leave your inhibitions at the door
Two of the Pieholes turned eleven yesterday and to celebrate we ordered a cake from Sweet Heather Anne, here in Ann Arbor. I first came across her work this spring when I was looking for a cake for Boom Boom’s birthday party. I first tried Cake Nouveau, which had recently relocated to a block away from our house. It was three weeks from the party and their lead time was significantly longer so they suggested Heather Leavitt, who previously worked there. By coincidence, there was a Groupon that very next day. SOLD!
As background, Cake Nouveau’s Courtney Clark is a local cake designer who’s won multiple challenges on Food Network and other national competitions. Leavitt worked with Cake Nouveau and was on the team that won some of those challenges. Prior to that, she worked with Eve Aranoff at her eponymous (and now-defunct) restaurant. Aranoff herself appeared in a nationally-televised cooking competition – Bravo’s Top Chef – but you may have missed her when you went to the bathroom. That’s about how long she lasted.
Leavitt has an art degree and that artistic talent is evident in her cakes and other creations. When ordering, she consults with you on themes, colors, and interests to make it a truly special and unique cake. For Boom Boom’s birthday, the party was a surprise, so I had some leeway in terms of design. I really loved the look of asymmetrical layers and knew that she’d love the color – Tiffany blue…
For the twins, I wanted them be a part of the ordering/design process. The flavor of the cake – chocolate – was easy enough but I knew the themes were going to be a challenge. Piehole A loves the color green and is passionate about theater and music. Piehole B loves blue and is an excellent swimmer and animal lover. So how do you accommodate two distinct sets of tastes in one cake design? You don’t – you split it in half. I have to admit, the thought of a split cake had me worried but Heather pulled it off beautifully.
When I see the cake competitions on TV, the thought that goes through my mind is whether the cakes are even edible. Both of the birthday cakes we had were excellent – moist, rich, flavorful. I had never had a cake made with fondant – the firm decorative icing used here and on TV. It reminded me of marshmallows, which I’m not usually a fan of. However, it was thin enough and complemented the cake nicely.
Working with fondant is definitely labor intensive, which drives up the price. However she does “regular” cakes in addition to cookies, cupcakes and other dessert items. I’ve had the opportunity to sample these and they are all terrific.
While there are some excellent individual restaurants here and in the whole Detroit area, there’s a lack of a clear food identity. I think I’ve mentioned this before – Chicago is known for pizza, hot dogs, Italian beef and New York is known for pizza, delis, Chinese food. But the only thing that Detroit is known for is being the birthplace of the Coney Dog – which is really just a chili dog. So it’s encouraging that Ann Arbor has two very excellent cake designers. Who knows, may we’ll be known as the cake capital of the world… If we do, you heard it hear first.