Ready for a bit of food, travel, and feel good entrepreneurial inspiration with Orlando’s Best Bakery?
For the love of pie! Have I got a deliciously inspiring conversation to share with you! I recently had the chance to chat with the owner of one of my favorite bakeries in Orlando, Sister Honey’s. We talked about food and travel inspiration. Her go-to for easy entertaining at home (she even shared her recipe for an easy mango lassi). What’s on her “someday list” and her advice for other entrepreneurs like her.
Let me introduce you to Evette Rahman, the baker extraordinaire behind the award-winning, Sister Honey’s Bakery.
I’m a fan of entrepreneurs’ start-up stories, especially of women in the food industry. As we kick off 2021, I’ve turned to amazing female entrepreneurs for inspiration.
Whether you’re looking for the best cakes and pies to share with family and friends, thinking about your “someday list”, indulging in virtual travel inspiration via your taste buds, or considering your next move in life, I hope you’ll be inspired by this post to #MakeSomedayHappen one delicious bite, sip, and trip at a time.
Grab a fork and let’s dig in!
Cakes & Pies Worthy of All The Awards are found at Sister Honey’s.
If you know Sister Honey’s Bakery, you know. Owner and professional baker Evette Rahman has won a plethora of awards.
In 2006 she entered the National Pie Championships and received the Blue Ribbon for her Orchard Fresh Apple Pie. That was only the beginning.
Multiple Blue Ribbons hang on the wall of the small bakery on busy Michigan street in the SoDo district. And you can’t miss the giant check for $10,000 naming her as the 2019 World Dessert Champion!
That’s if you’re even looking past the bakery case filled with gorgeous fresh baked cakes, pies, cupcakes, and more.
She’s been featured on the Food Network, included in the Family Circle Hometown Cooking Cookbook, and in the American Pie Council’s America’s Best Pies cookbook.
She was even a panelist on the Crisco® Pie Tips Hotline! Now I know who to call next time I’m stuck with a baking blunder at home.
Evette was inducted into Orlando Magazine’s 2020 Dining Hall of Fame. And, it’s no surprise, every major publication in Orlando has named Sister Honey’s as the “Best Bakery” at one time or another since they opened in July of 2012.
World Food Championship Winner!
She won “Professional Best in Show” at the APC National Pie Championships 3 years in a row and she’s a two-time winner of the dessert category at the world’s largest food competition, The World Food Championships.
If you’re familiar with these types of food competitions, you know WFC is the most intense. With more than 1,400 cooks from 42 states and 15 countries engaged in an epic “food fight,” it is not easy to win twice. Evette did!
And, she’s already won her golden ticket and registered to compete in the 2021World Food Championship this November in Dallas, Texas.
All You Need Is One Bite. I doubt you’ll be able to stop at just one!
Her phenomenal Triple Coconut Cake won her the top prize in 2016. In 2019 she created a winning Razzleberry Swirl Key lime pie. I’m anxious to see what winning dessert she comes up with next.
Take a bite of one of her epic desserts and you’ll know too. All these are well-deserved accolades.
The praise won’t stop any time soon.
She remains committed to being in her bakery’s small kitchen from early morning until late night. Always using premium ingredients to craft the best desserts in town for everyone who walks in the door.
A Warm Welcome!
As I walk into the bakery on a Thursday afternoon, behind the bakery case full of drool-worthy desserts and the row of cake stands on top brimming with all sorts of fresh-baked cakes and pies, I hear, and can barely see, Evette in the kitchen.
She greets me with a cheerful “hello!” as she looks up from the cake she’s decorating. I can tell there’s a big smile on her face, even though it’s covered by a pretty flower print mask.
Her warm greeting instantly makes me feel welcome. Like a mom waiting to feed her children a slice of freshly made pie after a long day at school. Everything is ok with the world as soon as you dig in. Your cares melt away, even for a minute of unabashed bliss. This is probably why she’s been so busy during this pandemic.
Decisions Decisions! What To Order at Sister Honey’s Bakery?
It’s easy to eat with your eyes at Sister Honey’s. It’s very tough to choose just one dessert.
Evette’s husband Andy manages the front of the house and takes care of ringing up and packaging your order. I tell him I can’t decide. There are about 12 different cakes and pies on display at the moment. Plus several flavors of cupcakes, bread pudding, tiramisu, cookies, bars, and more.
He patiently waits and allows my eyes to wander the case a bit more as I debate between the rich German Chocolate layered cake or the heavenly Coconut Cream.
I’m certain he deals with this all the time. The indecision.
Everything looks so good.
But he’s equally cheerful and patient. I can tell he and Evette make a great team. (He’s also her sous chef and main taste tester. An important position to hold!)
When deciding what to order, word of advice: do it quickly.
Cakes and Pies Practically Fly Out The Door at Sister Honey‘s.
I allowed a few other guests to go before me in line as I made my final decisions. By the time I got back up to order, the German Chocolate Cake was gone.
“You snooze, you lose,” I thought to myself. You gotta be quick at Sister Honey’s Bakery.
And then, a brand new Pistachio Cake with a gorgeous ombre green-hued frosting was brought out in its place. I did not hesitate to snag a piece of the coveted cake I’ve heard so much about.
At Sister Honey’s, if you want a specific dessert you better get it. Quantities are limited.
The website advises ordering ahead by phone or in person. Not all cakes and pies on the menu are available every day. Everything is made fresh daily. When they’re out, they’re out.
Now I have one more reason to return to Sister Honey’s. I must try that chocolate cake.
Celebrate Cakes & Pies!
There’s something uniquely special about a slice of pie. Whether you’re digging your fork into a warm fruit pie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side, or a silky cream pie piled high with whipped topping, it’s nostalgia and mouth-watering homemade goodness rolled into one.
Since 1986, The American Pie Council invites us to celebrate National Pie Day on January 23rd. There’s also “National Pi Day” on March 14th (3.14) which gives us a second day to love all pie shaped creations. January 27th is National Chocolate Cake Day but November 26th is National Cake Day – all cakes celebrated!
At Sister Honey’s Bakery, every day is pie and cake day!
You’ll find all sorts of pies and cakes available by the slice. I got Key Lime and Lemon Meringue on this visit. Last time I got a super dreamy Coconut Cream pie that did not travel well (I dropped it!) but ate beautifully. I resisted the urge to get a slice of the gorgeous Strawberry Cream and the warm Black Cherry Almond Streusel.
Mom’s Sweet Inspiration.
Evette named her bakery “Sister Honey’s” in honor of her mom, Eulalee Runcie. Better known as “Honey” and “Sister Honey” to all her church friends.
Her mom’s cheesecake was legendary. In fact, it was so sought after at church functions that Evette says “you were only allowed to take a little sliver of a slice.” It would quickly run out and people would get really upset if they didn’t get a bite.
And while the cheesecake was amazing, it was her fruit cakes and Jamaican black cake that were Evette’s personal favorites. This was not your typical fruit cake as we know it in the U.S. The kind that no one wants. This fruit cake was made with dates and fruits and nuts, port and rum. The kind of fruit cake from the islands that you can’t help but devour every bite.
Her mom grew up in Montego Bay, Jamaica. Dad’s Jamaican too. Although they moved to Upstate New York when Evette was three, you know there must have been a lot of island flavor – and a lot of love – in that kitchen.
And that love was passed down to Evette who was mesmerized by all the made from scratch goodies her mom prepared using the best quality ingredients. Something she’s proud to continue at Sister Honey’s Bakery.
“Every day I honor my mother, Sister Honey, by continuing the legacy of great baking.”– Evette Rahman
Foodie Travel Inspiration!
I was curious why Evette hadn’t added a fruit cake to her menu. She says she’s thought about it but not sure how people would react. Knowing how good all her desserts are, she could change the fruit cake’s reputation for good.
She shares a bit of foodie travel inspiration as she tells me she’s ordered the popular DeLuxe fruit cake from Collins Street Bakery in Corsicana, Texas. It hails back to 1896, known around the world having been featured on Netflix, Food Network, and more. It’s the one fruit cake “you don’t turn your nose up on” says Evette.
I have now added this fruit cake to my “someday list” to try!
As a chef and food’preneur, food is an important part of your life. What inspired you to share your passion for food with the world?
“I always had an interest in preparing foods since I was a small child. My mother was my main inspiration. She was always excited to create something new and make others happy. I felt that I needed to share this also.”
Evette recalls fondly flipping through the pages of cookbooks and magazines with her mom. Watching The French Chef with Julia Child and The Galloping Gourmet with Graham Kerr would always lead to inspired creations in the kitchen. Her mom loved putting her own spin on classic desserts.
Why open a bakery?
“I love the science of baking. It is one thing that can be controlled and you can produce the same product over and over again. I’ve always loved all kinds of baked items and desserts. Bread, danishes, cakes, cookies, and pies to name a few.”
Winning the 2006 American Pie Council National Championship contest with her Orchard Fresh Apple Pie sparked the competition bug for her. This started her delicious journey picking up ribbons and trophies along the way. Eventually leading to opening Sister Honey’s Bakery in 2012 featuring a winning menu comprised of all the pies she had won competitions for. She would often get requests for them so this was the perfect way to make it happen.
Tell me something about Sister Honey’s that you wish everyone knew?
“I wish everyone knew that we make all our desserts on-premises. Baking is not only a science but also an art. The process involves investing a good amount of time on each item” she shares.
I think with every bite, you can taste that it’s homemade.
Tell me what’s the “MUST EAT” pie on your menu that everyone should try at least once in their life?
“As the official state pie, Key Lime is a must-try, not only for Floridians, but visitors should not leave Florida without sampling a slice,” says Evette. She uses fresh hand-squeezed lime juice, not bottled, and you can taste the difference.
It had a wonderful light sweet-tart flavor. Very well balanced. And I loved that it didn’t have the bright green hue so often added to make it “look” authentic.
The Strawberry Cheese Pie which won Best in Show at the American Pie Council in 2014 and the Lemon Meringue are also popular choices. They are gorgeous pies, piled high with creamy whipped frosting and strawberries or meringue.
She always has a selection of cold pies on hand in the case. A few warm pies too sometimes. But they tend to fly off the shelves fast.
Apple pie is her classic go-to. I have a soft spot for apple pies too. It brings back wonderful memories of baking with my big sister as a kid and then proudly mastering an apple pie from scratch on my own in my tiny Miami dorm room. But unlike Evette, that’s where my baking career started and ended. One or two deliciously imperfect apple pies. Aah the sweet memories!
Let’s talk about the “MUST EAT” cake at Sister Honey’s Bakery.
Sister Honey’s menu offers a variety of layer cakes, pound cakes, sheet cakes, and cupcakes in all the popular flavors.
“It’s hard to choose just one cake,” she tells me when asked about the favorite. After tasting several of her fabulous cakes, I wholeheartedly agree.
“Coconut, Pistachio, and Hummingbird are all great. Rum cake is one of my favorites and definitely a cake to try. There is dark rum baked in the cake and it is also glazed with a rum sauce after baking. It is in high demand!” Evette says.
The Perfect Day with Ruby Rum Cake.
The Ruby Rum Cake is one of my favorites too! It’s not a wet cake like many of those mass-produced rum cakes you find in stores. It’s moist and tastes like rum and spices. Nuts and vanilla and all things good. Perfect pound cake to enjoy with a vanilla latte in the morning or afternoon.
So Many Scrumptious Choices.
If there’s one thing I’ve discovered after sampling many of Evette’s cakes and speaking to fans of Sister Honey’s is that there isn’t just one “Must Eat” cake.
Her menu is not overly extensive and each recipe has been painstakingly perfected. This means everything on the menu is a winner. Your “Must Eat” will depend on your own personal preferences and how you feel that day.
Carrot cake is Evette’s husband Andy’s favorite. It had already run out when I arrived around mid-afternoon.
Orlando Sentinel food writer, Amy Drew Thompson raves about the pistachio cake. I agree with how fantastic it is. With surprising crunchy pistachios baked right in and a pistachio filling and frosting, the cake itself is pillowy and not overly sweet.
Thompson said it best when she chose Sister Honey’s as the Critic’s Choice for Best Bakery in Orlando in the 2020 Orlando Sentinel Foodie Awards:
“There are no bad choices — anywhere — in this craft, quality cakery.”
My husband’s favorite is the sweeter Coconut Cake with its coconut custard filling and dreamy light whipped frosting topped with fresh coconut. The rich Triple Chocolate cake wins nods from chocolate lovers. And of course, if you love Southern desserts, the Hummingbird cake is not to be missed.
My advice: choose any slice of cake or pie, in fact, choose several. Grab a fork and settle in for a treat. You truly can’t go wrong at Sister Honey’s Bakery.
Eating great food usually comes with a sense of place. Where is the most unique or interesting place you’ve ever enjoyed a delicious slice of cake or pie?
“The most amazing desserts I can remember were the delicious things my mom made that really created a feeling of comfort and home,” says Evette.
As we talk about home, I’m curious about your go-to dish and drink pairing for easy entertaining family and friends.
“We love cuisines from all over the world. I grew up eating a lot of West Indian dishes. My husband [grew up] with Pakistani/Indian food. At home much of our food is a fusion. We are happy that we can keep traditions of our upbringing, yet enjoy the bounty of the American melting pot.” she says.
“We love pairing homemade spicy samosas with mango lassi, which is like a yogurt smoothie.”
I was thrilled Evette’s easy entertaining ideas came with a bit of travel inspiration. And even more grateful that she also shared her recipe!
Evette’s Mango Lassi Recipe
- 1 30oz can sweetened mango pulp (found at Indian markets)
- 4 cups whole or 2% milk
- 2 cups plain unsweetened yogurt
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- In a large blender, mix everything together until well combined.
- Serve chilled and over ice if desired.
If you have an average size blender you will need to make half the recipe at a time.
We’ve all missed traveling during this pandemic. When travel opens up, where do you wish to go first?
“I wish to visit family up North East, South Florida, and Jamaica.” she says.
Like Evette, rather than exotic or faraway traveo, I’m also anxious to visit friends and family in New York, Oregon and the Caribbean.
As a black woman-owned small business, what is your advice to other entrepreneurs who are inspired by your story?
“Stay true to yourself and forge ahead in what you believe in. It’s never easy. It’s sometimes endless hours of hard work. Take one step at a time.”
Wise words from Evette Rahman.
You got creative at the start of the pandemic. What did you learn?
During the initial pandemic quarantine, Evette and Andy operated based on advanced orders only. They also offered curbside pickup for the first 2-3 months. Menu offerings and hours of operation were posted on social media regularly to keep loyal customers informed. Something I advise all my marketing clients to do regularly.
They feel lucky that they remained busy. A testament that in times of trouble, we all need the sweet comfort her delightful cakes and pies provide.
Evette is not a classically trained chef with a culinary school degree. What she’s learned, she’s learned by doing. And countless hours of testing and taste testing with Andy. (lucky guy!)
She shares that she knows there are times she could probably be more efficient had she had formal training. They are a small operation. But she is creative. And always finds ways to get things done to delight her loyal customers. And that, in the end, is what is most important to them.
What are your plans for Sister Honey’s in 2021?
Evette responded quite succinctly:
“We plan to produce great products as always”
In our frenetic paced world, where entrepreneurs often feel a need to constantly pursue new and different ways to reinvent themselves, I’m inspired by Evette’s commitment to simply continue to provide the best desserts she can to make her customers happy.
She does mention that she wishes to eventually turn the bakery into a dessert cafe in a bigger space. As scary as expansion might be especially in these trying times, I can’t wait to see her make that dream a reality.
What is at the top of your “someday list” that you hope to check off soon and #MakeSomedayHappen?
“We have really outgrown our current business space. We would like to find a great location, so we are being careful about our next move.”
Do you have a favorite inspirational quote to leave us with?
“Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That is why it’s called a present.”
I love that Evette quoted one of my favorite quotes and attributed it to Kung Fu Panda’s wise Master Oogway. Love that movie.
The quote with slight variations is also attributed to quite a few people, including Bill Keane and Eleanor Roosevelt, which goes to show how popular it is.
Where is Sister Honey’s Bakery?
You’ll find Sister Honey’s at 247 E Michigan St. in Orlando, Florida. Call (407) 730-7315 to place your orders. Visit the website for more information.
Sister Honey’s current hours of operation are Tuesday-Saturday 11 am – 6 pm and closed on Sunday and Monday.
How To Order Sister Honey’s Cakes and Pies?
Evette and her small team bake fresh from scratch cakes, pies, and desserts daily. Stop in the shop on Michigan street and choose from a variety of cakes and pies sold by the slice. Not all items on her menu are available every day. So if you want to take home a specific cake or pie at Sister Honey’s, it’s best to order ahead, at least a week prior – or longer during holiday season. Orders can only be made in person or over the phone during our business hours.
Follow Sister Honey’s on social media for news on special holiday items available and order deadlines. Full payment is also due at the time of order. Again, this is a small business with a small crew. Be mindful of your expectations. They will run out early of the more popular items. But trust me, everything is good here! So if your favorite is not available, try another. As I said before, you can’t go wrong.
Rum Cake Now Shipping Nationwide.
People come from all over the world to try Evette’s award-winning cakes and pies. Pie lovers drive up from Miami and South Florida. Some have even requested to have pies flown as far as Hawaii. Online ordering for her famous Ruby Rum cake is currently available on SisterHoneys.com for shipping nationwide. Evette and Andy hope to increase this component of their business.
I hope you found a bit of sweet inspiration from Evette’s story and insights. If you know any women food’preneurs with an inspiring story, please message me. I would love to meet them!
“The success of every woman should be the inspiration to another. We should raise each other up. Make sure you’re very courageous: be strong, be extremely kind, and above all, be humble”– Serena Williams