Cookies are the perfect dessert; these round delights have everything anyone could want. Soft and gooey? Golden and crispy? Chocolatey? Minty? Salty? You name it. They’re truly one of the most versatile sweets and there’s nothing quite like biting into a homemade cookie.
Ayesha Hiyaz, a South African national who has been married and residing in Sri Lanka for the past 10 years, had the same line of thought and decided to open her own little cloud bakery: Cape Cookies. As every good bakery, she too began her brand with the simple motivation of a self indulgent craving. In conversation with Brunch, Ayesha told us she was inspired to open Cape Cookies, back in 2020, when she was craving some of her favourite childhood cookies but could not buy them. “The specific kind of cookie I like wasn’t available in the market, so I ended up having to bake them myself. I then got the idea of turning it into a small business since it was something different,” she told us, sharing her motivation behind Cape Cookies.
Over the last year, she has experimented and developed her cookie recipe to perfection, and now can proudly say that she has not one, but a whole variety of cookies that her customers can choose from. As she puts it, “there is one for every palate”. We asked her what her bestseller has been so far, to which she informed us that it was undoubtedly the Snicker cookies – one that even we had never heard of or tried before – so it’s no surprise that there’s a demand for a cookie that isn’t available anywhere else. Giving us more details, she elaborated: “It’s a chocoholic’s dream and one of my own favourites as well.”
Another fan favourite that she named was their cranberry and white chocolate chip cookies with a touch of cashew and topped with almonds. Their classic butter cookies dipped in chocolate tops the charts at number three – all of which sound like a dream indulgence. When talking about what’s new for Cape Cookies, she told us that they also recently introduced a puff pastry range. “They come with a filling of your choice: We have chocolate, raspberry jam and apricot jam filling and will be adding custard filling and banoffee filling to the menu soon,” she told us, adding that these are a must try if she must say so herself.
The last year was without a question full of hardships and challenges for all small businesses. Ayesha too, was a victim of the times. She told us that they have definitely been affected by the ban on imports as many of their ingredients were imported but added that they have managed to improvise. Despite these obstacles, she said: “We will continue to provide good quality products and refuse to compromise on quality.”
Aside from the recent shortages and import restrictions, Ayesha told us that her most difficult function is walking the fine line between quantity: it’s either overbaking or not having enough cookies later on in the day. “There is no set pattern of daily activity so one Monday I could sell out early and then the next Monday I could be left with dozens of cookies not sold,” she told us, explaining that solely for that reason, they are now working on a minimum quantity and pre-order basis. Ayesha shared: “It is a setback because some regular customers only want a small quantity but they buy daily so we are still trying to work that one out.” On the same topic, she added that it’s safe to say they are still on a learning curve and feeling their way forward, but we must commend how well they’ve done, taking into consideration the current situation.
She also revealed that they also have plans to maximise sales potential. “I anticipate the expansion of the gift basket market, build up of wholesale accounts and possibly the introduction of party and corporate supply,” she concluded, adding that it will no doubt take time but they are taking one step at a time.