Meet Claudia

A couple of weeks ago I introduced you to Heather, with promises to introduce you to the rest of the team.  (By the way the team consists of Heather, Claudia, and myself.)  Claudia is a cake designer extraordinaire with an eye for detail.  I asked Claudia some probing questions thinking that I would write about how awesome she is and fill in the blanks with some fun facts.  Turns out Claudia’s answers are just as awesome as she is, and I decided to do a direct cut and paste instead, and let Claudia tell you about herself in her own words…Boutique Cake Studio. Ann Arbor

I studied Cultural Anthropology in college {at the University of Michigan}.  Coming from a small town, it really opened up my understanding of how different people perceive the world.
I was raised with an appreciation for home cooked food.  A love of food is something that my mom and dad shared when they were falling in love, and it was always a part of their home. I can remember making pancakes with my dad sometime before I could read.  At some point when I was still really young, I memorized the recipe and could make them by myself.  I was very strong willed.
Claudia Kimble baking
The first recipes I made as an adult were baked goods that had sentimental value to me,  like my mom’s peppermint frosting and my grandma’s date pinwheel cookies.  Baked goods are especially wonderful this way, because we eat them on holidays and birthdays and at special times of the year.  They seem to conjure up years past and are more potent and delicious because of it.  It’s also a craft that women have carried on, for the most part, and that’s pretty badass.
My favorite S{weet}H{eather}A{nne} cake flavor is the Citrus Almond.  I think it’s one of the most creative, and it has the most meaning for Heather.  However, when chocolate with chocolate ganache and chocolate buttercream makes it on our menu, that will be my favorite.   I’m really excited for some of the more adventurous flavors we are working on for the summer.  I love floral and bitter flavors, so I’m pumped that we’ve been throwing around using ingredients like fresh garden lavender, basil, and candied fruit.  Maybe fennel will make it in one as an homage to you, Rachel.
Boutiqe Cake Studio. Ann Arbor
The first, more selfish reason I like cake decorating is that I love geeking out on an artistic task and being left alone to be as meticulous as I want about it.   When I find my flow zone, I can transcend space and time.  It’s wild.
The second reason that I love cake decorating is the WOW factor.  Cakes, the giant sculpted kind, are one of the most frivolous luxury items I can think of right now, and it’s so fun to see people’s reactions.   I love the moment I pipe the final rhinestone on the sculpted jean booty, and I’m like, “WOW, that looks like a booty in some jeans.  Suzy Q is going to freak out!”  Or when the little sugar dog I made really does look like Johnny’s favorite boyhood beagle.  I think that stuff is hilarious.
If I could go anywhere tomorrow, I might stay at home all day.  I love being home.  I love my housemates.  I have so many projects that I could never work again and be busy every day.  I would cook, sew, screenprint, work on my bike…  THEN I would get on my bike and ride all around Ypsi.  I would get Ugly Mug and Beezy’s and Bona Sera (It’s a very long day).  I would ride to my friend Jen’s house and make her come out to play with me.  At the end of my day at home, I would totally jam with my house band!  It’s comprised of anybody that happens to be in our house at the time (“If you’re in the house, you’re in the band.”)  We call ourselves Alpha Uterus.  We’re the best worst band you’ve never heard of.
Because we have Sundays and Mondays off, I consider Sunday my Saturday and Monday my Sunday.  On Monday (my Sunday), my favorite thing to do is sleep in.  I love sleeping.  There’s an lcd soundsystem song, “I’m Never as Tired as When I’m Waking Up.”  That’s how I feel every time I wake up.   Once I’ve committed myself to the new day, my favorite thing to do is make some Ugly Mug coffee, pour-over style, and do the Monday New York Times crossword.  See how I worked it so that on my Sunday I can finish the crossword?  It’s good in my world.
Many thanks to Abby Rose Photo for the beautiful images of Claudia.
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Sweet Heather Anne Cooks Breakfast

We had the pleasure of chefing at SELMA cafe this past Friday.  For those of you not in the Ann Arbor area SELMA is a weekly local foods breakfast salon, celebrating Michigan’s bounty and the community by which the bounty is both fueled and supported.  Every week local food professionals (supported by loads of other volunteers from all walks of life) volunteer their time and skills to create a delicious breakfast for the community.

If you have never been, I highly recommend it.  The joy and energy surrounding this weekly ritual are inspiring.  It is testimony to the strength of the community that it keeps happening, every week, and has only been growing stronger.

Creating a delicious local foods breakfast during winter in Michigan is not an easy feat.  But we managed, much thanks to Zingerman’s Creamery and the Brinery.  The menu included a spicy potato hash (with greens, sausage, and Brinery kimchi topped with a fried egg and a side of toast) and a potato, kale, and bacon tart (with Zingerman’s Creamery Great Lakes Cheshire and Lincoln Log cheeses and a side of hoop house greens). For dessert we served Sweet Heather Anne Cookies: Mexican shortbread and chewy chocolate molasses (a personal favorite).

Sweet Heather Anne Cusotm Cake Boutique Ann Arbor MISweet Heather Anne Custom Cake Boutique in Ann Arbor MISweet Heather Anne a custom cake boutique in Ann Arbor MI

Meet Heather

I thought it might be nice to take some time to introduce you to the Sweet Heather Anne team.  I’m going to a blog entry about all three of us, but we will start with Heather since she is the owner and namesake of the business.  She also is going to be doing a Culinary U workshop at What’s Cooking Detroit this coming Saturday (March 2nd), so if you like what you hear you can check her out there–be sure to ask her about her love of spoons.   Carla HallMichelle BommaritoJohn Somerville of Lark, and many others will also be there.

Heather’s love for cake design stems from an education in art, a passion for food, and a childlike refusal to believe that there isn’t anything she cannot create.  While attending the University of Michigan School of Art and Design, she packed up her paintbrushes to study abroad in Florence. Though she had hoped that immersing herself in the realm of the Italian masters would rub off on her artistic prowess, she found herself more interested in the perfect foam atop my cappuccino.

Upon returning to the States, her new-found passion for food seeped into her art making. For my art school thesis, I dedicated myself to forming the same connection to food in Michigan that I had experienced in Italy. After working with food producers and artisans in the Ann Arbor area, she created a series of edible monuments to honor each one.

Before opening Sweet Heather Anne, she took time to carefully refine my craft: developing and refining her palate with Eve Aronoff at eve the restaurant and braving the Food Network’s Last Cake Standing as an assistant to Courtney Clark of Cake Nouveau.  As owner and cake designer at Sweet Heather Anne,  she loves what she does, and looks at each new cake as a challenge to create something beautiful that will make your day extraordinary.

Glimpse into the Sweet Heather Anne kitchen, and check out Heather in action: hand-painting a cake topper, decorating cookies, and making royal icing.

at work

Heather at work

Heather at Work

Warm Up with Sweet Heather Anne Classes

I know I’ve written previously about my dislike of winter.  This year I’ve been making a more conscious effort to take a positive view of the biting cold and dark nights.  For one, it is a great excuse for sleeping in and staying at home.  I’ve been busily crossing items off my long to-do list, including remodeling my bathroom.  Winter, I’ve decided, is a time to focus on what’s important.

Here at Sweet Heather Anne winter means less large special event cakes which frees up some of our time for fun classes.  This winter we have some great classes scheduled.  The classes offer anyone interested in beautiful and tasty desserts to come, learn new techniques, and take home some tips from the pros.  This year’s class schedule covers a variety of cake and cookie decorating techniques, including all of the techniques pictured below.  Sweet Heather Anne

Cake Classe at Sweet Heather AnneSweet Heather Anne Cookie ClassCake Class at Sweet Heather Anne

For more information on how to learn any of these fabulous decorating techniques visit our web site or give us ring at 734.913.2025.  Private classes also make great birthday and bachelorette parties, as well as showers. We are looking forward to seeing your smiling face in one of our classes.

Love is Cake (and other Sweet Heather Anne treats too)

Finding the perfect gift for someone can be quite the challenge.  A great gift can say “I understand and love you for who you are” more effectively than words.  As a fellow gift-giver the thing I dread most is that the gift I hunted for ends up collecting dust in the pile of things for Goodwill.

Fear not brave gift-giver, Sweet Heather Anne has a slew of holiday treats so tasty there’s no way they’ll make it to the Goodwill pile.

In the month of December the dessert counter will be chock full of cookie boxes packaged for giving.  Each box features an assortment of cookies: our signature decorated cookies, gilded chocolate stars, Mexican shortbread and chewy chocolate molasses (a personal favorite of which I could wax poetic, but I will spare you).

made by Sweet Heather Annemade by Sweet Heather AnneOur very own Claudia Kimble designed that gorgeous tag herself in our mint and gold holiday color scheme. And the best part?  We can ship these adorable packages anywhere in the United States.

Only for the month of December we are making gingerbread cake.  The studio smelled so delicious as we recipe-tested that we became obsessed before even tasting it.  This new flavor features Bell’s porter, two types of ginger and incredible depth of flavor.  Paired with our smooth and creamy vanilla swiss buttercream (made with Calder butter!) this gingerbread cake is the quintessential holiday cake.   It is available at the dessert counter in cake in a jar, or for pre-order in our gorgeous gilded snowflake layer cake.  We offer the gilded snowflake cake in either 6-inch or 9-inch, perfect sizes for any holiday party.

cake by Sweet Heather Anne

Our holiday macarons are pistachio and chai spice.  And yes, they taste as good, better actually, than they look in the photo.  made by Sweet Heather Anne

Sweet Heather Anne classes and gift certificates also make great gifts, and to make things even easier for you, we are extending our dessert counter hours.  December 6th through 22nd we will be open Thursdays and Fridays 10-6 and Saturdays 9-2.   Because who doesn’t want their gifts to say, “I understand and love your need for delicious food”?

Many thanks to Abby Rose Photo for the gorgeous cookie photos (as always).

Love is Cake (and other Sweet Heather Anne treats too)

Finding the perfect gift for someone can be quite the challenge.  A great gift can say “I understand and love you for who you are” more effectively than words.  As a fellow gift-giver the thing I dread most is that the gift I hunted for ends up collecting dust in the pile of things for Goodwill.

Fear not brave gift-giver, Sweet Heather Anne has a slew of holiday treats so tasty there’s no way they’ll make it to the Goodwill pile.

In the month of December the dessert counter will be chock full of cookie boxes packaged for giving.  Each box features an assortment of cookies: our signature decorated cookies, gilded chocolate stars, Mexican shortbread and chewy chocolate molasses (a personal favorite of which I could wax poetic, but I will spare you).

made by Sweet Heather Annemade by Sweet Heather AnneOur very own Claudia Kimble designed that gorgeous tag herself in our mint and gold holiday color scheme. And the best part?  We can ship these adorable packages anywhere in the United States.

Only for the month of December we are making gingerbread cake.  The studio smelled so delicious as we recipe-tested that we became obsessed before even tasting it.  This new flavor features Bell’s porter, two types of ginger and incredible depth of flavor.  Paired with our smooth and creamy vanilla swiss buttercream (made with Calder butter!) this gingerbread cake is the quintessential holiday cake.   It is available at the dessert counter in cake in a jar, or for pre-order in our gorgeous gilded snowflake layer cake.  We offer the gilded snowflake cake in either 6-inch or 9-inch, perfect sizes for any holiday party.

cake by Sweet Heather Anne

Our holiday macarons are pistachio and chai spice.  And yes, they taste as good, better actually, than they look in the photo.  made by Sweet Heather Anne

Sweet Heather Anne classes and gift certificates also make great gifts, and to make things even easier for you, we are extending our dessert counter hours.  December 6th through 22nd we will be open Thursdays and Fridays 10-6 and Saturdays 9-2.   Because who doesn’t want their gifts to say, “I understand and love your need for delicious food”?

Many thanks to Abby Rose Photo for the gorgeous cookie photos (as always).

Food For Thought

Sweet Heather Anne Cake Ann Arbor Gallery Project

So, in the studio, we listen to a lot of NPR.  Like, a lot a lot.  Like, every day…  And we can only listen for so long before were are talking amongst ourselves.  Again and again, we talk about is Americans’ general relationships to food, and how much attitudes could change for people to be more healthy and systems be more sustainable.

Sweet Heather Anne Cake Ann Arbor Gallery ProjectIn the brainstorming process, we kept coming back to distorted food costs as a reflection of all the hard work that goes into getting food to the consumer.  As Americans, we certainly expect food to be affordable, but we are also far enough removed from the supply chain that it can be difficult to understand why food should sometimes cost more.   This is not a very rosy subject.  But we DO have a rosy outlook!  We are hopeful!  We know that information is power!Sweet Heather Anne Cake Ann Arbor Gallery Project

What we really wanted to do was to make a cake (or series of cakes) honored one person who touched each ingredient on it’s way to becoming our cake.  We knew we wanted to make the pumpkin cake… The recipe is relatively straightforward, and it highlights beautiful seasonal fruit from Tantre Farm.   We hadn’t quite solved the design problem though, as it needed to be done in a matter of weeks, not months.  Hm.  We simplified our idea, and translated it to what we do best… building one GIANT cake.  Heather chose to make it a contemporary version of the cake on our business card (love it!) and to use one large tier to diagram it’s ingredient history.  We love the final product, and we hope you do too… It’s on display at the Gallery Project through December 11.Sweet Heather Anne Cake Ann Arbor Gallery Project

Not only did we get to make a beautiful cake, but the three of us had an evening off to hang out together!  Most importantly, being around other artists, not just bakers, allows us to continue to be inspired.  We had a lovely evening of conversation, bumping into old friends, and making new ones.  The exhibit spilled out into the street with our friends Phillis and Joel at The Lunch Room. (mmmm slaw!)  Sweet Heather Anne Cake Ann Arbor Gallery ProjectThe three of us took advantage of the beautiful night and ended the night with a cocktail and some pickled tomatoes at our favorite new evening spot, Mani Osteria.  It was a lovely break after a very busy week.

Sweet Heather Anne Cake Ann Arbor Gallery Project I have to admit, it felt a little productive, too.  We bumped into some potential holiday cookie clients!  We were able to have a little toast to the future of the business..  All in all, how sweet.

Sweet Heather Anne Cake Ann Arbor Gallery Project