Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Christmas Eve!

Friends, we've had such a lovely time this holiday season creating beautiful cakes for Winter celebrations- I feel like we have branched out into new territory with our traditional icings (like the peppermint 7 Minute icing) and classical flavor pairings (like sweet potato and ginger), while continuing to draw our inspiration from Southern home cooks and bakers who have made loving hospitality a goal and have used the "common" art of food to elevate themselves and their loved ones creatively. I've had lots of highlights this Christmas Season:
Like Elyse Manning, my NOLA BFF, coming to work with me in the cake shop and helping to make the Buche de Noel:

(this was the first version; the second one was made by Nathanael, representing a branching out for him from customer service superstar to Cake Artist)
This Buche de Noel, or traditional French Yule Log, was eventually procured by a one Ms. Heather Rayburn, Cake Fan. Not to be outdone by her BFF Ada, who has been spotted making eyes at pies with moustaches (long story), here's Heather lovin' on the Buche:

As we know, Solstice is a time of celebrating the return of the sun, light, and warmth. The Yule Log became a symbol of this light- and the feast of Christmas lasted as long as the Yule Log burned. The Buche de Noel became a symbol of the yule log, and an end to the season of darkness, which was marked by celebrations like Dias De Los Muertos, Halloween, and the end-of-season harvest celebrations of late fall. Also, it's totally delicious: a spongy genoise (my first), soaked in rum, rolled with whipped cream, and iced with a chocolate buttercream icing with bark-y markings.
And that was just yesterday. Today we made about eighty million Chocolate Peppermint Candy Cane Cakes with Seven Minute Icing, a-like so:

But, the most exciting things that have happened to me this month involve narrowly escaping Snowpocalypse 09 and heading south to Georgia for an early family Christmas. My grandmother lives in a nursing home in Marietta, GA. My mom, being the super-cool lady that she is, goes there about once a week with her guitar to lead sing-alongs with the residents. Jasper and I arrived in Marietta early enough on Friday to tag along:

I also went to Alabama with Lexi and attended the funeral of Woodrow Wilkerson, her grandfather, who I knew to be a kind, loving, and altogether sane and happy man. It was a beautiful homecoming and a beautiful tribute and I was grateful to be there. Oh, and I brought some of the cake:

And we got a family portrait, just in time for Lexi to leave the South to begin her new job as a gorgeous accountant in Chicago:

Hanging out with my family, feeling the love of my mom and dad, laughing with my siblings, eating copious amounts of my mom's cooking, and watching Jasper continue to get to know his people made me feel truly connected.
I'm grateful.
Alright: Now that I'm done being sappy and Christmas is almost over, its time for us to start planning for Mardi Gras- and yall know what that means, right? The first anniversary of the opening of the Cake Shop! I've got two words for all y'all: KING CAKE. You heard me. But, first, to business: we will be open by appointment between now and January 6th. Please allow plenty of (at least 3 days) notice as we will be attempting laziness.
Much Love, and Merry Christmas! I've got to go make a turkey.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Cake Shop Christmas Window Display!

A few weeks ago, I called my friend David Alexander to commission him to do a Christmas window display for the Cake Shop. I remembered his over-the-top, Tokyo-Teen-Dream holiday decorations for Marcos when we both used to work there, and thought he could pull something cute together for the Cake Shop. Something simple, I said. Vintage-y. I said. Christmas-y. no big deal.
To my surprise and delight, he and Christopher showed up on Monday with boxes of homemade fabric cupcakes (made by David and his mom), a child-sized mannequin with a cake for a head, vintage candy canes, wrapped christmas presents, vintage ornaments, garlands, a wreath with homemade felt cupcakes, and an aluminum Christmas tree with color wheels.
Here's my way-longer-than-it-needs-to-be-because-I'm-so-excited Photo Essay. Also, any tips on how to enter the WABA Christmas Window Display contest without actually being a member of WABA- or having paid to be a part of "Shop West Asheville"- would be greatly appreciated.
David, thank you so much for letting your beautiful holiday vision shine. Friends, come by and see us, and vote for us for your favorite Holiday Window Display in West Asheville! xo

Much love.

PS- It's even cooler up close and personal.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Holiday Cake Menu and Specials!

Friends, we are going all out this year for the holidays! Below find out all you need to know to order your holiday cakes and pies from now through New Year's. Here are the special cake flavors we are offering in addition to our regular cake menu: (unless otherwise indicated, all cakes are available in the same sizes and prices as the regular menu items)

PEPPERMINT CANDY CANE CAKE: A Chocolate Mint Cake with Seven Minute Icing and natural candy cane garnish.
BLACK FOREST CAKE: Dark Chocolate, Whipped Cream, and Natural Sweet Cherries.
SWEET POTATO SPICE CAKE: Rich, buttery Spice Cake flecked with creamy baked sweet potato and iced with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Icing.
FRESH COCONUT CAKE: Fresh Coconut Butter Cake with Seven Minute Icing and Fresh Coconut Garnish.
One-Size-Only Cakes:
BUCHE DE NOEL: The traditional French Yule Log- featuring a Chocolate Roulade filled with Whipped Cream and iced with Chocolate Buttercream Icing. $38.
PINEAPPLE UPSIDE DOWN CAKE: Skillet-Baked 9-inch Brown Sugar, Pineapple Butter Cake with Pecans and Pineapple Rings: $22
FLOURLESS CHOCOLATE GATEAU: Single-Layer, 8" Rich, Mousse-Like Chocolate Cake with Ganache Topping: $22

Got a hankerin' for something else? Let us know and we will try to work it out. As usual, cupcakes, coffee, slices of cake and pie, and (if you are lucky) a whole cake or two are available during shop hours for purchase without an advance order. We have also added mini loaf-shaped pound cakes to our case offerings: right now we have excellent Cinnamon Walnut Pound Cakes for $5 each.

As you may know, Pies from local pie company Pies in Disguise are now available at Short Street Cakes! And from now through Christmas, we are giving a 10% discount to advance orders of Pie AND Cake totalling over $50.

Pie flavors available:
Apple, caramel apple crunch, pumpkin, pumpkin chocolate truffle, pecan, derby, sweet potato, maple walnut, pear, nutella strawberry with pretzel crust, chocolate stout, key lime, banana cream, honey lavender!
$22 for a 9-inch pie

The Fine Print:

Thanksgiving: Cake and Pie orders must be in by Sunday, November 22. We will stay open on Tuesday, November 24th and Wednesday, November 25th, from Noon until 6pm for pickup, and will be closed on Thursday, November 25th, and Friday, November 26th.

Christmas/Solstice Cake and Pie orders must be in by Sunday, December 20. We will be open the Tuesday before Christmas for Pickup. We will be open on Christmas Eve from Noon until 4pm for pickup. We will be closed for Winter Break from December 24th through January 6th. New Years Eve cakes will be available by special order only. And starting in January, we are launching our new winter hours: Closed Monday and Tuesday. Because we think everybody deserves a two day weekend, even cake ladies! We're just Mom and Pop like that.

OK, y'all, you've got all the info, now just give a call (505-4822) and get your old-school cakes and pies for your holiday celebrations! We love you and thank you for supporting local, artisan bakers and cake shop community.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Cake Loves Pie: Introducing Pies in Disguise at Short Street Cakes.

Now that beach season, wedding season, and death season are over, its time for: Pie Season! On Wednesday, we began a new venture: serving as the retail outlet for pies from Asheville-newbie-pie-bakers Pies in Disguise. We feel confident that these local bakers (who also happen to rent our kitchen for production from time to time) are creating pies of the same caliber and with the same sense of righteous traditionalism as we do our cakes. You can learn more about Eliza and Ben here, but in the meantime, I'll tell you about the deal at the Cake Shop.
(and here's a photo of Cake Shop fan Ada Volkmer, admiring her purchase of a Pecan Pie from Pies in Disguise)

Much like our cakes, most pies from Pies in Disguise will be available by special order. Also like our cakes, the pies require two days' notice. And, also like our cakes, we will keep one or two in the case at all times so that you can buy a slice and enjoy it with your fresh cake shop coffee or cider. (more on the cider later.)
Here are the flavors you have to choose from:
Caramel Apple Crunch
Pumpkin Chocolate Truffle
Derby (bourbon/pecan/chocolate)
Sweet Potato
Maple Walnut
Nutella Strawberry Madness
Chocolate Stout
Key Lime
Banana Cream/Vanilla Wafer Crust
Honey Lavender!
Here's how you order: Call the cake shop, specify your preferred pie flavor and quantity, and pick up at the cake shop on the designated day, during our business hours (12-6, Wednesday through Monday). Its just that easy.
Whole pies are $22, slices are $3.95.
But, he most important aspect of this whole pie situation can be summed up in one word:
You can now have your Thanksgiving cake and your Thanksgiving pies, too! AND, because we love you, we're throwing in a discount to sweeten the deal: 10% off all simultaneous orders of Cake AND Pie totaling over $50 during the month of November! That means: one large cake and one pie for thanksgiving = 10% off.
Your friends will be impressed! Your enemies will be chagrined!
Get your holiday desserts from Short Street Cakes!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Halloween and Dias De Los Muertos: Pictures!

First, there was Halloween. We had a rockin' day at the cake shop, and Jenne, as per usual, went above and beyond by creating, of her own volition, these Halloween themed cupcakes:

They're totally awesome, but even more awesome when you consider that, as an all-natural bakery, we never use food coloring, fondant, or shortening. It limits greatly the materials we have to work with when doing designs, but makes the designs we do so much more lovely (and tasty!)
Then there was trick-or-treating:

Jasper was a robot, Duncan was a daddy robot. Genius costume element: the plastic bucket as a helmet, which conveniently kept my little robot's head dry all through the soggy, cold, night.

Then, there was Dia De Los Muertos.

Folks stopped by all day on Sunday to make sugar skulls, see the altar, and (hopefully) reflect on the meaning of a day to honor, remember, and visit with those who have passed. One (sorta country) fella came in, he had never heard of us, but had seen a show on the History Channel about the sugar skulls. He went looking in Asheville for where to find them, and found us. He bought some to take home with him, and he said that it reminded him of Decoration Day in church, and that that meant something to him. It got me thinking that we have these rituals in every culture, because we have a spiritual need for them.

We also raised an amazing 317 dollars for Latino Immigrant's Rights Organization Defensa Comunitaria! Dias De Los Muertos: Activism + Cake + Celebration = Love.

Amy Kett, of Crankypants Knits, posted on her blog this picture of her memere on the altar:

She says: "Yesterday Henry and I went on down to Short Street Cakes and painted sugar skulls for Los Dias de los Muertos. Henry ate a triple chocolate ganache cupcake bigger than his head while I thought about my Memere and painted a sugar skull in her honor and put her picture up on the altar. If you are in Asheville...stop by and paint a skull, have some cake and blow my Memere a kiss."


And, with the season of death coming to a close, and without further ado, We now officially declare the beginning of:

The Holiday Season!
It's ON.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Dias De Los Muertos at Short Street Cakes!

On Sunday, November 1st, and Monday, November 2, we will be celebrating Los Dias De Los Muertos at the Cake Shop! Come by and help us build an altar to loved ones who have passed, and give them a chance to enjoy our offerings and blessings! We will be selling blank sugar skulls, have a decoration station where you can decorate your sugar skulls, and then take them home, or leave them on our altar! In addition, Short Street Cakes will be hosting an altar built by local immigrant rights organization Defensa Communitaria. Sugar skulls will be $5 and proceeds from the sale of the sugar skulls will benefit Defensa Communitaria. In addition, November 1 and 2 are the grand opening days for our new next-door neighbors, Bury Me Naturally and Farm Girl Flowers! And, of course, we'll have cake. And Sally Rhoden's Mulled Cider, Oh, and there's going to be a Flotilla Parade down the French Broad River! xo

Sugar Skulls with Suzie Millions!

According to Waverly Fitzgerald, author of the excellent and thorough seasonal holiday website School of the Seasons, (and many books) November 1st, or All Saints Day, is celebrated differently in many different parts of the world. From the School of the Seasons:
All the gods of the world were worshipped on this day from sunrise to sunset, goes an Irish saying. [Kightly] The Celtic Coligny calendar designates these three nights as the end of summer (which begins on Beltane, May 1st), the time when flocks are moved to the winter pastures, the beginning of the dark half of the year. The time of the last harvest, of apples and nuts, which are used for divination. The dead are honored with offerings of food: soul cakes in England, fava beans in Italy. In Mexico, offerings include bread, fruit, sweets, wax candles, flowers, liquors, cigarettes, mole, pulque, tamales. The candles burning in pumpkins, gourds or turnips light the way for the dead to return.

The Catholic feast day of All Saints was celebrated on the Sunday after Pentecost, until 609 or 610, when Pope Boniface dedicated the Pantheon to Saint Mary and martyrs on May 18th and that became the new date. This is interesting as there are other feasts of the dead in May, including the Roman Lemuria (May 9) and Memorial Day was long associated with the dead also. The date of November 1st was established in the eighth and ninth centuries.

The Irish and Scotch call this date Samhain and Samhuin and honor the dead by lighting bonfires. This is seen as the start of the dark half of the year, and since the Celts began their days at dusk, it is thus the start of the new year. In Ireland, this day is known as the feast of Moingfhionn, a demoness whose name means Whitehair, perhaps a representative of the coming winter and the old age of the year.

I wanted to learn more about the Day of the Dead traditions of Mexico, in order to incorporate those traditions into our celebrations at the Cake Shop. (Our new neighbors Bury Me Naturally and Farm Girl are having their grand opening on November 1st and 2nd- fitting opening days for a casket shop- and Short Street Cakes will be hosting a Dia De Los Muertos altar created by local immigrants rights organization Defensa Communitaria. more on both of these happenings in subsequent blog posts).

I asked local artist, author, and craft queen Suzie Millions to teach me how to make the skulls. She graciously invited me to her Tingle Alley studio to learn the craft.
Our Gracious Host:

What you will need:
Sugar skull molds. Available at
6 Tablespoons water.
Postcard size pieces of cardboard, lots of them.
5 pounds of white sugar.
1/4 cup of meringue powder. (I know, this is not my typical from-scratch recipe. The saving grace is that sugar skulls are not for eating, so it doesn't really matter that Meringue powder is made with a bunch of synthetic chemicals, right? OK, OK, by next year I will have figured out how to do these with fresh, organic, local egg whites and organic, unbleached sugar. Also by next year: Dead Bread?)

OK, here's what you do:

In a large bowl, mix the sugar and the meringue powder.
Add the water, and knead by hand, until "every grain of sugar is coated." This will have the consistency of really nice beach sand, and is probably wonderfully exfoliating for your hands (if you're into that sort of thing).

Pack the sugar tightly into your mold.

Scrape off the excess from the back of the mold, and then turn the sugar skull over onto a piece of cardboard. Leave out to dry for a day before decorating, ah like so:

Now, decorate!
Uh, we haven't quite gotten to that part yet- you can come learn with me on Sunday at the Cake Shop- but here are Suzie's finished sugar skulls for sale at LOFT downtown:

After that, Jasper, Duncan and I made a batch for ourselves at the cake shop.

On Sunday, November 1st, at the Cake Shop, we'll be decorating these sugar skulls and making an altar to honor our loved ones who have passed. Come celebrate and learn with us!

This Weekend In Cake.

On Friday, October 30, Short Street Cakes will be present at the following THREE events!

1) Birthday Party for Sugar Momma's Cookies!

I like a bakery that does one thing, and one thing only, and does it really well. That's what we strive for at Short Street Cakes, and its what Sugar Momma's has been doing consistently for four years now! (We can add to that list newcomers Pies in Disguise, but more on them later) Join Sugar Mommas as they celebrate four years as Asheville's best cookie shop, where they will be celebrating with, (what else?) a cake. Go wish them a Happy Birthday at 13 Broadway from 4-6pm.

2) Adorn Crosses the Lexington!

At 8:00pm Adorn Salon and Boutique hosts their Grand Soiree! Meet at the old location (82B N.Lexington Ave) for the Jazz Funeral procession to the new space at 58 College Street! Costume contest, food (cake), drinks, door prizes, music by "The Asheville Gentlemen" and artwork by Alli Good. Congratulations, Rebecca, Rose, Andrew, Circe, and the rest of the Adorn Crew! Love yall.

And then, there's:

See my previous post for more information.

Then, of course, there's Halloween. There's a Cover Band show. There's a Graveyard Book Party at Malaprops. There might be another Family Carnival at the Wedge, though I couldn't find any info on that. I'll be trick or treating on Montford with Jasper, who will be a robot again this year. What are your plans?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Blogapalooza 2009!

With such a whirlwind of activity going on this month, its hard to keep track. But, as usual, there ain't nothin' to it but to do it- so thusly begins my flurry of blog posts relating to local community happenings, events, celebrations, and other excitements that make the world go round.
#1: Blogapalooza (or otherwise known as Spookyblogapaloozananny)!
From the Mountain Xpress ballot page:
"The 2009 Spookyblogapaloozananny is Asheville's annual gathering to celebrate area bloggers, tweeters and social media junkies.
Now in its fourth year, the event formerly centered on bloggers has been expanded to include Twitter, Facebook and other social media outlets.
The Oct 30 event is a benefit for the AHOPE. Last year, it raised $1,000 for the homeless shelter. With a $10 suggested donation, all proceeds with go to AHOPE.
It will feature music by Elephant and Albatross Party and entertainment by jugglers 40 Fingers and a Missing Tooth.
Winners in this year's balloting will be honored at Spookyblogapaloozananny, where everyone is invited to come and celebrate. The party will be held from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. at the Pump Gallery in the Phil Mechanic Building in the River Arts District.
Need suggestions for blogs to vote for? Check out Blog Asheville's blog roll."

Click here to vote; and don't forget to check your email for the validation link.

Here are my pics for Blogapalooza:
Best Food Blog: (Duh) My Life in Cake
Best Craft Blog: Crankypants
Best Writing: Hangover Journals
Best Overall: My Life in Cake
Blogger I'd Most Like to Have a Beer With: Zen
Best Art/Photos: Art Seen Asheville
Best Local Happenings: BlogAsheville
Best Political: Where's the Outrage?
Best Mommy Blogger: Edgy Mama
Most Inspirational: Small Measure
Best New Blog: Pollinate Asheville

Oh yeah, and then there's all that actual voting. Tuesday, November 3 is the Asheville City General Election. Three seats for City Council are up for grabs among six (or seven- depending on how you look at it) candidates, and Bellamy is running for re-election for Mayor. Politics are politics and "everybody knows that the dice are loaded," but still, local politics are the most direct way to make an impact on the political system. Vote, but don't just vote. Here's a link to a guide to the candidates.
Dearly Beloved,
Thank you for voting our little cake shop into the top 3 best bakeries in Mountain Xpress' Best of WNC.
We love you, too.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

More Weddings!

And... we got a record player at the shop! Come by and bring vinyl, hang out, drink coffee and eat cupcakes. we love it when you do that.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Happy Birthday, Lexi!

This is Lexi.
She's my best friend.
Friday was her Birthday!

I'm lucky that Lexi is my best friend.
Lexi, on the other hand, is lucky that I'm a cake baker. Lexi really, really likes cake. Lexi and I have been best friends since the third grade.

(Me and lex are the two girls in the middle. Please note the perm- it was intended to make me look like Little Orphan Annie. Big fan.)

And here's lex and I during the very glamorous 9th grade, I believe. Please note the heavy metal homemade denim jacket on Lexi.

And here's Lexi, enjoying her custom birthday cake: Marble Cake with Maple Sweetened Cream Cheese Icing and Toasted Pecans.
I love you, Lexi! Thank you for always being there for me, and thank you for being you. Happy Happy Birthday!