Monday, October 27, 2008

Biggest Wedding EVER!

This weekend was Short Street Cakes' biggest weekend to date. We baked 4 huge cakes for 3 different weddings. All went off without a hitch, and I feel really happy that in the last days of Wedding Season, we created cakes that I feel incredibly proud of.

I like my job.

I get to go places like this:

And do this:

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Lovely Ladies of Short Street Cakes

This weekend is the biggest yet. I know I keep saying that, but its always true, because it keeps getting bigger. Tomorrow I have one wedding, and Sunday I have two, but one is in Winston-Salem. For 350 guests. Vegan.
So I took the bull by the horns, bought a bunch of new tools, pans, and gear, rented Blue Ridge Food Ventures for the weekend, and hired staff. A little planning goes a long way, and today was awesome, and fun, and oh-so-productive.

So here's some pictures from our first day of the biggest wedding weekend of 2008. Notice all the huge ovens. The copious speed racks. The stainless steel tables. The MIXERS.
I covet.
I do.

This is Eileen.

Eileen is a star. Artist, framer, (as in, she frames pictures, she's good at it, you should hire her) mom, grandma, and occasional Short Street Caker, Eileen is my steady when I need a hand. Me and Eileen go way back, to 1997, from back in the Pennsyltucky days. Lucky for me, Eileen moved here about a year before we did. Lucky for me, too, Eileen spent 7 years working for a caterer in Pennsytucky working huge events, including delivering wedding cakes. So when I say steady, I mean, nothing phases her, she's seen it all, she doesn't balk at the craziness of this work. And we get nice and silly together, too, in the way only two people who have been through the odyssey of fear that is delivering 4 wedding cakes in a weekend can.

And here is Ashley:

Today was Ashley's first day. Ashley did a great job and she's just about as cute as a damn button. She was really excited about baking, about working with the big mixers, and about wearing the cat apron her mom made her. Ashley's a songwriter and a musician. I haven't heard any of her music yet but I bet when I do she'll be my favorite and I will be telling y'all all about it. And best of all: Ashley lives on Short Street! (And because Ashley couldn't work tomorrow, there's ANOTHER resident of Short Street coming to work with us, and I totally didn't plan it that way! Short Street Cakes, indeed.)

And then, of course, there is moi.

Your cake lady, the one who keeps you in sugar, the one who loves you the best.

I'll be in touch about how the biggest wedding weekend of 2008 goes.

Friday, October 17, 2008

now, you, too can bake my award losing pie. by Elyse Manning

Elyse Manning is my friend and the oft-mentioned spiritual and baking adviser for My Life in Cake, and today, she's our guest blogger! Please enjoy her tale of triumph and pain in pie-making:

elyse's deeply underappreciated irish cream pie

preheat oven to 350

1 cup sugar
2 tbls corn starch
pinch of salt

mix all this together in a small saucepan and set aside, now take

4 egg yolks (seperate the whites and put them aside for merengue)
2 1/2 cups whole milk

mix them together, then dump em in the saucepan with sugar mixture and cook over medium heat at first mix it every minute or so to break up lumps, but after about 5 minutes you wanna mix it constantly to keep the bottom from burning. when it starts getting thicker, add

2 tbls butter
4 tbls irish cream liquor (i used baily's, but please, don't be a label queen, anything good will do)

leave on heat for another 45 seconds or so, then pull off heat for 30 seconds then put on heat again for another minute, stirring all the while, fun! pour immediatley into a pre-baked pie crust, and cover with plastic wrap to keep the filling piping hot while you make the

4 (or more if your feeling fiesty) egg whites
pinch of salt
pinch of cream of tartar (if you don't have it, don't stress, it just helps the process along a bit)

whip up at "high speed" and slowly add
1/4 cup powdered sugar
beat it still it forms fairly stiff peaks (eh-hem), then take the plasic wrap off the pie, spread the merengue on, make it look pretty, cause it will hold it's shape, and bake it for about 10 minutes or so, keep a good eye on it, and pull it out when it gets all pretty and golden-tipped.

Now, honestly, here's where i messed up y'all, you SHOULD let it cool completely on a rack, then put it in the fridge for at least 2 hrs to chill and set. you SHOULD NOT stay up too late in the s.m.s. kitchen waiting for some sorry-ass game of wizards to never start, drag your ass out of bed at 7:30, make the pie, then stick it in the freezer to make up for your lack of cooling time, then dress like a total witch with bright red hair and bring your wobbly-ass pie to some small town fair, past the guys in the prison jumpsuits doing community service who are laughing at YOU for being a freak and give your pie to some pinch faced ole biddy who is looking at you like you maybe put some wierd drugs in it.
don't do that.... i tried it already and we see where that got me

good luck.

Friday, October 10, 2008


Or: How I learned to stop worrying about how the world is going to hell in a handbasket and love cake.

As I was sitting on my porch at the end of a long day, I began checking down my usual mental list of bakery to-dos: find a space, hire staff, figure out payroll, coordinate the rest of the fall weddings, make changes to the menu, work on spreadsheets, design the space, go to the bank, et cetera ad infinatum, when I was struck by a realization.

I've come so far, and I'm so incredibly grateful.

Two and a half years ago I was a new mom with no job. My husband was struggling to make ends meet while going to school and being a dad. We had a mounting pile of debt and no idea how to deal with it. I spent much of the last two years wondering how we were going to make ends meet, and dealing with a seemingly never-ending series of minor personal and financial crises, while laying the foundation for Short Street Cakes and being a full-time mom. I've spent a great deal of time since my son was born asking for things from the universe: stability, clarity, patience, a way forward, a sustainable way to stay here in Asheville and maintain a home and a family and not go crazy in the process. And tonight, I find myself in the same spot, asking for more things from the universe: a home for my bakery that's not my house, more stability, more clarity, more patience, a way to continue forward. And these things are noble goals. But right now, tonight, I'm going to stop asking, and instead I'm going to say "Thank You." Thank you to the Universe/God/Big Mama for providing me with that stability, and clarity, and patience for these last years, (and, you know, forever). Thank you to the friends and family who love me, and listen to me, and reach out to me, even when I'm swirling in chaos. Thank you to Duncan, my best friend. Thank you to Jasper, my wish upon a star. Thank you to Lexi, the best Best Girl ever. Thank you to Asheville, for being my home for these seven years and nurturing my growth, my family, and my craft. Thanks to all y'all beautiful people who keep buying my cakes!!!! Thanks to Mom and Dad, and Marcos, and summer camp, and ACRC, and to yoga, and Grace Leigh, and Elyse Manning, and the witches, and Emma Goldman and Alan Ginsberg. The reality, right now, is this: I'm making a living as a self-employed cake baker. I'm creating work that is meaningful to my customers, and so gratifying to me. I'm learning every day, the kind of learning that's exciting and makes you hungry for more. I'm home with my son a few days out of the week, and I get a break a few days a week when he goes to preschool. He's freaking HAPPY. Duncan has a new-ish job that makes him happy, too. The stability, and clarity, and patience (well, I'm still working on the patience) that I've wished for has been steadily growing in my life for these years. I'm doing this thing!!! And I am so incredibly grateful.

Like, Really. Really. Grateful.

I've been listening to NPR and Naomi Wolf YouTube videos all day, and, as predicted, global capitalism is crumbling and the world is in a food, climate, economic, spiritual, and all-purpose general everything crisis. As usual, the leadership of the United States is behaving badly. People are on edge, and the tipping point seems near. In the coming weirdness, and it seems pretty certain that the weirdness is coming, there will be more human suffering. I hope to be a part of helping to lessen the suffering in some way, whatever that may be. But I also feel that the coming weirdness is just a part of history's ebb and flow, and I want to stay grounded, here and now, in what is real. We're going to survive these changes, whatever they are. Who knows, we might be better for them in the long run, if we fight for what we believe in, stay grounded in who we are, and remember to help each other out.

I have alot of big ideas for my life in cake (the life, not just the blog), for Short Street Cakes and the future of our lives here in Asheville. I want a busy, happy cake shop. I want to run a small business that contributes generously and justly to the world. I want us to travel with Jasper and show him the vastness of the world. I want to go back to SUMMER CAMP. I want to swim and learn martial arts and quit smoking and have a garden again and coordinate activist campaigns and do all the things that I haven't done much of in years because, well, cake. And I will do those things, eventually- but I'm not going to worry about them tonight. Because- as excited as I am for what my life in cake can become- tonight, I'm just grateful for what it is.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

More Weddings Comin' Atcha

AKA fall wedding season is kicking my ass... or am I the one doing the ass-kicking? Hmm.

And that last one is not actually leaning. I was just too sleep deprived to hold the camera upright.