that Dockter had to start refusing orders because she didn't have an official business. "We started thinking, 'Why not have it as a business?'" she said.
From there, Dockter and her husband installed shelving and other equipment into a small bakery space that would pass North Dakota state health code. With a closed off section of the home and a back entrance into the bakery, the space passed all regulations. Dockter had officially obtained a license to operate a bakery.
While her new bakery kitchen is small, Dockter's cakes are not. From simple cupcakes to 3D cakes and more, Dockter is committed to seeing her clients' creations come to life. "I love it all. It's exciting to get every order because every order is so unique to every individual. Each one is always different," she said.
Dockter bakes all orders custom, fresh and made-to-order. So that orders are ready for pick-up, she starts baking orders for the next morning around 10 p.m., after her three young children have settled into bed. Depending on the workload, she finishes between 2-4 a.m. She then starts on her afternoon orders between 6-7 a.m.
Simple sheet cakes, depending on the amount of detail a client wants, can take about an hour or two to bake. However, sculpted and 3D cakes can take up to 24 working hours.
The longest a creation has ever taken was 38 hours a 3D sculpted Rolls Royce cake that Dockter entered into the North Dakota State Fair's Novelty Cakes Competition last weekend. The cake won both first place in the division, as well as Best of Show. Dockter also won first place in the fair's Tiered Cakes Division, first place in the Tasting Division for both chocolate cake and cupcakes, first place in the Cake Mix Division, and first place/Best of Show for her white almond cake.
Baking is something that Dockter is now passing down to her 5-year-old daughter, Savanna, who also entered baking competitions at the state fair and won first place for Cake Decorating, Cupcake Decorating and Unfrosted Brownies. Dockter said that her daughter has expressed interest in wanting to be an artist and a baker just like her mother when she gets older.
Dockter has gained recognition for her baking skills from all over the United States, receiving orders from everywhere. "It's interesting to see where the orders come from. I have people calling from all over the US," she said. "I should start putting pins on a map!"
In February, Dockter received a call from a talent scout for Food Network. The scout had seen Dockter's work and wanted her to apply for one of the network's baking champion competitions. She made it through the first interview and moved on to the questionnaire part of the process, but was not selected for the final round. However, the network did promise to keep her information on file and consider her for another show in the future. "It was very surreal," Dockter said. "It was a complete win and honor to even have been selected and called."
Dockter's favorite part of baking is how it makes others feel. "Besides making people's creations come to life, my favorite part about baking is also seeing people's reactions when they see their cake," she said. "I love when people send me photos of them at their events with the cakes. The reactions are priceless."
As for the future, Dockter would love to see her business grow, saying that now is just a stepping block for what is to come. "I never dreamed it would get this far, so why not dream bigger?" she said. "I would love to have a store-front or a bakery someday, but that's something to think about for when the kids get older. Who knows what the future will bring."
Residents of Rugby can look forward to an upcoming cupcake menu that will be available in the next month or two. 'Cookie Day' is also in the works, which will offer fresh made cookies, and possibly donuts, one day each month.
The Farmer's Wife Cakes is open Tuesday-Friday 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. It is closed on Sundays and Mondays. All orders must be made by appointment at (701) 776-7686 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Walk-ins are not accepted.