Let ’em eat cake: Chapter 1

I am a pie afficianado and not heavily into the cake scene. Cake is so, well, cakey.

However…

On the Saturday after Black Friday, the Sigelmans trooped off to White Flint Mall, our shopping venue of choice because it is always semi-deserted, as it proved to be that day. We entered the mall through the housewares department at Bloomingdale’s. Seeking help from a sales person, I approached a formidable-looking woman and inquired as to whether she was working or shopping. Neither, she said. She was cooking. Cooking what, I asked. She said Cake. What’s that you have there in those boxes, I asked. She said Cake. Isn’t it cheating, I asked, to bring cake when you’re supposed to be cooking cake? You try my cake and you won’t think it’s cheating, she said. What kind of cake, I asked. Well, she said, there’s the Million Dollar Cake, and with that she opened a box and showed me the best looking cake I have ever beheld. Here it is:

coconutpecanpoundcake.jpg

Wow, I said. That is some cake. The Formidable Cake Lady nodded and said, You know what it’s made with, don’t you. Yes, of course, I replied. With love. She nodded, and smiled.

I have some other cakes here, she said. This one is a carrot cake. My heart skipped a beat. Several beats. I love carrot cake. (It isn’t cakey. It’s heavy and gooey and way too sweet, which is a hard concept for me to wrap my mind around.) She saw the look in my eyes. You all come back in about an hour and try some, she said. But first pick up this box with the carrot cake. Pick it up, I asked. Yes, but be careful. I picked up the box with the carrot cake. It was very heavy. How much does this cake weigh, I asked. Eleven pounds, she answered. An eleven-pound carrot cake. Think of that. Eleven pounds.

We shopped. Usually this makes me impatient and I try to escape as soon as possible. However, this time I made no move to leave. I wanted to make sure that we’d be there long enough for some cake.

I succeeded.

Back in Bloomingdale’s, the Formidable Cake Lady said, You all came back. You’re darned right I did, I replied. Well, she said, turning to her Equally Formidable Assistant, let’s give him a nice sample of the carrot cake.

Here is what the eleven-pound carrot cake looked llike:

carrotcake.jpg

Here is what it tasted like:

So good I can’t even describe how good it tasted.

How much do you charge for a cake, I asked. $65 for the Million Dollar coconut pecan cake, she said. I gulped. And how about the carrot cake? Oh, that’s $75.

$75 for a carrot cake. An eleven-pound carrot cake.

Showing unprecedented self-restraint, I did not purchase a cake. But it’s been on my mind. A lot.

The Formidable Cake Lady, whose name turns out to be Karen Roberts, runs a shop out on Bladensburg Road in Northeast DC named KarenKay’s, Here is a link to her homepage. I’m planning to drop by sometime soon to visit her cakes. If you’re in the area and like cake, you should, too.

5 Responses to Let ’em eat cake: Chapter 1

  1. jsalvati December 1, 2008 at 3:38 pm #

    This is some quality writing. I feel like it belongs in “The Best American Non-Required Reading”, which is an amazing series, by the way.

  2. LFC December 1, 2008 at 10:39 pm #

    So she has an arrangement with Bloomingdale’s — they let her sell her cakes there? Or was she selling the cakes under the table, so to speak?

  3. Lee Sigelman December 2, 2008 at 9:55 am #

    js: Thanks. And thanks for the pointer to that series, which I hadn’t been aware of.

    LFC: Yes, she had an arrangement with Bloomie’s. She wasn’t a squatter.

  4. LFJ December 4, 2008 at 11:58 am #

    Karen was invited to Bloomingdale’s by the culinary director who coordinates demonstrations and events in the Housewares Department. Demonstrations are typically held Th-Su, and guest chefs are invited for special events and sales. To find out about other events, visit http://www.bloomingdales.com. If you know any other great chefs in the MD-DC-VA area, contact her at Bloomingdale’s…laverne.franklin-jones@bloomingdales.com

  5. Karen Roberts December 5, 2008 at 1:45 pm #

    Thank you so much Professor Sigelman for your comments. I enjoyed reading your story about your visit to Bloomingdale’s and my cakes.

    It was great! I wanted to read more. I am so happy that you enjoyed my cake made with Love. I will see you soon. I told you…