Written for Food&Home. Originally published on 17 December 2022.

We were lucky enough to ask Heidi Demper, the baker behind Yum Baker, a few questions about her journey from launching Yum Baker during Covid-19 to now supplying over 40 Checkers stores in Joburg.

What was the inspiration behind the name and branding of Yum Baker?

Yum Baker’s name, or the “Yum” part, was actually inspired by my then 3 year old daughter. Testing recipes she would always tell me: It’s so Yum mommy! I could not think of a better more personal name when Yum came to life.

How do you want people to feel when they experience your products?

Love, home made, memories of their grannies’ kitchen.

What inspired the products you create?

We can still enjoy delicious food without the cruelty to animals.

What was your biggest challenge starting a business during COVID?

Printing, packaging was hard as most suppliers were closed at the time.

What was the most valuable lesson you learnt during this time?

Family comes first no matter how hard things can get financially. It’s still my motto today baking from home at night and weekends. Their needs come first, then my tourism job, and then the mixer comes out to bake at night and weekends.

How did you spread the word about your new home-based business?

I opened an online shop, Instagram and Facebook accounts and ran a few ads to get people to read more about Yum.

How long did it take to develop your products for Checkers?

It took about six months.

How did your kitchen set up change from the transition from home baking to supplying Checkers stores?

I invested in a 2nd hand oven after a few months, but other than that it’s still my home kitchen.

Were there any challenges from moving from home baking to supplying stores?

Not at all, it is still home baking just more accessible to the consumer.

What do you feel sets you apart from competitors?

I would hope the variety, I really tried to develop the basket to allow for all our childhood treats and some newer flavours like salted caramel cheesecake etc.

What inspired the festive range of products?

My time spent in grannies kitchen…All the xmas smells from mix spice to lemon rind.

Do you have a favourite from your range that people need to try first?

I love the Tiramisu. But everyone in my family has a different favourite.

What sparked your passion for baking?

The recipe development to vegan and, boy, when it works then it’s just YUM!!

What are your pantry must-haves?

Plant base milk, apples and flax seed.

Do you have any festive menu suggestions for buyers of your products?

Mmmhh, nothing is better than a thick slice of Yum fruit cake loaf, with a dollop of homemade mascarpone cheese, topped with a cherry and a mint leaf. The perfect ending to a festive meal or teatime treat.

What do you feel is the most important philosophy behind proudly South African vegan treats?

My commitment “for the animals” that we can still enjoy all our favourites without using any animal products.

Do you have any advice for home bakers that aspire to have their own baked goods in stores?

Reach out to retailers let them taste your bakes, you will never know the outcome if you don’t try!

How do you balance baking for work and baking for fun?

Work baking is done against time, it’s precise measurements, one cannot make mistakes they cost you time and money.

Baking for fun is done by hand, it’s mixing, messing, loads of licking and then at the end…how many sprinkles me and my kids can get onto a cupcake!! LOL! And I treasure these moments.

What is your vision for the future of Yum Baker?

Would love to get Yum to be available nationwide…my big dream for sure.

Any upcoming goodies we can look forward to?

We just launched our peppermint tart, lamingtons and our festive range. I would love for people to enjoy these for now over coffee, after a meal, with your gran, a cuppa tea…Time with family, friends and loads of YUM. Wishing you all a blessed 2023!

Feature image supplied by Heidi Dempers