Monday, April 26, 2010

Take Me to Your Cake Lady!

Or: The Official Call-out to Find Southern Cake Ladies.
Or: I'm Writing a Book!

I am very pleased, happy, and proud to announce that, by the forces of serendipity, good luck, and clean living, I have signed a book contract with Lark Books! This summer, I will be researching and writing a book about the lives and recipes of Southern Cake Ladies. This is an idea that has been germinating for quite some time, and there will be more information about it to come, but for now, I will just say that I really do feel that it was a magical alignment of the spheres that led me to this point, aided by the support, advocacy, and general awesomeness of Lark Books in general, and Nicole McConville in particular. I'm very grateful, very honored, and very excited to take on this project, and I vow to put my heart into it, to do my very best to represent the beauty and depth and breadth of what it means to love people in this one particular way.

I need your help.
All my cake ladies live in Georgia.
I need more.

I need names, phone numbers, and directions to the women in the backwaters and big cities of the South who are making cakes for their families and loved ones; the women who hold the culinary secrets passed down to them in deathbed confessions by the matriarchs of their families. I need introductions to the women who brought their recipes to Chicago, Detroit, and New York City when they moved there mid-century to build a better life, and the women who know the history of your hometown because they've made every single birthday cake for sixty years. Rural and urban, young and old, professional and labor-of-love, of every one of the many cultures- Black, White, Latina, rich, poor (you get the picture) that make up the South- I want to meet them, interview them, bake with them. Jasper and I (and hopefully Gracie and Susan) are going to Texas and New Orleans and Alabama and Miami and Virginia, and everywhere in between and beyond. We're going on a soul journey to hang out with Mountain Cake Ladies, Piedmont Cake Ladies, Atlanta Cake Ladies, and Bayou Cake Ladies. I hope to spend some time camping and hanging out in rivers, lakes and streams, too, along the way.

So... I need your help, in two ways.

1) Would anyone like to lend me a camper for this very worthy endeavor? Something like this, perhaps:

Just putting it out there.

2) But very most importantly: take me to your cake ladies! Below find a brief questionnaire. I would be so grateful if you would fill it out and return it to me if you know a special Cake Lady that you think I should meet. Also, please pass the questionnaire along to friends and family who you think might be able to put me in contact with special Cake Ladies. Really, y'all, this is going to be amazing. And don't worry, the Cake Shop will be in very capable and competent hands during the days when I'll be on the road, and I'll be there to bake your wedding cakes on the weekends.

9 comments: said...

congratulations!!!! i don't know the name of the lady but the Croissant d'Or has the best best cakes in New Orleans. the special mardi gras king cake they have and the christmas buche de noel are amazing!!!!! The atmosphere in there is perfect and i'm sure the owner has quite a story!!!

Good Day! said...

best of luck and congratulations on the book deal. I cant wait to read it!

True Faith Farm said...

I make, decorate, and sell cakes locally here in Asheville (well, Swannanoa technically) and would love to be interviewed to help you with your book. However, I am not sure my recipe (which gets RAVE reviews, BTW) is scratch enough; it uses a box mix as a base, but there are quite a few things I add to it. It is a Chocolate Chocolate Chip Pound Cake that came to me from my grandmother (in Hendersonville, still living) who got it from her daughter-in-law who got it from her mother (I think) in Weaverville. So, there are at least 4 southern women who have had many compliments on this recipe. Would it qualify for your research purposes?

Amy :) (who has spoken to you before about cake boxes over the phone, and found out about your book through Avl Mamas!)

Short Street Cakes said...

Thanks so much for your ideas, Amy, but I am sticking to totally scratch. I'm sure your cakes are yummy, though!

cakelady55 said...

I bake cakes, all from scratch. I learned from my mother and grandmother at a very early age. I recently retired from teaching (after 30 years) and I'm baking even more. I've done birthday cakes then wedding cakes and now on to the birthday cakes for babies of former brides. I live in Lincolnton, NC where I often get introduced as "the cake lady." I would love to meet you. We've recently started a book club of retired teachers and we love to read local/regional authors. Good luck on your book!.

pleintexasgirl said...

Hi Jodi, I have printed out your questionaire and will put it in the mail promptly. Born and raised in East Texas and I love to make cakes from scratch. They are recipes that have been handed down and I have seen people fight over the last piece. I would love to share these recipes!

Anonymous said...

What states do you consider "Southern"? There is the South and then there is the Deep South ...

Sage Trifle said...

My Mother, who is 82 and her sister who is 72 live in Opelika, Alabama. Their Mother made some of the most incredible cakes! They were very tall and she made them, from scratch, using a rotary hand mixer! Which I now own. My Aunt, especially, has made some of the recipes over the years, but she is very shy. If you will be in that area, and are interested, I'll ask them if you can talk to them. They will probably say yes.

Short Street Cakes said...

Thank you for all the suggestions! If you don't mind, take a minute to fill out the new questionnaire that Hindsight Bride created for me... it should be simple to use! Thanks, Jodi