How this Northeastern grad took her cake-making business from her off-campus apartment to ‘Saturday Night Live’
Morgan Knight started baking cakes as a side hustle between classes at Northeastern but thanks to TikTok, her picturesque creations took off, enabling her to take her business full time.
Even if you’re not on TikTok or Instagram, there’s a chance you recognize Morgan Knight’s cakes from TV.
Knight, a lifelong baking hobbyist, began making cakes as a side gig, while studying at Northeastern University. Her creations gained traction once she started posting them on social media. People fell in love with her whimsical works, from a cake inspired by the cover of a Phoebe Bridgers album or a vegan confection topped with 3-D frogs and mushrooms.
Among her fans? The team at “Saturday Night Live,” who hired her to create cakes for pop star Olivia Rodrigo’s recent performance on the show, a notable feat for Knight who took her business, Saint Street Cakes, full time only a few months ago.
Professional baking was not originally in the cards for Knight. She graduated from Northeastern with a bachelor’s degree in political science in 2022 and did a co-op at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York that turned into her first full-time job after graduating. But during the spring 2021 semester, she was looking for a way to earn money that didn’t require much exposure to the public during COVID-19.
Around this time, Knight made a cake for a socially distanced celebration of her roommate’s 21st birthday. She decorated the vanilla cake with elaborate pink frosting and topped it with strawberries and white-and-rose colored macaroons. She posted a photo of the cake on Instagram and got flooded with requests from followers for more.
With this, Saint Street Cakes came to be (named for the street where Knight’s off-campus apartment was located). Her business grew on social media; she now has over 9,000 followers on Instagram and over 88,000 on TikTok. Some of her videos on the latter platform have over a million views.
The original Saint Street cake Knight made for her roommate turned into her signature style, which leans heavily on intricate icing designs and pastel color palettes. She describes her aesthetic as a twist on the Lambeth style of using icing to create layers of design.
“I used to look through my mom’s old Wilton cookbooks, which have a lot of old cakes and vintage-looking baked goods,” she said. “I mix that older style with funkier aspects. I try to take the classic Lambeth style and put a twist on it.”
The cakes Knight made for SNL fully embodied this aesthetic. Designed for Rodrigo to destroy during a performance on the Dec. 9 episode, Knight made two cakes meant to embody the feminine stereotypes Rodrigo mocks in her song. One cake was covered in berry red frosting with white and pink frosting while the other heart-shaped creation was topped with cherries and had “sweet girl” written on it in icing.
While only two cakes appeared on the show, Knight ended up having to make about 20 cakes in total between test runs, the rehearsal, and the final show. Rodrigo stuck a knife in one cake while graphically smashing the other, which meant that while both cakes had to look darling on the outside, they needed to vary internally.
“The recipes were entirely different from my normal cakes because texturally they had to be different,” Knight said. “It got to be a really fun experiment in entertainment work with food, which is an entirely different kind of genre.”
It got to be a really fun experiment in entertainment work with food, which is an entirely different kind of genre.
Morgan Knight, a Northeastern graduate and lifelong baking hobbyist
The cake that was stabbed needed to be able to hold a knife upright, so Knight overcooked it and added more flour, along with a thick buttercream frosting that would support the blade. The second cake was for smashing and smearing, so Knight had to find a way to make the frosting stick and for the cake to visibly ooze when Rodrigo dug in. Finding the perfect recipe to create this was akin to “chemistry,” as Knight put it.
“I reverse engineered a gelatin whipped cream that could stand under stage lights, but could also stick to someone as well as making a really, really moist cake and then soaking that in simple syrup,” she said. “They’re two different cakes and it was really fun to explore the different textures. … I thought it was so much fun, especially (for a song) that’s all about feminine rage. Destroying something kind of traditionally feminine looking that I made was so cool.”
It’s an impressive feat, but more so when one considers that Knight is self-taught. She became enchanted with the idea of baking at 3 years old, wanting to make fantastical confections like the kind she saw in cartoons like “Sleeping Beauty.” But other than a cake decorating class she took at age 9, she’s never had any formal training.
Instead, Knight’s education has been more traditional. In addition to majoring in political science at Northeastern, she had three minors: law and public policy; women, gender and sexuality studies; and Jewish studies. When she graduated in 2022, she was torn between opening a bakery and going to law school.
“I love, love school,” Knight said. “I think that was something really hard to kind of remove myself from in going forward with baking full time. I so enjoyed my time at Northeastern. I was a TA. I took as many classes as possible. There was never a single summer that I wasn’t fully booked for classes.”
After graduating, Knight opted to go back to work at the U.S. attorney’s office in southern New York, continuing to run Saint Street Cakes on the side. The demand for her cakes remained high, to the point where Knight was rejecting multiple orders a week. In September 2023, she took the plunge and left the U.S. attorney’s office and began running Saint Street full time. She now sells her signature cakes from anywhere from $150 to $250, depending on the size, filling and flavor.
Though her schedule has gone from working 40 hours a week to closer to 80, Knight’s enjoyed the pivot. She’s starting to rent a commercial kitchen to allow for more space than her apartment has to offer and hopes to open a brick-and-mortar location of Saint Street within the next year.
“It’s felt really empowering,” she said. “My life feels super fruitful. Being able to interact with my clients more has been a lot of fun. … (I’m) able to pour my heart into something that’s entirely my own. It’s been really, really rewarding.”