How a finance exec from the prairies turned into a Toronto cupcake mogul

On a typical Friday, Prairie Girl Bakery in Toronto whips up about 6,000 cupcakes. Global News/File photo

TORONTO – Becoming a cupcake mogul might seem like an about-face for a lawyer and financial executive, but for Jean Blacklock launching Prairie Girl Bakery seemed like a natural next step.

She spent a dozen years specializing in estate planning and tax law in Calgary before taking on a post as head of wealth services with the Bank of Montreal and eventually transferring to Toronto. But while planning a second marriage to a co-worker, she decided to take the plunge into a new career after 25 years.

Prairie Girl Bakery, named in an ode to her roots growing up in Saskatoon, was hatched in 2011.

Though she’s had no formal training in baking, it’s been a hobby since she was a child.

“I knew that I wanted my business to be in an area that I was passionate about, like food. But I also knew that I wanted the business to be large enough that it would actually need professional bakers that would take my recipes,” she says.

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“The intention was never that I would work in the business, although the recipes are mine. My intention was always to grow it into something that could service downtown Toronto.”

Now, with three locations and 25 bakers, it seems her wish has been fulfilled. A couple of years ago she began offering homemade cakes and also brought in cookies, brownies and tarts. Last fall she launched fondant-covered wedding cakes.

As if she’s not busy enough, Blacklock, 54, is graduating from the Toronto Institute of Relational Psychotherapy this spring after studying part-time for three years. She carves out a few afternoons a week from Prairie Girl Bakery to see clients as part of her studies.

And she’s just published “The Prairie Girl Cupcake Cookbook: Living Life One Cupcake at a Time” (Appetite by Random House), a departure from previous books she’d written on estate planning.

READ MORE: 4 tips to eating well on $4/day

The cookbook contains some 50 recipes for cupcakes sold at the bakery, including the five cake bases — vanilla, chocolate, red velvet, banana and carrot — along with seven standard icings ranging from vanilla bean and chocolate cream cheese to lemon, strawberry, peppermint, peanut butter and classic cream cheese.

Also in the book is a riotous range of decadent variations, along with gluten-free and vegan options.

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