Westporters have had their cake prayers answered with the recent opening of Michelle Klem's designer cake boutique and bakery storefront CakeSuite. Actually, given CakeSuite's proximity to I-95, pretty much everybody in Fairfield County should be feeling pretty lucky.
CakeSuite opened just before Christmas but launched officially last week with a festive tasting event. Eager to sample the goods at this new sweet shop, we arrived hungry. The retail space is a bright, pristine, white tiled bakery with a glass case filled with trays of cookies and other elegant treats. The work area of this bakery is in full view for all you cooking voyeurs. For this celebration, Michelle had prepared a generous variety of miniatures to taste. Supporters and cake lovers mingled in the bakery, sipping champagne and nibbling on the irresistible cookies and cakes. The tiered trays were piled high, but S. and I managed to taste everything.
Here is the low down: As a chocolate lover, I instinctually reached for the dense chocolate cake with raspberry ganache and strawberry curls. A burst of moist, dense, chocolaty pleasure mingled with its classic partner, raspberry ganache. The strawberry curls on top were a beautiful touch. Next up, we tried the white chiffon cake with passion fruit curd and fresh blueberries. The cake was feather light and perfectly paired with the tropical custard-like filling. We moved on to a golden butter cake with caramel drizzle, buttercream and cocoa nibs. Audible sounds of delight were heard as guests worked their way through the tiered presentation. Everything we tasted was perfectly assembled and as luscious as it was exquisite. Michelle's use of pure and high quality ingredients is evident in the clearly defined flavors. Any gathering or party would be elevated by a presentation of these sumptuous miniatures.
Ready for more, we moved on to the selection of cookies. There were coin size cappuccino discs dipped in dark chocolate, maple pecan discs dipped in a vanilla glaze, and flaky bite sized "Delancey Street" rugelach. The tiny lemon snowballs with lemon glaze and vanilla sugar were literally bursting with infused citrus flavor. I momentarily got lost in a fantasy involving any of these cookies over afternoon tea in the Winter, or with herbal iced tea on the porch in the warmer months.
I'm embarrassed to admit that I only held out for 2 days before returning to CakeSuite to buy a selection for a friend's dinner party. Michelle has ordered another refrigerated case where she will have 6 and 8 " layer cakes available to purchase. They range from $35-$45, and will be either white chiffon with vanilla bean mousse or dense chocolate cake with chocolate ganache. There will also be more cupcakes, large soft cookies and cake bites. Expect to see special items for Valentine's Day or you may consider ordering something unique for your honey for that day.
CAKESUITE's primary business is special occasion cakes. After training at the College of Culinary Arts at Johnson and Wales University, Michelle honed her skills further in NYC as pastry chef at the Plaza Hotel, The Rainbow Room, the NY Hilton, and Medici 56. Her special occasion cakes would enhance any event ranging from welcoming baby, celebrating Bar and Bat Mitzvah, Sweet Sixteen, wedding, or birthday. On her website, Michelle lists 12 cake flavors, 12 fillings (not even including her buttercream options) and 10 add in's. She welcomes the opportunity to accommodate dietary needs including non-dairy, gluten egg or nut free cakes.
Earlier today, a young couple came in to order a cake for a party to celebrate their mother's 80th birthday. They had clearly given this some thought as they knew which flavors they were considering and which flowers their mother might enjoy seeing on the cake. Michelle discussed their ideas and some options with them, all the while sketching in her notebook. She rapidly enhanced their idea, made some suggestions, placed the order for next weekend and they were on their way. I only wish that I could see this chocolate cake with lavender buttercream and sunflowers on a 13" single tier, 3 layered cake. Look for a photo of it in one of the albums Michelle has available in the front of the shop. The photos document a remarkably creative and exciting history of cakes she has baked.
When I asked Michelle to recall her most challenging and entertaining baking story, she told me that she baked a red velvet cake and carved it into a 6 ft. long armadillo to represent the groom's cake at the Broadway opening of Steel Magnolia's. Steely grey colored buttercream frosting sculpted to form the "shell" of the armadillo ? If you can dream it up, Michelle can make it a reality. 500 folks ate that armadillo that evening and you know it was good!
In addition to baking up gorgeous goods, Michelle will be teaching courses for amateurs and professional bakers. E. and I were fortunate to learn about her DECORATING 101 class last Saturday and we jumped right in and attended that eve. Michelle has taught before and she was very organized. She had an individual 6" chocolate cake wrapped, chilled and waiting for each of her students, along with all of the tools we needed and vats of ganache and frosting for us to dig into. Over the course of 2 hours, Michelle taught us how to slice the cake into layers, apply ganache and frosting, handle fondant, and use a wide variety of decorating tips. We all managed with a range of proficiency and Michelle was right there to guide us after demonstrating with her confident and talented hands. Each of us was lucky enough to bring our creations home in a bakery box to our thrilled families.
I am already looking for my next reason to stop back at CakeSuite and pick up a treat while ordering something unique and luscious for someone special.
CakeSuite 47 Saugatuck Ave.Westport 203-557-0247
open M-Sa. 10-5 or by appointment