- Every moment is worth a cake.
That is the motto of Ilona Rantapelkonen, 36, from Uusikaupunki.
Originally from Säkylä, Ilona has had one passion since childhood: baking sweet treats. It was her move to Uusikaupunki that finally enabled her to pursue her dream, kindled as a little girl, of becoming a baker.
Ilona says that Uusikaupunki is more than just a home for her. For someone who grew up beside a lake in Satakunta, the Selkämeri sea and her coastal hometown now represent her dearest place in the world—a place where she can live the life she wants.
Ilona became a resident of Uusikaupunki eleven years ago.
‘I came to Uusikaupunki because I found a wonderful man here,’ she admits.
Now, her life includes her partner and their eight-year-old daughter.
The best part of the city, according to her, are the friendly people. When Ilona, trained as a catering chef, moved to Uusikaupunki, her dream of becoming a baker had receded into the background. However, she received copious praise from friends and acquaintances whenever she served her baked goods. ‘Others would definitely eat these,’ she was told, and was suggested to open her own bakery.
Taking this advice to heart, Ilona boldly started her business, even though she had never planned on it.
Ilona’s Celebration Treats, her business, was founded in 2013. At 26, the new entrepreneur began baking cakes and other sweet treats for sale from her home kitchen. This was familiar territory for her, as she had worked in a catering service since her youth, handling orders for confirmations, weddings, and other celebrations.
This year marks the tenth anniversary of her business. There was no celebration, as Ilona’s Celebration Treats is currently on pause while she works as a teacher in the restaurant and catering industry at the Novida vocational college. She is also advancing her professional skills by studying for a degree in restaurant management at Tampere University of Applied Sciences.
-I have baked a few cakes on order recently,’ she says, admitting that she still finds it hard to say no.
If baker Ilona were to devise a recipe for a good life, it might be this: The best part of life is learning something new. This sentence is also immortalized on her Facebook page. Sometimes, realizing this has required her to break her own prejudices and step out of her comfort zone.
-For a long time, I thought I couldn’t bake without sugar,’ she says, admitting she was wrong.
As a baker and entrepreneur, she wants to serve all kinds of customers and try new recipes and ingredients constantly emerging in the industry. Instead of traditional buns and pastries, many now request raw cakes and gluten-free baked goods.
Ilona’s passion for baking was ignited by the blueberry pies she baked with her sister on Saturdays in their childhood home in Säkylä. Becoming an entrepreneur required more than just enthusiasm and a ‘flour thumb’ – practice is still part of the job description. There have been successes, but also failures.
Ilona laughs, saying her family is always happy when something goes a little awry. Then, they get to eat the practice pieces.
Now, Ilona excitedly shares how she used artificial intelligence Bing to plan a cake recipe for the Ukilife photoshoot. The result was a Kentuckian, frosted, melt-in-your-mouth spice cake.
‘It would be perfect for the Christmas table,’ she says.
According to Ilona, recipe creation can’t rely solely on AI, but it helps in brainstorming. The Kentuckian cake recipe is also her own creation, as always.
She now dreams of her own bakery-cafe in Uusikaupunki. Talking about dreams out loud makes them more real to her.
‘It would be a little cafe and factory store of sweet treats, where everything is homemade. Simple, but tasty pastries,’ she ponders.
Lately, Ilona hasn’t had much time to think about, let alone realize, new dreams. The upcoming Christmas will bring a welcome break to her busy life. She plans to spend it with her family in Uusikaupunki, enjoying being at home and sweet treats.
There will be an abundant supply of sweets in Ilona’s family throughout Christmas – more than anyone can eat.
‘This year, we might not have store-bought chocolates at all, I plan to make the candies myself,’ she plans.
The city’s enchantingly beautiful Christmas lights inspire her to go out for walks in the darkness of winter. Ilona says that sometimes she and her husband would spot Santa Clauses on their Christmas Eve jogging.
Now, she prefers to walk on the beach boulevard in the city center, regardless of the season.
‘What I love most in Uusikaupunki is the Kaupunginlahti beach,’ Ilona exclaims.
200 g butter
3 ½ dl sugar
5 ½ dl flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla sugar
60g almond flour
2 dl milk
2 tbsp sugar
50 g butter
0,5 dl cream
3,5 dl icing sugar
Sprinkles for decoration
Grease and breadcrumb a ring mold.
Melt the butter and pour into a mixer bowl.
Mix the dry ingredients together. Add them with the eggs and milk to the melted butter and mix until smooth.
Pour the batter into the mold and bake at 175 degrees Celsius on the lowest shelf of the oven for about an hour.
Unmold the cake while it’s still warm.
Melt the sugar in a pan, stirring constantly. As soon as the sugar turns light brown, remove the pan from the heat to prevent burning.
Add the butter to the sugar and let it melt. Pour in the cream and boil the mixture, stirring constantly.
Remove the pan from the heat, add the icing sugar, and mix until smooth. Cool for a few minutes.
Place the cake on a rack with baking paper underneath. Drizzle the frosting over the cake and decorate immediately.
The excess frosting will drip onto the baking paper, giving the cake a neat edge.