Born and raised in Round Rock, 12-year-old Ava Avila has been baking for most of her life. With the recent launch of her own cupcake business, Ava is busy baking, frosting and decorating personalized cupcakes for her Central Texas customers. Even at such a young age, Ava brings a lot to the table, balancing her academics and extracurriculars with her love for making all things sweet.
“For a typical day, I get up and swim from eight in the morning until noon,” Ava said. “If I have a cooking order, I work on the cupcakes until I go back to swimming at night. That’s my whole day. I’m homeschooled, so during the school year, I’ll start on an order, work on school, take my order out of the oven and let it cool (and) go back to my work. It’s a lot of balancing.”
Ava’s start in baking came from the experience of making her mother, Linda’s, birthday cake two years ago.
“I’ve always watched my mom bake and then I started watching some YouTube tutorials, but I knew that I really loved it from baking my mom’s birthday cake,” Ava said, smiling. “From there, I went to a cupcake class at Over the Top Cake Supplies and that’s where I baked my first batch of cupcakes. I loved it. My mom and I decided to start selling cupcakes to our friends and then it kind of just took off.”
She cooked up a storm at the recent June 21 Leander City Council meeting, charming council members, city officials and citizens alike with her delightful desserts honoring retiring Mayor Chris Fielder.
As a young baker, Ava is excited to tackle the biggest of challenges, including baking over 200 cupcakes in honor of the Burnt Kitchen’s grand opening in Leander. She gave the cupcakes a fiery flair, piping flames on the cakes and setting fondant “B’s” and “K’s” carefully onto the whips of frosting.
“I did the grand opening for the Burnt Kitchen restaurant in Leander on May 25,” Ava reminisced. “The owner asked me to bake over 200 cupcakes. It was challenging because sometimes cupcakes take a long time to bake and frost and put fondant on. It’s all about timing.”
“She learned the importance of managing her time with that large order,” added Linda. “She is able to tell when she is supposed to start so that she is able to finish on time which is really useful.”
Ava and Linda have worked hard to make sure the business runs smoothly. Usually, Ava does a few orders of a dozen cupcakes per month. When Ava gets an order, she tracks it in a booklet, calculating the cost of all the ingredients and the time it will take to complete the order. The price is formed through these calculations and she works through the order, packages it and delivers it to her customers.
For Ava, baking is all about the beauty of imperfection and the room for growth that it provides.
“To me, baking reminds me that I’m not perfect and that means I can always learn more,” Ava said. “Hopefully, when I get older I can start reaching as close to perfection as possible.”
In striving for culinary greatness, Ava says she’s grateful for the missteps she’s had along the way.
“One time, I was making a batch of cupcakes and it was really rushed,” Ava laughed. “My mom was helping me and we were trying to bake the cupcakes as fast as possible because we were running out of time. We put the cupcakes in the oven and forgot to put on the timer so they were in there and they started to really smell. We forgot all about them! We threw open the oven and smoke came out. They were chocolate so you couldn’t tell on the outside but they were really burnt and stuck to the bottom of the pan.”
Linda said that Ava has dealt with struggle in her life, having difficulty with reading, and sees baking as a creative, formative way of life for her daughter.
“I love to see my daughter be successful,” said Linda. “I love the fact that I’ve seen her just spread her wings. I’ve seen her mature, grow, and take responsibility. It’s just been a beautiful experience. It’s her gift and I’m so proud because she’s grown into a beautiful and mature young lady. Baking has been an avenue that has made her blossom.”
Ava said her next step is to create a bilingual YouTube baking channel for English and Spanish speakers to enjoy baking. In the future, she hopes to open a bakery in Texas and become the Cupcake Wars champion. She also advises other aspiring bakers to enjoy what they do and work hard.
“You’ve gotta do what you love and try your hardest when you do it,” Ava said.
To contact Ava for an order, call 512-293-5837 or message her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SweetestThingCupcakesRoundRock/. You can also follow Ava on Instagram at cupcakes_by_ava.