Larissa Neto’s pies aren’t like the ones at the grocery store. Although the owner of Bakey Bakes is best known for her cookies and custom cakes, her holiday pies are wildly popular and defined by a similarly whimsical aesthetic. The fillings are pretty traditional (think pumpkin and bourbon chocolate pecan), but they might be topped with an intricately braided lattice or embellished with leaf flourishes made from pie dough. The deep dish, nine-inch pies are priced around $50. And if that price shocks you, Neto would like to have a word.
“I’ve been fighting against this since my career in baking started,” explains Neto. “At first I kept my prices competitive with stores. You start doing your budgeting and realize you haven’t made money this month. Or last month.”
When the cottage-licensed baker isn’t replying to emails, shopping for ingredients, or baking, she’s combatting the misconception that desserts made by a one-woman powerhouse should be as cheap as the mass-produced sweets found in major grocery stores. At Publix, for example, you can find standard pies for around $10. But they’re made in an industrial kitchen, and not necessarily with high-quality ingredients.
“There’s the fear of offering a price and losing the job, that’s everyone’s fear,” she says. “Until at some point, I lost that fear and decided I didn’t want the job anyway if I’m not paid like anyone else is paid for my craft.”
A combination of bombshell cake pictures and Neto’s honesty has gained her a loyal following on Instagram that stretches well beyond Atlanta. There, she uses her platform to set the record straight about pricing. She receives about 50-200 direct messages per day and, since the start of the pandemic, many of them have been from fledgling bakers who want pricing advice. “I think it's been hard to get people out of that mindset that we've been so predisposed to of seeing in boxes in stores,” says Neto.
Recently, she shared a series of Instagram Stories where she broke down the cost of a cake by ingredients and labor. It was eye-opening—a six-inch cake, for example, costs about $40 in ingredients and materials and might take seven hours to produce—and applauded by others in the industry. “I had winners from MasterChef contacting me,” she laughs. “I got hundreds of messages about it, and people not in the industry saying ‘Wow, I honestly had no idea.’”
Cake and pies might be the star, but her heart belongs to the baked goods of her homeland, Portugal. “I feel like I became a baker because I’m Portuguese,” she says. “We’re obsessed with baked goods and pastries.”
So while Neto might bake pies in flavors like apple caramel and decorates cakes with impressive buttercream succulents, she also tries to work Portuguese treats into the rotation. Recently, she sold broas de mel (her take on traditional honey cakes), which repurposed leftover carrot or coconut cakes and topped it off with a Portuguese egg custard. “They were a hit for sure,” she says. “I’m going to make them again.”
And, though people have warned her not to be so vocal or to reduce the prices of those $50 pies, she seems unbothered. The pies are even more labor intensive than cake, she says, and they are delicious and worth every penny.
“I think [speaking out] makes me more real, more human. I’m not a corporate company and I’m always fighting against that,” she says. “I want people to be excited over the fact that they got one of my pies because they’re going to look extra pretty. Maybe it’s my own little way of showing off.”
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