Local bakeries make the cake, and take it too

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Local bakeries make the cake, and take it too

The Southerner

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Sweat Cheats in Cabbagetown offers bakery-goers moist cupcakes piled high with frosting and cruffles, the bakery’s version of traditional cake pops.

BY MEGAN PRENDERGAST

From Inman Park to Decatur, neighborhoods across Atlanta have a variety of sweets to offer the city.

 

The Atlanta Cupcake Factory

 

Located in Poncey-Highland, The Atlanta Cupcake Factory has made a name for itself. Since opening in July of 1997, the bakery has garnered much recognition, including acknowledgement from The Wall Street Journal, Creative Loafing, Southern Living and Atlanta Magazine.

The sudden beginning of the bakery came as a surprise, even to owner Jamie Fahey, a Grady parent.

“I made some cupcakes for a friend of mine’s book club meeting, and there was a writer from Daily Candy [at the meeting],” Fahey said. “They liked them so much they ended up doing a dedicated email blast on it. It launched this business before I had even made up my mind that I was going to have a business.”

The following morning, Fahey’s phone started ringing with orders from places such as Neiman Marcus, Macy’s and The Coca-Cola Company. After those initial high-profile clients, her bakery business took off.

The small retail space is decorated with numerous works of art. The glass display case houses a large selection of cupcakes. Every week the cupcake selection rotates, with a few permanent flavors such as chocolate with chocolate frosting, red velvet with cream-cheese frosting and the bakery’s best selling item, the sugar cookie cupcake with salted caramel frosting.

Fahey thought up the recipe for the sugar cookie salted caramel cupcake while reading a novel.

“They were talking about caramel in one part of [the novel], and then they were talking about sea salt in another,” Fahey said. “I just kind of had this lightbulb moment where I was like ‘I’m going to do that on a cupcake!’”

Fahey’s favorite part of her job is pleasing her customers. Her upbeat, enthusiastic attitude makes her business sucessful and also satisfying. “I really enjoy feeding people!”

 

Rhodes Family Bakery

 

To make ends meet once the Great Depression hit, Magdaline Rhodes began selling her baked goods from home. Within a couple of years, she had made a name for herself; the demand for her cookies and cakes was so great, Rhodes needed a bigger space. She opened up Rhodes Family Bakery’s first location at Piedmont and Monroe in 1934. In 1953 the bakery moved to its current location on Cheshire Bridge Road, where it became the Southeast’s first freestanding bakery. The family opened the bakery’s second location in Roswell in 1997. Throughout its 78-year history, the bakery has stayed within the family.

Brothers George Rhodes III and Thomas Rhodes co-own the Cheshire Bridge location. George Rhodes’ son, George Rhodes IV, owns the Roswell location.

“The thing I enjoy most is I get the chance to work with my dad and uncle every day,” George Rhodes IV said. “It is still a family-owned operation. It is pretty cool to have customers come in that have been with us for 40, 50 or 60 years. [It is] always fun to see little kids’ face light up when they pick up their birthday cakes.”

Rhodes Family Bakery offers a wide selection of cakes, including custom orders such as birthday cakes, wedding cakes, baptism cakes and many more. Rhodes is most known for its caramel cake. The bakery also sells cookies, brownies, Danishes, éclairs and its famous cheese straws.

“We’ve been doing cheese straws for 60 years, way before the supermarkets,” Thomas Rhodes said. “I think it’s just a Southern tradition.”

The Rhodes family commits to providing customers with the highest quality of baked goods available and the highest degree of customer satisfaction.

“People, when they’re eating sweets, are happy,” Thomas Rhodes said with a smile.

 

Cake Café

 

Located on Candler Road, Cake Café caters to cake lovers across the city. Owner and Grady parent Ardra Tippett opened up the bakery in Feb. 2009, and since then, the bakery has created a wide selection of treats outside of its regular product line.

“I definitely have a very open mind about my products, whereas a lot of other bakeries only do what they want [to do],” Tippett said. “People bring me recipes, and I try different recipes for them. I’m really open to trying new things.”

Her two most memorable requests turned out to be successes: a cookies-and-cream cupcake and a Reese’s cupcake.

Their signature and most popular item, the caramel cake, draws customers from all over Atlanta. In addition to typical baked goods, Cake Café offers 165 different flavors of gourmet popcorn, with cheddar being their best-selling flavor.

The vibrant yellow, red and purple building housing Cake Café hosts bakers starting at 4 a.m. The first baker bakes until the shop opens up at 10 a.m. The next baker then comes in and bakes until 4 p.m. Throughout the day, goods are being baked, iced and decorated.

“Being able to employ people and provide a source of revenue for people is very fulfilling for me,” Tippett said.

Tippett believes that giving back to the community is an essential part of being a business owner. Tippett sponsors youth development and high school athletic programs and donates cakes through the Taste of Love Foundation.

“We feel like this is the place where desserts are created,” Tippett exclaimed with a smile on her face.

 

Dough Bakery

 

In the heart of Inman Park sits Dough Bakery, the neighborhood’s very own all-vegan bakery. CFO and baker Laura Nunemaker begins the day’s work at 5 a.m. with breakfast items such as cinnamon rolls, muffins and scones. After the breakfast sweets are done, Nunemaker turns to baking bread; cookies, cakes and special orders are baked throughout the day until about 5 p.m.

Nunemaker, vegan herself, began her baking career at home. Her baking escalated from baking for friends to baking for bake sales and finally for paying customers.

“A city the size of Atlanta should have more vegan options,” Nunemaker said.

Most of Dough’s recipes are originally nonvegan recipes that Nunemaker “veganizes.” At times “veganizing” is a simple substitution, but other times she has to make multiple changes to perfect the recipe.

“We enjoy making vegan food that appeals to vegans and nonvegans alike,” Nunemaker said. “All the owners are vegan. I’m vegan because there’s no need for animals to suffer for me to eat tasty food.”

The bakery’s signature baked good is the whoopee pie, which Nunemaker describes as “cream-filled rounds, perfect for when you can’t decide between cake or a cookie.”

 

Sugar Moon Bakeshop

 

Oakhurst is home to Sugar Moon Bake Shop, a bakery with a mission of “making the world a better place, one cupcake at a time.”

Before opening up the bakery, chief cupcake baker Amy Hutsell Kiefer worked in a nonprofit environment dealing with crime victims.

“Amy would decompress from her stressful job by baking,” chief cupcake marketer Catherine Pfitzer said. “A few years ago I tasted her cupcakes, and I was like ‘These are phenomenal.’”

Once Kiefer and Pfitzer joined forces, Sugar Moon Bakeshop was born. Both of their previous work with nonprofit organizations inspired the Cupcake for a Cause program, in which bakery owners donate a percentage of the their revenue to various nonprofit organizations. To stay close to their roots, the team wanted to incorporate giving back to the community in their business model.

In Pfitzer’s opinion, the moist selection of cupcakes has the perfect ratio of frosting to cake. There is no need to pile on frosting to compensate for a dry cupcake, says Pfitzer. Their signature cupcake, banana pudding, is a crowd favorite.

“You can’t really get it anywhere else,” Catherine Pfitzer said. “There’s actual banana pudding piped into the middle of the cupcake.”

 

Sweat Cheats

 

Located across the street from Cabbagetown Park sits Sweet Cheats. Before owner Shirley Hughes opened up Sweet Cheats, she was a nationally recognized bodybuilder. Mounted on the shelves behind the bakery’s counter are trophies marking her achievements as a National Level Figure Competitor in the NPC. Over the course of her career as a bodybuilder, Hughes would prepare treats for herself; she soon began transforming the flavors of the treats into cupcakes, which she shared with her bodybuilding teammates, the RocStarzz.

Inspired by her competitive background, Hughes named the bakery Sweet Cheats. During her training, a “cheat meal” was incorporated into her diet. Across the glass front door “Sweet Cheats…if you’re going to cheat it better be worth it!” is written in cursive. This phrase comes from her idea that if you’re going to use calories on a “cheat treat,” it should be worth it.

Sweet Cheats opened up in December 2011.

“The reason why we opened was the neighborhood,” Hughes said. “The neighborhood really wanted a coffee shop and a place where people could sit down and have dessert.”

Inside the glass display case, a wide variety of cupcakes and cruffles are offered. The cupcake selection ranges from the Sweet and Sinful cupcake, a strawberry shortcake cheesecake cupcake with strawberry buttercream cheese icing, to Hughes’s favorite item, the Chocolate Dream cupcake, a chocolate chip cookie dough cupcake with buttercream cheese icing. Cruffles is the name Hughes denoted for the cake pops, which is a combination of the words chocolate and truffle.

Despite being surrounded by sweets for most of her day, Hughes maintains a healthy lifestyle. She wants her customers to know that living healthily is crucial, but it is A-okay to cheat every once in awhile.

“I love the actual customers’ response after they taste the cupcakes,” Hughes said. “That’s my favorite part.”

 

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