Photos by Jodi Miller

Here for the Cake

Cake is one of the few foods in our culture that signals “party time.”  Whether it’s at your friend’s wedding, a birthday bash for some unfortunate soul hitting 40, or celebratory party for making it one more day, eating and sharing cake is an important part of our humanity—a moist and buttery acknowledgment of those we care for and share our lives with.

“Baking is a way to say thank you, congratulations, I’m sorry, great job, cheer up, or I love you,” said Laura Harter, owner of Piece of Cake, a small specialty bakery that has been nestled in the heart of the Short North for the past 16 years. She has been baking her entire life, and finally decided to purchase the bakery after growing weary of the world of sales.

When I first entered the shop, several of bakers were vigorously scrambling in the tiny gourmet kitchen—mixing, stirring, whipping, and preparing for yet another busy wedding season, their white aprons and tall hats speckled with flour and colorful frosting. Business is flourishing for Piece of Cake, and it all started with Harter’s passion for baking.

“My love for sweets has always been a part of my life; from my mom’s homemade maple rolls and blackberry pies when I was growing up to my daughter’s birthday cakes and the dozen different types of cookies I baked with love for my family, friends, and neighbors every Christmas.”

As far as specialty cakes go, she has the iconic, triple-tiered, white wedding cake wrapped in bright blue ribbons and spotted with yellow flowers made of frosting. But let’s say you want to get a birthday cake that looks like a sizzling ribeye steak—the brown grill lines made from a chocolate ganache, served with side of whipped buttercream broccoli florets—or perhaps a 3-D Tardis (the big blue telephone box/time-traveling apparatus from the Doctor Who series) towering atop of your chocolate cheesecake. Well, they can do it, and with artistic precision.

Piece of Cake not only hires trained bakers for the shop but decorators who have fine art experience. For Harter, sculpting, painting, and shaping a cake is as much of a calculated culinary process as it is an artistic experience.

“Our bakers’ careful attention to detail is important to get the recipe right, but the creativity of our artists is what takes our cakes to the next level.”

“From gathering and measuring the ingredients to mixing and baking them is a science, and the end result a masterpiece. Our bakers’ careful attention to detail is important to get the recipe right, but the creativity of our artists is what takes our cakes to the next level. We have a great team working together to make every order a special one.”

As a long time member of the Short North community, Piece of Cake has prided itself on collaboration with other local businesses. And really, the spirit of camaraderie and the sense of community is what baking is all about—sharing flavors and ideas with neighbors.

“In Columbus we are fortunate to have so many wonderful locally owned small businesses. From distilleries and breweries to paper stores and florists; we are people living our dream and following our passion,” she said. “The Short North is a great example of many of these businesses located in the same area. All of us working together is beneficial for us as individuals and growing our businesses.”

Community-crafted baked goods are something we can really get behind here at Stock & Barrel. Here are a few examples of delicious creations offered by Piece of Cake an its collaborators: Watershed Bourbon Apple Pie, OYO Spirited cake fillings, North Market Spices Vanilla Bean cake, North Market Spices Curry Chicken Panini, Brother’s Drake Hotshot Voodoo Tart, Blues Creek Farms Sausage Cakes, Zaftig Brewery’s Chocolate Stout Cakes, Zaftig Brewery’s Beer Bacon Brownies and Cherbourg Bakery’s Gluten-free Cakes.

“While our main focus is wedding and specialty cakes, we offer a large variety of cookies, pies, tarts, muffins and sandwiches, all made in-house by our wonderful Piece of Cake team,” she said.

Community flavors, Beer Bacon Brownies, and sushi-boat shaped birthday cakes are all great reasons to love Piece of Cake. But beyond the tasty edibles, it is the bakers who are keeping the wild and crazy cake dream alive. So, the next time you meet a baker give them a big ol’ thank you for making the world continue to taste good.

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Danny Hamen

Insatiable bibliophile. Intrepid journalist. Born to run. Here for the cake.

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