Article and photos by Craig Chapman| Photography assistant Ian Hunter
Sweet treats go hand in hand with the holiday season, especially Halloween! Most everyone has a deep, dark, secret dessert obsession. Everyone has that one family member who has mastered the art, science, and patience for baking. In the Merrick family, that member is Kim, owner of For The Love Cake Co., “I started my cake company because I’ve always baked for people. It made me happy. But most of all, people absolutely love getting a sweet treat,” she expressed.
When the cake / cupcake trend was booming on the Food Network and shows like Cupcake Wars and Ace of Cakes were all the rage, Kim would watch them constantly. “I just knew I could do what they were doing! One night my husband (Alan) said to me, ‘Do it!’ That very night we went and bought fondant. We had no idea what we were doing but we made a cake together.”
Since then, baking has turned from a hobby in to a true blessing for Kim. Her family needed an additional source of income, but it had to be something she could do from home, “In our family, with three kids, one of which is severely disabled, I believed in my heart that this was the perfect opportunity to follow my passion, work from home, be available to my kiddos and also contribute financially.”
Kim’s love for baking started at an early age, almost by accident, or at least because of her childhood love for baked sweets. She inherited her passion for cooking from her Father. ”We loved to watch cooking shows together. When I was about 27 or so, my father bought me one of Ina’s (Garten) cookbooks and a set of souffléramekins. That was one of the most special gifts to me because I knew he understood how special baking was to me.”
These days business is booming for Kim, so much that she is looking to expand. She’s quickly outgrowing her tiny home kitchen and is starting to look for a commercial kitchen she can use to prep and fill orders on weekends. But even in her current space she’s like a baking magician, able to churn out some of the most creative and delicious cakes and sweet treats in Brevard.
FOR THE LOVE CAKE CO. BAKING TIPS
1.) Use quality ingredients! It really does make a difference in the taste!
2.) Keep it simple. Example: for the Halloween cupcakes today, I made one flavor of cake and one flavor of frosting that created three different styles of cuppys! Just by using Wilton food coloring and simple candies and decorations I created a variety of looks very easily! (for more information on Wilton visit wilton.com)
3.) Most importantly, have fun and don’t be afraid to let your creativity shine through! Remember, even messy and imperfect looking cupcakes can be absolutely delicious!
Made using butter, confectioners sugar, a small amount of Crisco or the like to help hold and set, vanilla and a small amount of water or milk. It is the heaviest and the sweetest of the frostings and most peoples favorite! Good on all cakes.
My favorite! I love the richness! I love the flavor and the pale creamy yellow color… I could eat it with a spoon! Made using cream cheese, confectioners sugar, butter and vanilla (and liquid such as water or milk if needed to thin out). Good on carrot cake and red velvet cake.
Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Egg whites are whipped over a double boiler (or a heat proof bowl over a simmering pot of water) and then whipped in a mixer with a lot of butter and white sugar. This is the smoothest and the least sweet of the frostings and has a satiny finish. Good on wedding or other elegant cakes.
When you need a chocolate or white chocolate shiny frosting, make a ganache. Also using a double boiler, simply melt semi sweet choc chips and then add warmed heavy cream. Whisk all together until smooth. It can be poured over a cake for a natural, artisan looking finish or spread like regular frosting if it is allowed to cool in fridge first.
About the Author
Craig Chapman is the Producer of Real Food Real Kitchens, a food media brand that is all about Family, Food, Culture and History. To learn more about his TV series, magazine, and cookbook, visit realfoodrealkitchens.com.
Family picture from left to right: Morgan, Kim, Blake, and Grayson.