College students all over the country have tried to keep themselves busy during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, whether it be by picking up a new hobby, reading a new book or bingeing all the Marvel Cinematic Universe films. However, Montclair State University junior family science and human development major Alyssa Bussanich decided to start her own baking business to keep herself busy while following one of her passions.
Bussanich started baking at the age of 11 because she watched the show “Cake Boss” on TLC with her family all the time. She loved watching New Jersey’s own Buddy Valastro create his detailed cakes and wanted to make her favorite treats in the kitchen just like he did.
Despite being so young, Bussanich excelled in the kitchen. Her passion began when she successfully baked her first batch of chocolate chip cookies.
Since starting with a basic cookie recipe, Bussanich now has 10 years of practice and experience in the kitchen which has allowed her to attempt and successfully master some very detailed and difficult desserts from America and beyond. This includes her take on the Montclair Bread Company classic, Nutella-stuffed donuts. Bussanich makes all her dough from scratch and fries them one at a time to ensure they are cooked to perfection.
“My proudest creation was when I successfully made the Croatian cookie Lozi,” Bussanich said. “I’m Croatian, so my grandma was able to help teach me how to make them the first time and I was so proud when I made them on my own.”
Bussanich first knew she had a talent for baking when her high school foods teacher constantly complimented her baked goods. Because of the support in her classes, she had the confidence to bake desserts for all her family functions since the age of 15. Since starting her baking journey, Bussanich has considered attending culinary school once she graduates from Montclair State, potentially in a different country.
“If I could go to eat [at] once place, it’d be Paris,” Bussanich said. “I’d love to enjoy a croissant there and maybe learn how to make them myself while I’m there.”
Now, at 21, she has turned her talent into a business of making desserts for different holidays and special occasions.
“I started ‘Baked by Buss’ this past February,” Bussanich said. “I had a lot of family and friends I’d made stuff for telling me I should start selling my desserts and that they’d buy them.”
So far, Bussanich has been successful, completing over 200 orders since she first launched her business. She has gotten nothing but rave reviews.
“It’s been really a really positive response so far,” Bussanich said. “People will come back and tell me ‘You know these are really good’ and then they’ll place a second order. And then the people they’ve shared the desserts with will place an order as well. It feels great.”
At the moment, Bussanich offers a variety of desserts for different types of celebrations and holidays. Her most popular item is her cookie boxes, which include 25 cookies that can be either a choice of M&M chocolate chip cookies, frosted sugar cookies, Nutella shortbread cookies or a combination of them.
“It takes me about an hour to complete one box, through the prep, baking, decorating and boxing of each order,” Bussanich said.
Along with her professional-level cookies, she offers multilayer mega cakes, cake pops and donuts at special request. Her prices range from $20-$50, depending on the type of dessert and quantity one would like to order. All of her products are made to order and can be for any theme or color scheme.
Bussanich conducts all of her business through her Instagram account, @bakedbybuss, where more examples of her products and extraordinary talent can be seen. Due to the pandemic, Bussanich offers contact-free pickup for all of her orders to ensure customer safety. She hopes to continue the success of her business through the summer months ahead and has plans to launch specialty graduation products just in time for commencement.