Ben and Olga Lee are an unquestionably dynamic duo. They are the husband-wife team behind Polka Dots Cupcake Factory in Austin, Texas, and their bakeshop has been serving up delicious, freshly-made cakes, cookies, and, of course, cupcakes since 2008. Both Ben and Olga started their careers in technical fields, but eventually found their way into the baking world and never looked back. Here, Olga tells us a little more about a typical day at Polka Dots and which one of their cupcakes seems to be a local favorite.
You two must be very busy with the growing success of Polka Dots Cupcake Factory. What does a typical day look like for the two of you?
A typical day for us is opening the shop for business at 12pm and closing at 8pm. During that time we will have several individuals, as well as families, come into the shop to get cupcakes. Others will also come in to inquire about information on ordering custom cakes or cupcakes for different events such as weddings, birthdays, or other special events and occasions. During the mornings before the shop opens, we will be in the back baking and preparing all the cupcakes for the day. Since we make them fresh every day, we usually arrive at the shop at 8am to bake, ice, and finalize all of the orders.
What is the mission statement of Polka Dots Cupcake Factory?
We strive to make edible creations that will create great memories for people during their important lifetime celebrations.
Olga, when did you first start baking, and does Ben bake, too?
I always watched my mom and grandma bake in the kitchen and always wanted to help and bake along with them. When I moved to America in 1998, I loved baking for friends, and things just progressed from there. I started baking professionally in 2004 at Zax Restaurant in Brentwood, CA (now closed) as an intern while I attended the California School of Culinary Arts in Pasadena, CA. Yes, Ben can bake, too, but he is more on the business side of Polka Dots – doing books, taxes, etc. – not that exciting, but someone has to do it.
The cupcake world has recently seen the emergence of some very unusual cupcake flavors like macaroni and cheese or maple bacon. Will Polka Dots be offering savory cupcakes at any point?
As long as it tastes good, we’ll make it. Currently, we offer monthly cupcakes to test new flavors, and if people respond positively, then we add it to our menu. This month we have “The Great Pumpkin.” It is a chocolate cake with chocolate graham cracker crust filled with pumpkin cheesecake and topped with brown sugar buttercream, toffee, and caramel ganache.
Which cupcake has been your best-seller?
Our most favored cupcake has been the Black Bottom Cake. This cupcake is a chocolate cake with a cream cheese filling with chocolate chips. It’s topped with a cream cheese buttercream, drizzled chocolate, and more chocolate chips.
Creating wedding cakes can be quite a different process than baking cupcakes or cookies. How are the processes different for you, and do you prefer one over the other?
For wedding cakes, I start with a wedding tasting consultation at our shop. We sit down and chat with the future brides and grooms to discuss the style of their event. We chat about their vision, budget, and number of guests. Then we sketch the cake design for them. It’s a little more tedious than our regular cupcakes or custom hand iced cookies, but we love creating wedding cakes because we get to be a part of their special day! I don’t have any preference either cookies/cakes/cupcakes. They are all fun projects to do.
Follow the links below to learn more about Olga and Ben Lee and their bakeshop, Polka Dots Cupcake Factory: