With thousands of followers online and recent attention from the TODAY show and Oprah, Courtney Rich has become something of a cake sensation. “Cake by Courtney” features Courtney’s decadent recipes and tutorials, with each slice worthy of celebration. However, her journey hasn’t always been sweet. Courtney’s story of ditching the box cake mixes and starting her own business is one of faith, empowerment, and yes, lots and lots of frosting.
While life is definitely better with cake in it, Courtney never intended for baking to play such a large (or important) role in her life. In fact, she didn’t bake cakes at all through her early adulthood years. She went to college and got a degree in Broadcast Journalism. She worked in media consulting, got married, and started a family. It wasn’t until her son turned one, nearly eleven years ago, that she made her first cake from scratch.
“ I wanted to do something special for him, but to be honest, I also wanted to impress my in-laws,” Courtney said. “They’re really good cooks and I there’s no way I was making a cake from a box! I remember being in my small apartment kitchen, pulling out all my ingredients and following along a Bon Appetit magazine recipe. The end result didn’t look anything like my cakes now, but it tasted amazing and I was so proud of myself. I felt so empowered as I stood back and looked at my cake. I did that!”
But it was more than just a feeling of empowerment for Courtney. It was an answer to a prayer and a small light at the end of a very dark tunnel. When Courtney was 19, she was diagnosed with depression and anxiety.
“At times I couldn’t get out of bed and cried to Heavenly Father, “What’s wrong with me? What happened?” I had always been a positive, happy kid. This somewhat sudden change in persona shocked me and scared me. For years I struggled to understand myself and longed to feel Heavenly Father’s presence. Deep down I knew He was there – I just couldn’t find Him. Instead, I felt very alone. No matter how many people were around me, I felt alone because I couldn’t feel my Savior.”
In discovering her love and talent for baking cakes, Courtney felt she had found a refuge and a connection to God.
“For nearly six years I just baked because I loved it. I felt like I had found my happy place again. I had found peace,” Courtney said. “I eventually decided to share this talent with others because I knew it was a gift from our Heavenly Father. He didn’t come right out and tell me that – quite the contrary. I had to find it. And as I worked to develop it and seek Heavenly Father’s guidance in my life along the way, I was better able to see how His hand played a role in piecing together my life to bring me exactly where I am today.”
Today, “Cake by Courtney” is more than just recipes. It’s a community of support and empowerment. Courtney doesn’t just provide recipes; she teaches classes and works hard to help others feel joy in learning something new.
“I love being in a cake class and showing students my techniques and tips for creating great tasting and beautiful looking cakes,” Courtney said. “As the student applies the lessons they’ve learned, they start to create something beautiful all on their own – something they never thought they could do. But when given the right tools and knowledge, they’re empowered and confident. My favorite moment is when a student steps back from their cake when the class is over and smiles with pride (and a little surprise) – I did that! Every time it takes me back to that same moment I had with my very first cake and reminds me why I love doing what I’m doing. It’s empowering to empower others!”
Courtney offers a variety of ways to start enjoying the delights of cake. She posts recipes online complete with video tutorials, teaches classes, and even has a super fun cake club subscription box service with everything you need to make amazing cakes at home. Some of her most popular recipes include the Almond Joy cake, the Peanut Butter and Jelly cake, and the Caramel Apple cake.
While Courtney definitely focuses on the cake, she’s not shy about sharing her testimony of Jesus Christ with others. A Latter-day Saint, her faith is simply a part of who she is and she believes it goes hand and hand with all she’s trying to accomplish.
“I know that I have the opportunity with social media to share my talents with others, but I also know I have a responsibility and privilege to share goodness on these platforms as well,” she said.
When inspired, she shares quotes or messages related to the gospel and spends time praying about how and when to share. She openly shares her belief in God on her website, speaks with youth about her journey, and starts discussions on social media.
“I’ve had several opportunities to speak to women and young women in the Church about my cake journey (one that has so much more to it than just cake) and how the Gospel of Jesus Christ has played a role in helping me discover and develop my talents, as well as understand my purpose in God’s plan and how I can use my talents to share the light of Christ with others,” Courtney said.
“I’ve also had the privilege of talking to some of my readers about my faith via social media. I truly believe Heavenly Father wants us to use these amazing media platforms for good. I don’t overload my account with Gospel-related messages or scripture, but there are times I have strong impressions to share uplifting life lessons or positive messages from leaders of the Church as it relates to circumstances in my life. It’s been really neat to see how those messages strike a chord with others. Often times I’ll get private messages asking about my faith because of these posts. I love being able to tell people what I believe in. And each time I’m given that opportunity, I’m reminded that my talents are truly a gift from our Heavenly Father and I’m not only meant to share my talents with others, but also the light of Christ.”
Though Courtney’s cakes have come a long way since that first attempt, it’s her testimony of Heavenly Father’s love that has seen the greatest transformation.
“I honestly have nothing but hope for the future! That’s not to say I’m naive and don’t expect trials and challenges to come my way – they certainly do everyday. I guess what I’m saying is that I have a very different outlook on life than I did 10 years ago,” Courtney said. “I spent a long time believing Heavenly Father wasn’t there for me. I would often think that maybe He had more important things to do and comforting me or talking to me wasn’t one of them. However, as I’ve worked to discover and develop the talents He’s blessed me with and as I’ve taken the time to share it with others, I’ve been able to better see God’s hand in my life. I’ve realized that His hand was there all along – I just wasn’t working hard enough to see it.
So for me, when I say I have nothing but hope for the future, I’m saying that I believe God has a plan for me. And I know that His plan will have trials (I’ve already encountered many) but I also know that His plan has answers, it has comfort, it has forgiveness and it has guidance. I have hope because I know that He won’t leave us comfortless and even though we may feel lost at times, there is always a way forward because of Him.”
If you’re interested in learning more about Courtney’s decadent cakes and journey, check out cakebycourtney.com.
Aleah is a graduate of Southern Virginia University, where she studied English, Creative Writing, and Dance. She now works full time as a marketing and product manager, writer, and editor. Aleah served a mission in California and loves baking, Lang Leav poetry, Gaynor Minden pointe shoes, and Bollywood movies.