Remember my Safeway cake debacle?
I had originally posted about it on Facebook, and a lot of people responded to my story – some encouraging me to seek out a python cake (um…never), and others with recommendations of good local bakeries. One of the bakeries recommended multiple times was Pastry Girl, a small, locally owned Portland pastry shop. Laura Widener, the owner and baker at Pastry Girl, has a special place in my heart. Before Laura fulfilled her dream of opening her own shop, she was a stage manager in town. She stage managed a production of King Lear that I did, and I vividly remember her bringing in goodies she had baked to share with the cast. They were incredible. I mean, INCREDIBLE incredible. I would think about the treats she had brought in for DAYS afterwards. One of my favorite cookies I’ve ever eaten was made by Laura – soft ginger sandwich cookies with orange cream filling. The fact that there is absolutely no chocolate involved in that cookie and I still liked it tells you how amazing it was.
I had hesitated to even call Laura to price a cake, because one of the remarkable things she does is beautiful custom decorating, and I was pretty sure I couldn’t afford it. And although she is a friend, she is also a small business owner trying to make ends meet just like the rest of us, and I didn’t feel right asking her for a discount. I want Pastry Girl to succeed, and I want Laura to be paid what she is worth. She also uses fresh local ingredients in all her goods, which means that by supporting her, I am supporting all the local businesses she supports as well. It’s a place I want to put my dollars, but I was also guessing it was going to be way out of my measly budget this year.
But after the outpouring of “Call Pastry Girl!” on Facebook, I thought it wouldn’t hurt to just ask. If it turned out I couldn’t afford it, I would find a less expensive bakery or even try to make one myself, or take my friends Jenni or Kelly up on their kind offers to make Ron a cake (thanks ladies – you have no idea how touched I was by that!). So I sent Laura a message, asking her for a price quote on a two layer 7-8 inch carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. And she responded.
A PENNY more than stupid, incompetent, no custom options and ridiculous customer service Safeway. I placed the order with Pastry Girl.
Laura made the cake very simple and without a lot of decor, since she knew I was trying to stay within my budget, which I appreciated and was totally fine with, since I had a plan to fancy it up a little. For the record, Pastry Girl’s decorated cakes are pretty exceptional – click on the link on Pastry Girl’s site to view cake pictures on Facebook if you’ve never seen them. But a big plus of working with a local small business owner like Laura was her willingness to do less and charge less to meet my needs. You would not be able to negotiate that at a Safeway.
When I got home, I pulled out my decorating supplies and added some colorful sprinkles:
And then opened a bag of plastic animal figures I had found for $2 in the cheap toy section at Fred Meyer:
I placed the jungle beasts around the perimeter of the cake:
And for a final touch, sparkly balloon candles. I love how festive it turned out. I like to think of it as a “party animal” cake.
And like all Laura’s cakes, the taste was DIVINE.
A funny side note to this story – when I picked up the cake, Laura showed me a picture of a snake cake she had just been commissioned to make a for a little girl’s birthday. It wasn’t a python, but it was a VERY real looking garter snake – so real it kind of creeped me out. I don’t think I’ll ever hire Laura to make me a python cake – I think she’d be way too good at it.
*Mom, “FTW” stands for “For The Win”. I am guessing you were wondering.