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.