PINE TOWNSHIP – Lots of love goes into the baked goods created by McKenzie Saunders.
The 18-year-old woman from Pine Township runs Cutie Pie Cupcakes – a nod to a childhood nickname – selling a variety of sweet treats for a good cause.
“People are ordering as we speak,” her mother Kim said as they walked around the RV where all the orders are placed.
Saunders first fell in love with baking at age 13, when she baked chocolate peanut butter cupcakes for a church event.
“It spread from there,” she said, adding that this cupcake was her biggest seller.
Initially, she was cooking at home, but she needed a larger workspace once new orders came in.
Saunders has fitted the RV with a commercial oven capable of baking eight dozen cupcakes at a time, and it’s located outside the family home.
Rows of food coloring, candies, cookie cutters and frosting nozzles line the shelves and drawers, and three sturdy mixers – named Tracy, Stacy and Macy by her mother – consume an entire counter.
She’s baked hundreds of cakes, cupcakes, cookies and more, donating a portion of the proceeds to an organization close to her heart.
Ten percent of every order goes to Shared Hope for Orphans Worldwide, or SHOW, a nonprofit created by her parents, Brian and Kim.
SHOW supports orphans in Uganda and helps provide community resources and schooling. McKenzie Saunders is also sponsoring a child there.
She has five brothers, two of whom were adopted from Uganda.
Saunders traveled to Uganda, where she led a cupcake workshop for some of the children.
“They really enjoyed it,” she said, adding that she had organized lessons and private lessons locally.
Her mother recalls a Christmas when Saunders presented her parents with $1,000 she had saved selling her baked goods; the money was for the orphanage.
“There were just tears everywhere,” Kim Saunders said.
She is very proud of her daughter and some customers seek out Cutie Pie Cupcakes as they know part of the proceeds go back.
Saunders, who is also a dance teacher, has a trailer that she takes to community events and she can fill orders for any occasion.
Some customers come up with their own designs or Saunders may suggest ideas. She often draws inspiration from social media sites like Pinterest and baking shows.
Rainbows, unicorns, Minecraft and candy cakes are very popular right now. Saunders has a printer that produces edible designs and images, and she enjoys seeing people’s reactions to the finished product.
“I remember a girl jumping up and down,” she said of a two-tiered purple cake.
Saunders makes her own icing and can work with fondant. The cost of her supplies has gone up and she is struggling to find powdered sugar.
But she loves what she does and thanks her family and clients for their support and encouragement.
For more information on Cutie Pie Cupcakes, visit the bakery’s Facebook page; website, cutiepiecupcakes.com; or call 724-734-7003.