Friday, September 18, 2009

cake for lunch

On Wednesday during my lunchbreak I met Mom at Caryn's Cakes on the west side of downtown Atlanta for a fourth and (potentially) final cake tasting. From the get-go, Caryn had a couple of things in her favor: she's a Syracuse alum, she's located just around the corner from our reception venue, and she makes killer ace-of-cakes-style cakes. As soon as we set foot in her bakery, she got a few more points for the display case filled with cupcakes of intriguing flavors.

We were led away from the cupcakes and into the consultation room (sounds awfully stuffy, but that seems like a good name for it), where we perused the company photo albums while we waited for Caryn. She didn't keep us waiting long, though, and we got right down to business.

For the big wedding cake, I'm not looking for anything fancy in terms of decoration. The design I liked best here is a fairly basic one Caryn calls more-to-less dots, seen at right on the second and top tiers of the cake. Next we discussed the groom's cake. I handed over my printout of various and sundry exciting cake ideas (some of which can be seen here) and we decided she would price out four designs for us: a typewriter, a saxophone, a stack of books, and, of course, Idaho. (picture from carynscakes.com)

During this whole process she asked a lot of detail-oriented questions. One the one hand, it was nice to see she liked to focus on the finer points of a design; but on the other, this thing is like eight months away. Have I thought about what color fondant star should mark Jon's hometown on the hypothetical Idaho cake? No. Fortunately none of these variables will have any major effect on the price estimate, so it wasn't a big deal.

Anyway, on to the cake! As I've mentioned before, I'm looking for more interesting flavors than I found at the two exclusively cake-baking places. Caryn has got a long list of flavors and fillings, but when you go to a tasting there she asks you to pick three combinations you'd like to sample. I opted for chocolate butter cake with cookies & cream filling, strawberry cake with cream cheese filling, and spice cake with cream cheese filling. NOM.

Since Jon couldn't make the tasting, we generously set aside
some of our samples for him so he could try them at home


Mom and I both noticed right away how light and delicious the buttercream was. I really liked the cookies & cream filling and thought Jon would too -- I went ahead and assigned that to the groom's cake. The strawberry cake was as potently strawberryish as it was pink, but it tasted a bit artificial -- I'm not sure if it's made with real strawberries or not. The spice cake was really flavorful and tasty, but perhaps too dense and muffin-like in texture... I'm still not sure. I think I needed a bigger piece! Nevertheless, we said (for estimate purposes) that we would have a spice-cake wedding cake with layers alternating cream cheese filling and caramel buttercream filling. Sounds alright, doesn't it?

After our meeting wrapped up, Mom and I didn't even attempt to resist the allure of the cupcakes. What better way to try a wider spectrum of flavors? Mom picked up a ginger-peach cupcake for Dad, a coconut cupcake for herself, a lemon meringue cupcake and a sweet tea cupcake, complete with bendy straw garnish, to round out the bunch. (I think my brother swiped both of the unclaimed ones.) I took home a red velvet cupcake, a carrot cake cupcake, a banana cream pie cupcake (filled with banana custardy awesomeness!) and a chocolate peanut butter cup cupcake for Jon. I'm anti-peanut butter (truth) and I didn't want to waste one of my three tastes on that last one even though Jon had suggested it, so I was quite pleased they had a peanut-butter-buttercream-filled cupcake I could take home for him. After tasting it, he temporarily lost the ability to form sentences. I think he liked it.

So, Caryn's was pretty solid -- but is this Caryn better than Karen at Highland Bakery? It looks like it's Caryn vs. Karen, C-y vs. K-e. Who will emerge victorious? Perhaps the price estimate from Caryn will settle the score...

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