Trumansburg, N.Y. — After a yearlong hiatus, a Trumansburg woman has relaunched her bakery selling custom cakes, cupcakes and cookies to the Tompkins County sweet tooth.

Why I shop downtown — Marty

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In November, Amy Dawson opened a fully licensed kitchen on the second floor of her home to run the “Emoticakes” bakery. Dawson makes custom-designed pastries for weddings, birthdays, graduations, parties and other celebrations.

“I love the open-ended order when someone can’t quite express what they hope to have, and I design something that really hits it out of the park,” she says in a recent interview.

An example? A friend approached her the other day — the friend knew she wanted her puppy on the cupcakes, and Dawson says she was able to make 30 cupcakes to perfectly fit the theme.

Dawson, an art minor in college and a former middle school and high school math teacher, calls working for Emoticakes her favorite “medium for artistic expression.”

She says most of her requests are like this: “My daughter wants to have a ski cake with a cool, hip skier on the top … or here is the logo to my company, can you make it really pop?”


Dawson, 41, started the business in 2004 — “mostly for friends and family,” she says — but then learned she had to be licensed and began selling to a local shop. In 2008, she got a home processing certificate and kitchen inspection but closed up shop in 2013.

“After about eight months of looking at rental spaces and considering adding a separate kitchen to the house, we opted for a separate kitchen,” she said.

Dawson still teaches pre-school part-time, is the PTO co-president for her children’s middle school and the co-organizer of the May Day 5&5 race in Trumansburg, now in its 5th year.

She finds time to bake like this, however:

Dawson says grew up watching her mother baking — ”she did the classic cake decorating thing, and I just watched her through the years,” she says.

Dawson came back to cake baking as an artistic outlet, but it’s still a family venture. For instance, she says, when she makes a wedding cake she’ll take it to the back of her wagon, and her husband will take the wheel.

Then there are other times, she says, when the cake will rise unevenly, and she’ll have to chop off the extra parts of it. Dawson explains that these “cake levels” are one of the top perks of the job — free dessert for her, or whoever’s nearby.

“I’ll call to my husband: ‘There’s cake levels!,’” Dawson says. “And he comes running.”

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Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.