It was an especially sweet moment for Angela Logan when the Teaneck, N.J. town council handed her the official proclamation of “Angela Logan Day,” after the April 10th premiere there of a TV movie about her life.
“That was the topper,” says the 60-year-old single mother of three, who couldn’t help crying while watching Apple Mortgage Cake. (She appears in a cameo role as a charity’s supervisor.)
The movie dramatizes Logan’s frenetic efforts to save her Teaneck home from foreclosure by baking hundreds of apple cakes. It premieres Sunday, April 20 on the UP cable network — formerly the Gospel Music Channel — and re-airs later in April and in May. The Up site, whose focus is uplifting entertainment, has dates and times.
Logan's 10-day epic cake-baking marathon made her a celebrity before it made her solvent. And therein lies the drama.
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In the summer of 2009, Logan was one of more than 2 million Americans facing foreclosure and fast running out of options.
The actress and occasional substitute teacher faced cascading crises after the recession hit: Her talent agency went under, her freelance teaching and modeling jobs dried up and a botched renovation left Logan with an unsafe home and a massive shortfall in her finances.
Her Hail Mary-pass solution: She’d bake 100 apple cakes in 10 days at $40 a pop and use the money for mortgage payments to stave off foreclosure. This not only worked, it soon became national news, which then led to the film.
“You feel like it should be a movie, and then it is a movie,” Logan told The Record, the New Jersey paper that first wrote about her cake-baking quest. Kimberly Elise (Beloved, For Colored Girls) plays Logan.
These days, Logan teaches physical education full time at a charter school in Newark and bakes “in every spare minute” at a rented commercial kitchen in Hawthorne, N.J. for her company, Mortgage Apple Cakes.
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“Buy a Cake, Save a Home”
Plenty of Americans are scrambling to turn their hobbies and talents into revenue streams. But few are successful enough to pay major bills the way Logan did.
She hadn’t planned on it. In July 2009, after months of delays, Logan learned that she could take advantage of a federal mortgage modification program that she applied for with the help of a credit counselor. Just one catch: She needed to come up with the first of three $2,559 mortgage payments owed to her lender.
With her bank account approaching zero, only minimal income from a part-time hairdressing job and the nursing degree she was studying toward far off in the future, Logan decided to throw the mother of all bake sales.
“I was planning to take accelerated courses during the summer and doing hair wasn’t bringing in enough money. So I said to myself: ‘What if I sell these cakes?’” Logan recalls.
“My grandmother taught me to bake and her cakes were so fresh and aromatic,” says Logan, whose memory of baking with her grandmother opens the film. For her apple cakes, she uses her grandmother’s recipe, with fresh Gala and Red Delicious apples and a generously iced, butter-and-cream cheese frosting.
Logan had already seen that the cakes were a hit when she baked them for friends and sold them at fundraisers. But having to ask people to buy them because she needed the money “was the most difficult thing I had to do in my life,” she says.
Logan began by calling and emailing friends, acquaintances, former co-workers and church members. She even stood and asked her fellow community-college students — “perfect strangers” — to buy a cake.
“When people have seen you on TV and you’ve been modeling and then you all of a sudden have no money and have to ask people for help — it’s humbling,” says Logan. “But offering a cake made it a little bit easier to say: ‘I’m losing my home.’ And then, ‘Will you buy a cake to help me save my home?’”
Scurrying to Satisfy Customers and Officials
The film highlights the burgeoning problems that came along with Logan’s burst of fame after the media picked up her story, and she was invited on national talk shows.
Orders came pouring in (some from as far away as Hong Kong and from servicemen in Iraq), making it hard for Logan to satisfy her prospective customers.
Then she got a notice from health officials that her house wasn’t zoned for a commercial enterprise, which could’ve shut down her business; a nearby Hilton offered its commercial ovens for seven days so Logan could continue production.
She was baking nonstop, studying for chemistry exams and frantically trying to find a shipper as hundreds of cakes filled up every refrigerator and freezer in the Hilton’s kitchen. Logan even feared going to jail for “fraud” if she couldn’t find a way to deliver them.
Logan says the film’s most poignant moment for her is “when Kimberly is baking all these cakes with no way to ship them and she asks God to help her move to the next level. That’s exactly the way it was.”
Deliverance quite literally came in the form of Bake Me A Wish, a Manhattan-based cake-delivery company that offered to take over delivery and production of the cakes at cost.
Taking Back Control
Logan was relieved, but ambivalent, about ceding control of the making and marketing of her family-recipe cake. After the licensing contract with Bake Me A Wish expired a year later, she took back the company and started from scratch.
“I felt obligated to be responsible for the blessing we were given,” says Logan, who now sells her cakes online at Maccakes.com and at farmers’ markets in New York and New Jersey. “I learned through my acting career the importance of getting your brand out there and how to market it,” says Logan.
She currently manages to bake from 11 at night to 6 in the morning at the Hawthorne kitchen, with help from her fiance, Melvin George, and two employees.
In addition to the Mortgage Apple Cakes (the 10-inch version sells for $35), there are four other varieties and a line of cupcakes. In February, she began shipping her cakes nationally.
Logan donates one cake a month to Zoe’s Cupcake Café, a Teaneck nonprofit that helps house teen mothers and sells the cake for $4 a slice.
What's Cooking In Logan's Future
Someday, Logan says, she hopes to open a store with even more of her apple creations: apple macaroons, apple crumb cakes, “maybe something with apples and chocolate.”
While she’s now out of crisis — and could get a major sales boost once the film airs — she notes that foreclosure “is something you never forget, and never get out of your system.”
That’s why her business still features the tag line she wrote: “Fighting Foreclosure One Cake At a Time.”
Barbara Bedway is a writer in Nyack, N.Y. Her essays and fiction will appear in the forthcoming anthology Talking Through the Door: An Anthology of Contemporary Middle Eastern Writing, from Syracuse University Press.