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Entries in nevada (2)

Sunday
Oct092011

CakeSpy Undercover: Retro Bakery, Las Vegas

I totally got lucky in Las Vegas.

Am I talking about slot machines? No. No, I am not.

I am talking about the trip I made to Retro Bakery, away from the glitz of the Strip, a buttercream oasis in the Centennial Hills neighborhood.

Now, to say "trip" may not be quite sufficient, because it was more like a Pastry Pilgrimage, involving two bus transfers and about an hour of transit either way (the other alternative was taking a cab, which I was advised would be "well over $50"). But it was so worth it, because once I got there, I was enthusiastically greeted by owner Kari Haskell, who I've known since the beginning of her business over three years ago (read the interview from way back when here!) who is about my height but somehow has about triple the amount of energy...

...and I was also greeted by this amazing spread of cupcakes and cakes and cookies.

Where to start?

Howsabout with a butterscotch cupcake, which I had been informed could "not be missed". I basically made eating this cupcake a race of "how quickly can you get into my belly?". Nobody challenged me to this race, but still, I think I won.

Poor cupcake. It trusted me so much (see picture, top).

and here's what I did to it.

...and then there were the cookies. Oh, the cookies! After eating the better part of a chocolate chip cookie, a white chocolate chip cookie, and a frosted sugar cookie with rainbow sprinkles, I wondered: what would happen if I combined all these cookies to form one super-cookie? What would happen? The answer:

...but don't worry. I was a gracious guest; I left Kari with a bunch of CakeSpy pins and a signed copy of my book!And the rest of the cupcakes I purchased kept me company all through the rest of my journey back to the hotel and then on the flight back to Seattle.

Thank you, Retro Bakery, for making Las Vegas magical!

Retro Bakery, 7785 N. Durango Drive, #130, Las Vegas; online here.

Tuesday
Jul192011

Batter Chatter: Interview with Diane of Dainty Cakes Bakery, Nevada

There are few things I like better than discovering a new bakery. So when I received an email from Diane of Dainty Cakes Bakery in Henderson, Nevada, saying she enjoyed the site and hoped I'd drop by if I happened to find myself in the area, it was my greatest sadness that I couldn't hop a plane and visit that very day.

However, I was able to learn more of the story behind her sweet little bakeshop; let's learn together, shall we?

Since we can't be at your bakery right now (boo!) would you be kind enough to describe: what do you hope people experience when walking in your bakery? We have tried to keep the atmosphere warm and inviting, much like that of a French bakery. Our customers come in and spend a lot of time here, meeting with friends, conducting an interview, or getting a little work done. We try to convey the message that it's not just about the money.

Are you formally trained as a baker? I am not formally trained in baking, but have spent a lot of time studying technique on my own and perfecting the recipes that I have developed. As you may know, Las Vegas is home to a lot of professionally trained chefs. Many have visited our little shop, and return with their families for the breads, or the Red Velvet Cupcakes, etc. I was even asked by one of them to join a Freech Chef's Association. He wasn't discouraged when I informed him that I was neither French, nor a professionall-trained chef. All kidding aside, I spent two years fine-tuning recipes while we were searching for a suitable location.

What made you decide to take the leap into opening a retail bakery? I am a college graduate and worked as an Insurance Adjuster for 25 year. It was a terrible, high-stress field where I dealt on a daily basis with unhappy, dishonest people. Even though it payed well, I grew to hate it! I felt like I needed a change. Baking had always been a way for me to release stress, and something I enjoyed. So, I decided to take the next step.

How did you decide on the bakery's name? We had a pretty good idea for the type of atmosphere we wanted to create for our bakery. Next, we needed a name that reflected that atmoshere ant the type of product we wanted to produce. Initially, we wanted to offer primarily cupcakes. We very soon realized that our clientele wanted a full service bakery, so we gave them what they were asking for. Dainty Cakes was a name that had not been reserved (several have since appeared in other states since our establishment), and was well-suited for cupcakes. Our specialty has become a variety of small dainty 4" cakes ideal for a light desert or small birthday celebration. The name also has an air of elegance.

Do you still enjoy baking at home, or does it seem like "work"? I do most of the baking in our bakery myself, even though I have a small staff. While I still enjoy baking, I do' have a lot of free time for baking at home.

What menu items tend to be most popular during the hot summer months? Our customers love the pastries- Eclairs, Napoleons, Creme Puffs, and our special fruit tarts. Fruit tarts are definitly a favorite! Our signature lemon or our chocolate chip cookies are also very popular.

I was impressed by the number of bundt cakes on your menu; you rarely see them on bakery menus in Seattle. Would you say bundt cakes are popular regionally, or is that a specialty of yours? We are constantly experimenting with our recipes. There are business in the area that sell only bundt cakes, and are very successful. We focus on making the freshest, most flavorful bundt cakes available. Bundt cakes are very popular during the holidays as gifts. We make a lot of them.

What advice might you give people who have dreams of opening a retail bakery one day? This is not a profession for the faint of heart. As with any small business, it is a huge amount of work a bakery business is also very physically challenging- long hours, strenuous work, a very demanding clientele, and a lot of competition. They should make sure that they are willing to make the commitment and stick with it.

What's your personal favorite dessert or baked good? I am not a huge sugar person. I really like the fruit tarts, though- short-bread crust, a light vanilla custard, and topped with fresh colorful seasonal fruit (strawberries, kiwi, raspberries, and blackberries). Not too sweet! We make an 8" version too.

What's next for Dainty Cakes? We really focus on becoming a local favorite without the negativity that comes with competitive atmosphere created by some of the other local bakeries. We feel that our product speaks for itself. The reputation is largely "word-of-mouth" and will follow. We have already enjoyed a surprising amount of notariety. I think we were the only business offering King Cakes for Mardi Gras, and the local media spotlighted our product.

Thank you for looking into our business. We hope that if you are ever in the Las Vegas area you will stop in and see us!!!

For more information, visit daintycakesbakery.com!

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