PASSAIC, N.J.– Former Passaic Police Sgt. Maria Galan jokes that she traded in her badge for a rolling pin when she retired from the force and started baking cakes.
"It was a passion I didn't even know I had," said Galan, who started taking baking lessons after the birth of her second child eight years ago. "I wanted to learn to bake cupcakes and decorate them so I could send them with my [oldest] daughter to her Pre-K class."
The basics weren't enough for Galan, however. She continued taking classes and "fell in love" with one dedicated to fondant icing.
"It was like working with Play-Doh but it’s edible," said Galan, 46, of Wayne.
The first year, she baked and decorated for fun, even volunteering to make sweets for anniversaries and birthday parties. During that time, Galan said she learned by trial and error.
"Then from there it took off," said the Puerto Rican-born Galan. "Everything came natural for me.”
Ninety-percent of Galan's clientele is from referrals, she said.
Most of the requests are for pop culture items – superheroes or emojis.
Galan even made a suitcase-shaped cake for a college-bound student planning to major in International Studies.
Cakes generally start around $50 – but can cost a few hundred dollars based on the design. Then, the whole process can take 16-20 hours.
"I like to work around people's budgets to get it done," Galan remarked.
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