Monday, December 27, 2010

When Art Imitates Cake

A neighbor of the Cake Shop, Camille Cummings, shared this painting with me, and said that she was inspired to paint it by the Sugar Skulls and Day of the Dead festivities at the Cake Shop:

She's having a show at Ananda Hair Studio on Broadway, Downtown, starting on January 3. Thanks, Camille!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Happy Solstice! Here's How to Make a Buche De Noel.

This holiday season in the Cake Shop has been busy, bustling, warm, and cozy! I keep feeling this rush of joy when making new recipes that I haven't perfected before: the Gingerbread People that Lucy figured out, the Sweet Potato Spice Cake making the perfect base for Bread Pudding. But the one thing that has brought me the deepest sense of elation, dare I say, triumph, is our mastering of the Buche De Noel, or Yule Log Cake.
Here follows an illustrated recipe, taken from the beloved Southern Heritage Cakes Cookbook (Oxmoor House, 1983).

Grease and line with parchment paper a quarter sheet pan. (roughly 15 x 10)

To make the cake:
Combine in a mixer and beat until light:

4 eggs
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Slowly add:

3/4 cup sugar

beat again until light.

Fold in by hand:

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cocoa

and then pour into the lined pan. Bake at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes, until the cake springs back when touched with your fingertip or until a knife inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

When its done, it should look like this:

(except smaller, because the Buche De Noel that we make in the shop is double this recipe)

Immediately flip the cake onto a tea towel, a-like-so:

Then peel the paper off like this:

And roll it up like this:

Then set it aside for a few hours to cool completely.

Make a batch of whipped cream:
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
beat with the whisk attachment of your mixer until it can hold a soft peak.

Carefully and gently unroll your cake, and spread the whipped cream all on the inside.

Re-roll the cake, securing the bottom edge, and refrigerate.

Make the icing:

Melt 3 1-oz squares of unsweetened baking chocolate.

Whisk together with 1/3 cup of coffee and 1/4 cup of butter until smooth.

Set the mixture aside to cool. When completely cool, beat (in the mixer) 2-3 cups of powdered sugar until spreadable consistency.

Spread the icing on the roll:

And then cut the edges off with a serrated knife, and attach to the sides by globbing the icing around the joint.

Decorate with fresh holly, from your neighbor Peter's yard, for example, and, voila: (or viola, as we sait it back in Georgia):

A Buche De Noel.

The Yule Log is a symbol of the warmth and light of the hearth in the dark of winter. On this Solstice, as we honor the darkness and welcome the light in our lives, I wish to extend to you love, warmth, and ample fuel for your fire.
PS. If you wish to eat a fresh Buche De Noel, and do not desire to make one on your own, a 20-serving Yule Log is available for $50 by advance order at Short Street Cakes by calling 505-4822. Tomorrow (Wednesday, December 22) is the last day to order a Buche De Noel for pickup on Christmas Eve.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Twelve Days of Christmas at the Cake Shop!

Today was a snow day. I woke up late to the soft, quiet white of snow everywhere. I came into work to fill the orders for today, Hannah and I were in the Cake Shop, and, though Winter Hours dictate that we are open by appointment only on Sunday, I thought it would be fun to go ahead and open the shop, make some cider, and sell some cake and cookies. I sent out an email to the Hall Fletcher Neighborhood email list, telling the folks that we were having a Snow Day Party. We had an awesome response. Families, friends and neighbors came in, one by one, shaking the snow off of their boots, catching up, making things, and drinking cider. It made me really happy. Simultaneously, I've been having a hard time figuring out what to do and say about Christmas at the Cake Shop. As usual, the holidays have crept up with a quickness; I feel a little rushed, I haven't put up decorations, I wasn't sure what specials to run or how to talk about it. But after today, I realized: what we need is a twelve day party at the Cake Shop. We need friends, neighbors, and loved ones to come by, eat cake, and take cake to their friends. I realized that every day until Christmas should be a Snow Day Party at the Cake Shop!
Traditionally, the Twelve Days of Christmas refers to the days between Christmas and Epiphany. Instead, at the Cake Shop, the Twelve Days of Christmas refer to Monday, December 13th through Christmas Eve, when we will be hosting a Christmas Party every day!

Here's what you have to look forward to:

Decorate-Your-Own Gingerbread People!
We are making fresh Gingerbread Cookies every day ($1 per for mini people; $2 per for GingerGentlemen and GingerLadies) and will have a decoration station where you and your family can sit, sip cider, and decorate your people with naturally-colored icings.

And, speaking of cider, we will have fresh, hot, mulled apple cider a la Sally Rhoden on the stove every day (BYO Amaretto). ($1.75 per 12 oz cup).

Christmas Cookies!
Every day, we will be making an assortment of fresh Christmas cookies. Varieties include: Waffle Cookies, Gingerbread, Shortbread, Oatmeal Raisin, and these totally insane little Caramel Pecan Chocolate balls we started making the other day. And probably lots of other stuff we're just going to make up as we go along. Its a party. (please place an advance order for a dozen or more)

No-Advance-Order Cakes!
We had such an overwhelming response to our Cakesgiving Cake Sale. I get it now, people, you want your cake, and you don't want to place an order two days ahead of time. Duly noted. During the Twelve Days of Christmas, we are going to stock the case with as many Medium Sized Italian Cream Cakes, Mexican Chocolate Cakes, and Sweet Potato Spice cakes as we can make. They are yours for the purchasing, while supplies last, for $28, $25, and $28 each, respectively.

Fresh Lemon Curd!
Jars of our Fresh Lemon Curd (made famous as the filling on our lovely Daffodil Cake) will be for sale for $5 each. Lemon Curd makes a gracious and sustainable stocking stuffer or hostess gift. Just sayin.

Bread Pudding!
We are making and selling, by the slice ($3) or by the pan ($25), our ridiculously good Sweet Potato Spice Bread Pudding. Makes a great gift, or a great dessert. (Please place an order for 6 or more slices.) Bourbon Sauce Sold Separately. xo

Special-Order-Only Christmas Menu Items:

Peppermint Candy Cane Chocolate Cake
Our Classic Deep Dark Chocolate Cake, with a Peppermint 7-minute Icing and Crushed Candy Cane topping. Available in all sizes and priced as a deluxe cake on the menu.

Black Forest Cake
Chocolate Cake, Whipped Cream, and Cherries, people. Available in all sizes and priced as a deluxe cake on the menu.

Buche De Noel
The Classic French Yule Log. Nothing says "Solstice" like a cake replica of a piece of wood.

Please know that when you come in the Cake Shop, or you place your special order, you are not only going to have the yummiest treat ever, you are allowing me and the seven other awesome people who work at the Cake Shop to continue doing something that we have, at times, thought was not possible: to go to a job every day where we love each other, love our work, love our customers, and we get the opportunity every day to shine; creatively, personally, and as a community. I'm not exaggerating. We're having that much fun.
Thank you for your love and support.

Other pertinent information:
We will be closed from Christmas Day (Saturday, December 25) through Thursday, December 29th, for Christmas Break.
We will be OPEN Thursday, December 30, and Friday, December 31st, for New Years Eve orders and retail cupcakes.
We will be Closed on New Years Day.
After that, we commence our regular Winter Schedule: Open noon to six Wednesday through Saturday, we are open by appointment/special order only on Sundays and Mondays, and we are closed on Tuesdays.
Seriously, I love y'all.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


Hi Friends!
Cakesgiving was overwhelmingly exhilarating, super fun, and totally exhausting. Thank you so much for all the Cake Shop Love! We had a record day on Wednesday. Here's what our production list looked like:

That's right, we baked over 17 flavors. We kicked ass.
I enjoyed harassing my co-workin' friends at the cake shop, like Nathanael and Anna:

and to top it all off, they put my picture on the cover of the Mountain Xpress!

So I'm feeling a little bit famous, even though the article was about Thanksgiving Turkey, not Cakesgiving or Cake (though there was a mention of Cakesgiving in Small Bites- Thanks, Mackensy and Mountain Xpress!).

We've had a great few weeks since Halloween and Day of the Dead- including two great events at Malaprops Bookstore-
The Local Foods Cook-off Rocked, and, as a judge, I got to eat the winning entry for dinner: a super-yummy all-local veggie quiche!

Then, I was lucky enough to meet (and introduce) Nancie McDermott when she came to town to promote her new book, Southern Pies (which came on the heels of her 2004 release, Southern Cakes- an awesome compendium of traditional cake recipes).

Nancie was delightful and baked a ton of pies for us to taste. So, lots of eating in the bookstore this week. Thanks, Nancie, and Malaprops!

I'm also looking forward to a break:

The Cake Shop will be Closed for Thanksgiving Break until Wednesday, December 1st!

Feel free to call the cake shop at 828.505.4822 and place an order for Wednesday or later on the voice mail; someone will call you back to confirm your order on Tuesday. Okay? Okay.

And once we get all rested up, we'll be ready to tell you all about our Holiday Specials.

So, I'm signing off for a week or so, but before I do, let me just say that this Thanksgiving, I am so grateful for my family, my Cake Shop family, and this beloved community that I feel blessed to be a part of.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Beginning on Sunday at Noon through Thanksgiving Day, Short Street Cakes will be offering four of our best-loved flavors of cake for pick up without an advance order! Seemingly Millions of Medium-Sized (2-layer 8") Mexican Chocolate, Italian Cream Cake, Georgia Hummingbird, and Classic Coconut Cakes will be on hand every day during Thanksgiving Week, and they'll be ON SALE! Our regular menu will be available, at regular prices, with the regular minimum two days notice!

Cakesgiving Hours:
Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, November 21st through 24th, open Noon until 6.
Thanksgiving Day open 10 til 2, while supplies last!

Now, you can have your cake AND forget to order it, too!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Halloween and Day of the Dead... In pictures.

Trick or Treating!

The Altar at Mayfel's.

Lovely Lucy.

The cake we made, with Glo.

The cake we made, with me, with the mask we made with Peter.

Me and Lucy, talking to a dead guy.

And, Finally, as always, Family.

I am grateful for this fall season, for remembering the ancestors, and appreciating this life that we've been given. xo

Friday, October 29, 2010

Sugar Skulls!

Hello Friends!
The preparations for Dia de los Muertos are almost complete!
We've made dozens of sugar skulls:

And whipped up some royal icing, dyed with natural pigments like turmeric and beet powder:

And we've prepared a station for decorating skulls with icing, sequins, and glitter. This is a skull I decorated for my sister, who passed eight years ago. She had a beautiful singing voice, and a great sense of humor, and and I put the skull on the altar in her honor.

The altar is set, and ready for offerings... in Mexican tradition the souls of the dead have to travel a long way to get back to this world, so they are weary, thirsty and hungry. Please bring offerings of food, drink, and treats that your loved ones who've passed enjoyed in this life (I need to go get some candy corn, because that was my friend Charlotte's favorite Halloween treat, cigars for my Papa, Pabst Blue Ribbon for my Granddaddy, and some chocolate for my Mopsey) and pictures, flowers, and other things to beautify the space and honor our ancestors.

Blank sugar skulls are $5 each, and a portion of proceeds will benefit Defensa Comunitaria, a local grassroots immigrants rights organization. We will decorate the altar and sell skulls from noon to six on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. On Monday night, we are going to bring the contents of the altar to add to the one at Mayfels, where we will feast and dance with the dead, in costumes!
I feel so happy to be sharing this celebration with the community at the Cake Shop for the second year in a row, and, already feel how important repeating rituals and celebrations is for rooting ourselves in time and place.
Much love!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Autumn News from Short Street Cakes!

Click here to read our Autumn Newsletter, which is full of useful information such as: Winter Hours, Halloween Cupcakes, Kitchen Space for Rent, and three new books involving Short Street Cakes!

We thank you and we love you.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Bookish Happenings

Well, Hello there! Now that I've completed the writing portion of my forthcoming Cake Ladies book from Lark Books (due out in October 2011), I will have more time and energy to give to my old friend, My Life in Cake. So, without further ado, let me first turn your attention to another project I participated in by the lovely folks at Lark, Craft-In!

Craft-In, by Kathleen McCafferty, is a "box-set of 12 craft booklets featuring all indie crafters. Each booklet features a craft project by a different indie designer, with step-by-step photos, tips, inspiration, and suggestions for your own crafty gatherings. Projects include jar lid masterpieces, natural cupcake makeovers, cruiser hula hoops, sock creatures, crochet cacti, pet portrait embroidery, mint tin worlds, felt strawberries, shrinkable plastic jewelry, terrariums with sheep, retro paper dolls, and culture logs."
Indeed. And guess who wrote the book(let) on cupcakes? That's right, little old me. The Cupcake booklet, with photography by Steve Mann and design by Suzie Millions, features recipes and inspiration for making and decorating all-natural cupcakes.

Craft-In is available now from your local bookseller (like Malaprops, for example, if you are in Asheville) or online.
To celebrate the release of the book, Lark is hosting a Craft-In Book Release Party at Barnes and Noble, by the mall.
Kathleen also made this lovely little video about it:

And can I just get an Amen for Lark? Lark has been employing crafters, artists, writers and thinkers in this town for as long as I have been here, doing their part to make Asheville a place where artists can survive and thrive.
Thank you, Lark, and Thank you, Asheville!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Short Street Cakes + Dripolator = Love!

Hey Friends!
I just wanted to let you know that I will be bringing two dozen cupcakes over to the Dripolator today, thus inaugurating our relationship with Dripolator as the exclusive downtown location for procuring Short Street Cakes Cupcakes! We will be bringing in fresh cupcakes daily, in a variety of flavors, meaning you can enjoy a Short Street Cupcake from 7am to 9pm every day!

Also, don't forget that Short Street Cakes by the slice are available at these fine local Asheville establishments: Marco's Pizzeria, 444 Gallery Cafe, and Carmel's!
Thanks and love!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Happy 5th Birthday, Jasper!

This week, we celebrated Jasper's 5th birthday! We started the day with birthday pancakes:

And made birthday decorations with his friends.

We had birthday dinner:

Consisting of Jasper's preferred menu of cheeseburgers, oatmeal, and "soft carrots with honey." And cake.
The next day, we went to the FAIR!

And had a party, with many of Jasper's besties (and their moms and dads) in attendance.

We had more cake! (Jasper chose Strawberry Cake with a Ganache Topping)

And there were presents (with a definite Star Wars theme).

We rode rides and ate fair food. I was giddy... I love the fair. And this birthday seemed so much to me to be a milestone- for Jasper and for me. I feel like I'm catching my breath and marveling at the beautiful child he has become in just 5 short years. At the same time, I'm marveling at the fact that 5 years seems so LONG- sometimes it feels like just months ago that he was born. In keeping with that theme- that five years is a long time- I'm realizing that the past is over, as much as I keep trying to go back and make sense of the whirlwind of the last couple of decades. I'm ready to make some changes in my life- to get more grounded in the here and now, and to grow my business and my relationships. I feel so psyched about Jasper and the adventures we have ahead of us! And I'm grateful to our family, and family of friends, for giving him such a web of love in which to grow.

So Happy Birthday to the coolest, sweetest, loveliest 5-year-old Jedi Knight in the universe. So much love!