Life is challenging at times, but some folks have more determination than others to push through it all, and Angela Logan is one of these people. She is made of sterner stuff than the average Joe. The New Jersey resident made headlines 11 years ago when she found a way to triumph over losing her Teaneck home to foreclosure by baking hundreds of apple cakes that turned into a lucrative business called Mortgage Apple Cakes.
Angela, the oldest of four siblings, who grew up in Atlanta, Georgia, learned to bake and cook from her maternal grandmother. She was also the first in her family to earn an undergrad and graduate degree. Once upon a time, Angela was an actress, comedienne, and substitute teacher.
During the mortgage crisis over a decade ago Angela’s bills began mounting. An unscrupulous construction contractor ran off with her money and left her with an unfinished and unsafe home renovation. The talent print agency Angela had signed up with suddenly closed and failed to pay her for jobs. At the time, she held a $10 an hour job at a hair salon.
Despite Angela’s nightmarish financial situation, the mortgage on her home was still due. Angela’s entrepreneurial gears went into overdrive. She thought about how her three sons loved her signature apple cake consisting of Gala and Red Delicious apples with cream cheese frosting. A childhood memory also kicked in, Angela remembered how her mother was referred to as the “cake lady.” So Angela brainstormed and came up with the idea of selling apple cakes to raise enough money to save her home.
Angela worked with a credit counseling service that helped her to become eligible for a federal mortgage modification program. She was given a deadline of 10 days to come up with the initial fee of $2,560 in order to qualify. So Angela set a goal for herself, to bake 100 cakes in 10 days at $40 each.
Stepping outside of Angela’s comfort zone to aggressively sell her cakes via every way she knew how was a feat. She tapped every available contact from former schoolmates, to church members, to friends, and family. It just so happened that one of Angela’s classmates was so impressed with her buy-a-cake-save-a-home strategy that the person reached out to a writer/friend who worked for New Jersey’s second largest daily newspaper, The Record. The writer was fascinated by Angela’s story and wrote a feature on the “Cake Lady.”
The Associated Press picked Angela’s story up and it went viral.
The Mortgage Apple Cakes Lady was getting media coverage all over the country in print and on television. Angela Logan became an instant celebrity selling her scrumptious Mortgage Apple Cakes. With the help of her three teenage sons, Marcus, William and Nicholas, husband Melvin George, neighbors and friends she was able to bake and deliver the cakes.
A few years later, Angela and her Mortgage Apple Cakes company was one of the few food businesses selected to cater the Super Bowl XIV’s VIP tailgate party.
In 2014, Up TV, a cable network aired an original movie, Apple Mortgage Cake about Angela’s quest to save her home. The film starred Kimberly Elise. Angela even had a cameo in the movie as a supervisor of a charity organization.
A year after the movie debuted, Angela opened up her Mortgage Apple Cakes Bakery & Café in Teaneck. Since the current pandemic, the café’s foot traffic has decreased, however, orders are being accepted through Gold Belly, a distribution company Angela has partnered with. She has expanded her Mortgage Apple Cakes company to include such delicious treats as apple rum upside down and caramel apple cakes. She also bakes coconut pineapple and death by chocolate cupcakes.
Angela has been with her comedian husband Melvin for 21 years. Melvin and her now adult sons are very supportive of her business endeavors.
Angela spoke to 50BOLD about how she came to build her Mortgage Apple Cakes empire through determination, faith and undeniable grit.
50BOLD: You grew up in Atlanta, Georgia. Did you have a happy childhood?
Angela: Yes, I did. My mom was a single mom. I spent a lot of time at my grandma’s house where I became very interested in food and cooking. She had a big garden in the back with all kinds of stuff. My grandma did canning and could take a pig and make everything from soap to lard from it.
My grandma could make anything taste good. My grandfather would often come back with something he had hunted. We had squirrel, rabbit and possum. The butter still had speckles of milk on it. That’s how fresh everything was. When my grandmother made a cake, oh my God, it had more flavor than sweetness.
50BOLD: When your house went into foreclosure were you doing Sisterlocks at a hair salon?
Angela: When my house went into foreclosure I was still acting, mostly doing print ads. I had an agent for commercials, one for acting, and another for print. I had completed a lot of assignments for the talent print agency that closed without paying me.
I went to the unemployment office and learned that nurses were always employable. I also learned through the unemployment office that I could take classes for free. I went to Bergen Community College and took classes in anatomy, physiology and chemistry.
I was really excited about school and was making As. But my bills were still outstanding. My mortgage was still due and this caused me a lot of anxiety.
The other thing I could do was bake cakes. I had been baking apple cakes and my kids loved them. My mama was known as the cake lady growing up. I thought about making and selling apple cakes as a business model.
50BOLD: And what about the shady contractor? He took your money and left your house unfinished and unsafe? Did all this happen around the time of your foreclosure?
Angela: Yes, the contractor situation took place around the same time as the foreclosure. The contractor’s girlfriend was the one who told us, “He’s been stealing from you. He’s doing drugs. He’s overcharging you.” We had paid the man way too much money. We should have researched how much we should have been paying him.
50BOLD: Then you decided to bake 100 cakes in ten days for $40 each. How did you come up with that formula?
Angela: Yes. I decided to bake 100 cakes in ten days because I had been working with NJ Consumer Credit Counseling Service and they were trying to secure a federal home loan modification for me. We had been trying for six months. There was a lot of red tape involved in the process.
The modification was going to save my home. You have to be able to pay three months worth of mortgage. I had ten days in which to get the money together.
50BOLD: Ten days, wow!
Angela: Ten days! That’s when I went online and used all the management skills I had learned. If you want to plan something, put the goal in the middle and surround it with people and places to help you achieve that goal.
I created an elevator speech. “My home is in foreclosure and I’m trying to sell 100 cakes in ten days to save my home. Will you buy a cake to help me save my home?”
I used my email as the first place to advertise. My husband, showed me how to put PayPal into my email so that when people ordered cakes, they could pay me through the system.
At the time I was studying for exams and baking. The entire period was an out-of-body experience. I don’t remember those days very well because I was baking day, night, around the clock to get those cakes done.
Cutting all the apples from scratch, there is a pound in every cake. I was cutting a huge number of apples by hand. Peel, core and cut. I had only two mixers.
50BOLD: How did you get the national media exposure for your cakes?
Angela: A classmate told her Scrabble partner Jay Levin, about me. At the time, he wrote the obituary column for The Record newspaper. He had to get an approval from his editor to do a feature story about me.
Before we even saw the article — it was 6:00 am on a Friday morning, I got a knock on the front door. It was Sean Adams from WCBS News. Sean said, he had read my story. I was interviewed by Sean that day in my kitchen. The story made the internet and radio. The Associated Press also picked up the story.
We then got another knock at the door followed by many others. And before we knew it, we had news people in our hallway waiting to get my story.
Angela: News vans were parked outside my house.
50BOLD: I know CNN News and NBC-TV’s Today Show covered you. Were you able to bake 900 cakes and earn $36,000 as the result of the media coverage you received?
Angela: The media coverage that really helped us to obtain the money to save our home was the Fox News Morning Show and Fox News Business. The NBC-TV Today Show and CNN News interviews came later.
Fox News sent a limousine to bring me down to their station. The other news people waited outside my home. After doing the Fox News Morning Show before I could get back into the limo, my phone blew up. People started calling from all over the nation. When I got home my email was so extensive.
Later, we discovered how I couldn’t commercially bake from home. I had to get a food handling license. By that time, Hilton Hotel in Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey had reached out to me. They allowed me to use their six convection ovens and giant mixer.
50BOLD: How long were you utilizing the Hilton Hotel kitchen?
Angela: Just a week. Hilton let me use their chef, they gave me a restaurant depot card so that I could go buy stuff that I needed. I remember I bought 100 lbs. of apples; I was going to bake 100 cakes.
50BOLD: What happened after you used the Hilton Hotel kitchen? Where did you then go?
Angela: While I was at the Hilton I made 500 cakes my first weekend there. By the next weekend I had baked 900. We were delivering my cakes in our cars all over New Jersey and New York.
The 500 cake orders came in from all over the United States. How are we going to get the cakes to these people? Bam! Bake Me a Wish (an internet gift company) called. “We will bake the cakes and ship them for you,” a rep said.
50BOLD: What! So you gave the internet company your cake recipe, how does that work?
Angela: No, I didn’t just give them the recipe. We had to go through lawyers and had to come up with a non-disclosure agreement. The company had to go through food scientists to put recipes together to see which ones were most like mine. Bake Me a Wish bakes through their manufacturer and this is how we got the cakes shipped across the U.S.
50BOLD: Do you still use Bake Me a Wish?
Angela: No, that deal was licensed for one year. We knew how important branding was. We went on NBC-TV’s Today Show that following week. When we went on CNN, they said the name of my company was Mortgage Apple Cakes. We were then branded overnight nationally and internationally.
We found out my story had made it to Hong Kong, London, Germany, Africa. This was incredible news – a woman baking cakes to save her home.
I even went on TLC’s Cake Boss TV show. We realized we needed a foundation for selling. We didn’t have a website at the time. So in the meantime, we found Farmer’s Markets where we could sell the cakes.
50BOLD: Now, you opened your store Mortgage Apple Cakes Bakery & Café in 2015 in Teaneck, New Jersey.
Angela: Yes, a year after the movie Apple Mortgage Cake came out in 2014, I opened my bakery and café.
50BOLD: There are certainly so many pieces to your story but all good. Do you bake your cakes right at your business location?
Angela: Yes, I bake my goods right on the premises of my bakery and café.
50BOLD: After the one week of utilizing the Hilton Hotel facilities, I understand you utilized an entrepreneurial kitchen. What is an entrepreneurial kitchen?
Angela: An entrepreneurial kitchen is a rented space that has ovens, mixers, everything you need. There are several companies working at these kitchens. Just from working in these entrepreneurial kitchens you can learn a lot from people who are running food businesses.
50BOLD: What is a typical day like for Angela Logan?
Angela: I get up at 3:00 am. I check my Gold Belly account. Gold Belly is a company that distributes for food entrepreneurs. They taste your food and if acceptable, you get to use them as a distributor. What they do is advertise your food and then people order the products.
After checking Gold Belly, I then go to my store and begin baking. I have helpers who come in between 8:30 and 9:00 am. We start fulfilling our orders and this usually goes on until about 6:00 pm.
50BOLD: How are you making out in this current pandemic?
Angela: What saved us is partnering with Gold Belly. We shipped more than we ever have. Our sales have gone up by 292% in the past months with them.
We are learning as you go along. From working the VIP Tailgate Party at the 2014 Super Bowl, we learned about Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses. It is a program for small business owners to gain practical skills in areas such as negotiation, marketing, and employee management. What the company does is invite you to seminars that will help you grow your business. The program is free but you have to be accepted. The program taught me so much about business management.
50BOLD: QVC asked you to be a participant on their show, correct?
Angela: Yes, QVC asked me to go on their show to promote my products. I lost out on QVC deal because in order to do the volume they require, I needed a co-packer (a company that could manufacturer 1,000 cakes per week). I did not have that capacity.
Right now, I’m working on developing the capacity and certifications needed to be featured on QVC.
50BOLD: That’s right, most people are quarantining during this pandemic so you won’t have many walk-ins.
Angela: Right, there was nobody coming into the store. Maybe one person a day. And we wear masks and gloves anyway when we bake because there is a lot of flour all around and we don’t want to come down with this illness referred to as baker’s asthma. The condition is like bronchitis. It is an occupational allergic disease caused mainly by the inhalation of flour.
50BOLD: Angela, what do you like best and least about what you do?
Angela: What I like least is that this is the hardest work I have ever done. It is not just the physical baking that has to get done, but running the business end which can be emotionally taxing.
What I like best about the business is seeing people’s faces light up when they eat my products. I also like the fact that we’ve gotten to do a lot of fundraising for various causes. It’s very exciting. Having this business has introduced me to a whole new world of people who are doing things to help other people.
50BOLD: In the movie Apple Mortgage Cake, Kimberly Elise portrays you. BTW, you had a cameo role in the film as Sheila, the director of a charity organization. The role must have been exciting because it took you back to your acting roots.
Angela: The experience was exciting because I love Kimberly Elise; she nailed me. On April 10, 2014, the Teaneck Town Council proclaimed Angela Logan Day. The PR people from UP TV had a big screening of the movie that evening at the local Teaneck theater. When I walked into that jam-packed theater, everyone stood up. Pictures were being snapped as I walked down the aisle. It was a huge event in my life. I had never received an Academy Award, but I felt like I was getting one that day.
50BOLD: Angela, how do you see Mortgage Apple Cakes expanding in the future?
Angela: A long time ago, I had written down a plan for a house of culture and cuisine. It would be Angela Logan’s Mortgage Apple Cakes Culture and Cuisine. We’d have a bakery, and offer southern foods in the store. I want to offer food like the kind my grandma used to make.
I want to also buy equipment to put in the bakery to demonstrate how my products are made so that people can see the process. The set up would look something like a museum and be featured as the evolution of cake baking from the spoon to the mixer. My concept for it all… Just like Grandma Used to Make but Faster.
50BOLD: Love it! Angela, when you get to the gates of heaven what will God say to you?
Angela: “Cake Lady, you can finally lay your spoon down!”
Mortgage Apple Cakes Bakery & Café is located at 740 Chestnut Ave, Teaneck, NJ 07666, 201-371-3121; www.maccakes.com. Online orders are taken through Gold Belly: https://www.goldbelly.com/mortgage-apple-cakes