It's not unusual for a child to love to spend time in the kitchen, but rarely the way 10-year-old Kourtesy Lee does.
When Kourtesy was 6 years old, she made her first cupcake from a mix.
At 8, she made her first cake from scratch, using a recipe from her great-grandmother Allie Williams' collection.
Now, Kourtesy is a full-fledged baker with her own small business, Kourtesy's Kupcakes & More, LLC. She has regular customers who order cakes and cupcakes on a weekly basis, and others who order for special occasions. Red velvet and pineapple upside-down cakes, strawberry cheesecake, brownies and banana pudding are specialties.
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She also is willing to tackle special requests.
Kourtesy was inspired by Cake Boss, a reality television series that airs on the cable television network TLC. The show follows the operations of Carlo's Bakery, a family-owned bakery in Hoboken, N.J.
"I watch it a lot," she said.
The success of her business has taken her outside of kitchen. She has made personal appearances at Macy's for bridal events, where she displays her "wedding dress cake," formed from 26 white swirly cupcakes. She has had requests to make the wedding dress cake for five bridal showers.
And her baking repertoire is always expanding.
"She tries just about anything she sees," even making homemade rolls, said her mother, Alena Branham.
Her love for baking is something "she just picked up," her grandmother Connie Rayford said.
"We've just been amazed. I'm proud of my daughter, just allowing her to do it, and not hindering her by saying she's too young."
Clearly, Kourtesy's mother and grandmother are supportive of her talent. They've even helped her get a TV cooking show. Richard Fitzpatrick, the producer of the film Heart of a Champion, has filmed a show pilot called Cooking with Kourtesy. The filming is complete, and Fitzpatrick is editing the film to send to a few cable networks.
"She's had to get used to the camera real quick," Rayford said.
A fifth-grader at Booker T. Washington Elementary, Kourtesy bakes even if there are no special orders waiting. She likes to be creative, and she gets ideas from Cake Boss, YouTube and cookbooks. Her favorite pastime is going to a grocery store's baking and cookbook areas.
Kourtesy uses the money she earns from selling cupcakes and desserts to "buy things I need to use for baking. Also, I want to own my own bakery," she said.
Her advice to other young people is "to follow your dreams. If you believe, you can achieve."
Here is one of Kourtesy's favorite recipes.
Kourtesy's yellow cake
1 cup of butter
21/2 cups granulated sugar
11/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
33/4 cups all-purpose flour
21/4 teaspoons baking powder
21/2 teaspoons baking soda
21/2 cups buttermilk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9- by 13-inch pans or line your muffin pans.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time. Stir in the vanilla. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder and baking soda. Beat the flour mixture into the sugar mixture, alternately with the buttermilk.
Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or when a toothpick is inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool before frosting and decorating.