When I last spoke with Mollie and Kelly Fankhauser, it was for a Cribs profile a couple of years ago. I remember their house in German Village as impeccable and filled with personality-driven pieces of art and furniture. What really stood out, though, was their amazing kitchen – a kitchen big and welcoming, built for laughter and shared repasts. Their infant bakery, Kittie’s Cakes, is much the same. Open and airy, with lovingly curated decor, it’s an open invitation to the community. Both former professional golfers, Mollie and Kelly are genuine in their gratitude for their out-of-the-gate success.
“This is a new chapter for us,” said Mollie. “[Our success] is hard to believe…the most fun is meeting people.” “We’ve found such a sense of community, we have such awesome customers,” echoed Kelly. “And we get to be a part of people’s celebrations, so it’s happy.”
Their mini-muffins are addicting. I’ve had them from the shop, at weddings, and at events all around town.
“Originally we started with this idea of creating the awesome, perfect bite,” said Kelly. “The way we wanted to do it…we wanted to highlight the cake, in a smaller, perfect form.”
Kittie’s Cakes is known for their inventive, and occasionally retro, flavors.
“Mollie develops flavor profiles and I have ideas for the frosting and garnishes,” said Kelly. “We’ll be eating out and try to find a way to take something that is not a dessert and make it into a cake. Like, how to use pretzels in our cakes. That’s the fun part.”
“I’ve made some pretty gross things,” laughed Mollie. “Trying to figure out how we can use Cheetos or Captain Crunch.”
After the cakes are baked, Kelly’s flair for artistry takes over.
“I gravitated towards the icing and garnishing because I love the artistic part of it,” she said. “I appreciate art and enjoy it.”
When comes to finessing icing, Kelly notes that the most important thing is to have the butter at room temperature.
“Also to add the ingredients at the proper time,” she advised. “Each icing is different, so be careful of breaking or separating…you have to keep the butter smooth.”
“Also, vanilla paste is much better,” she said. “The flavor is better and more natural, with vanilla bean specks. We use Nielsen-Massey; you can get it at Williams-Sonoma.”
An extension of their selves, style, and sugary sorcery, Kittie’s Cakes is the ultimate community crib. In the spirit of invention this month, and in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, add a little creative buzz to your confection with a splash of everyone’s favorite pasteurized stout, the dark-and-creamy elixir that is Guinness.
1. In a stand mixer loaded with the paddle attachment, cream eight ounces of room-temperature butter for about 40 seconds at medium/high speed. The butter will go from yellow, to lighter, to whitish. It should be light and smooth.
2. Once the butter is creamed, put the mixer at a low speed, and slowly add three cups of sifted powdered sugar. After the sugar is all in, stop for a moment and scrape the sides down with a spatula. Turn the mixer back on and, once the danger of the sugar flying all over has passed, turn the mixer to medium speed. Keep going until it is super smooth, then scrape it down yet again.
3. Now, on a low speed, add 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt and one tablespoon vanilla extract, or paste if you have it. At this point, you have a basic buttercream frosting to use as a base for wherever your flavor imagination travels.
4. Add three tablespoons of Guinness (or a preferred local stout) with the mixer on low. Stop for a moment and scrape down the sides to make sure all the butter blends into the frosting. Mix again on medium/high, and run for a bit.
5. For the last time, scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix for a minute by hand. Put the bowl back on the mixer stand and mix on high for one minute. The frosting is reading to spread, pipe, or lick off impatient fingers.
6. To accessorize, Kelly likes to roll the sides of the frosted cupcake in chopped chocolate pieces.
Kittie’s Cake is located at 495 S Third St. For more, visit www.kittiescakes.com.