The following special feature has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times” magazine “HER magazine” Holiday 2020 edition. By: Blaise Doubman
A Magical Escape with Gwendolyn and The Cake Bake Shop
I have always admired entrepreneurs who have basically started from scratch to make their dreams come true. Gwendolyn Rogers is the shining example of what it means and what it takes, to become not only an entrepreneur but to become a successful one. I started chatting with Gwendolyn online, though Facebook, years ago, not long after she opened “The Cake Bake Shop”, her first location, in Broadripple. Immediately I could tell that she was sweet, passionate, caring and understood what it meant to run and operate not just a business, which she was still currently building from the ground up, but a brand. I personally was still trying to juggle the ins and outs of trying to start my own brand, Blaise the Baker, from the ground up so I had plenty of questions for her. She was kind enough to take time from her busy life and busy schedule, to not only answer my questions but to give me tips and tricks along the way. Our conversations became more informative and more supportive over the years and it suddenly hit me that not only had I made a business connection, but I had developed a friendship.
My family and I would visit her Broadripple location every time we possibly could. It became “our place” to get away from our troubles, celebrate special occasions and to take our friends and family. The staff was kind, caring and welcoming; something that has not changed in the years that we have been going. When you first walk into The Cake Bake Shop, you are automatically transported into a real-life Fairy Tale. There are flowers everywhere, chandeliers, French inspired decorations, soft lighting, classical music and calming, majestic colors. There are numerous well-earned awards that line the walls as well as pictures of Gwendolyn with every celebrity imaginable. There are autographed pictures of Ina Garten, Elton John, Paula Deen, Oprah and numerous sports stars. And let us not forget the smell and sights of cakes, cookies, brownies and pies all freshly baking! The Broadripple location holds a special place in my heart because it is there where I have so many memories of my family and I celebrating special events over their delicious desserts and drinks. It is there where I had my first piece of cotton candy cake. It is also there where I tried my first chocolate chip cookie dough cake, a favorite still to this day, that I came home and developed my own “copycat” recipe for, which some day I will share with everyone. It is the best combination of cookie dough and fresh cake!
I did not think The Cake Bake shop could get any better but skip ahead to the opening of Gwendolyn’s second location in Carmel. I was not sure what to expect, I mean I knew it would be fabulous, but I wondered if since it was a bigger location the Fairy Tale feeling would somewhat be lost in the size of things. I was so wrong! Her location in Carmel is even more opulent, Fairy Tale like, charming and elegant than even the Broadripple location! I was blown away by the attention to detail, the lighting, the food, the flooring, the interior and exterior fixtures. It was like a French architects’ dream come true! When my family and I first made the reservations, I was secretly hoping that Gwendolyn would be there so I could talk to her in person and congratulate her on all her accomplishments. I was so excited to go!
My parents, Darla and Jamie, went with me, along with my Aunt, my Mom’s sister Myra Dye and Myra’s daughter Jacqueline. We dressed up, talked all about it all the way there and had our breath taken away as soon as we seen the outside of the newest Cake Bake Shop. We posed for pictures, posted on our social media and just admired what was soon to be, one of our favorite local spots. We were posing for more pictures and checking out the water art fountain in front of the new location when we seen her walking around the outside patio area. It was Gwendolyn Rogers herself! We all went flying inside to meet her. When we got inside, we talked with her assistant first, who encouraged us to come on in and visit with her awhile. As soon as she seen me, she recognized me. The initial meeting was a blur to me. I remember her saying I was so cute and that she loved talking with me and even offered me a job! My family and I all posed for pictures with her and chatted a little bit longer. It was like a dream.
After I got home from our magical experience, I decided to write a “CHEW THIS!” column based around our experience and share a recipe that I had been inspired to create from the visit. It was printed in “The Courier-Times” and I absolutely loved it. I sent a copy to my Aunt Myra and we all reminisced about that day again. I then got to talking to my friend and mentor, Donna Cronk, about it and she suggested I send a copy to Gwendolyn herself and maybe I could be featured on her “wall of celebrities”? I thought it was an awesome idea but honestly did not really hold out much hope because I am not a “celebrity” number one and number two I just did not think it would be possible due to the tremendous amount of mail Gwendolyn gets on a daily basis. I was not even sure she would receive it! But I took a leap of faith, sent out the column to her via both of her Cake Bake Shop locations and hoped for the best.
A couple of months later I received a message from Gwendolyn! She thanked me for the beautiful heartfelt column and said she would like to feature it in her new Carmel location! I still remember where and when I was when I opened that email! Ha! I may or may not have screamed! I told my family, called my Aunt and then emailed Donna Cronk. It had worked! My column was going to be featured in her new Carmel location! I was, and still am, so incredibly thankful and grateful for the opportunity. It still all seems like such a dream to me.
Cut to a few months later, when both of my Grandma’s passed away within 10 days of each other. I spoke to Gwendolyn about it, who shared with me some words of wisdom she lives by since the passing of her Mom. We shared in each other’s grief and I mentioned to her that my family and I were planning on coming in soon, to “get away” from things for a while. We agreed to meet up again and planned another magical adventure experience. Our magical adventure experience was cancelled because of Covid-19. Gwendolyn, of course, followed State procedures and closed her doors for a while. I wished her the best and promised her that we would meet up again, if at all possible, in the near future. The weeks that followed were, along with everyone else in the World, troubling and full of anxiety and depression. The uncertainly hung in the air like a bad thick fog. I had never felt like that in my life, other than after the terrorist attacks on 9/11. Everyone was struggling, everyone was scared, and no one had answers. A Global Pandemic shut down everything and everyone in its terrible tracks.
A few months later, I got a message from Gwendolyn and it was like a spark of hope, a ray of positivity shining though the bad thick fog. She said that my beautiful column was on its way back from being professionally framed in France and that she would have it hung up in her new shop soon and that she could not wait to see me! I thanked her profusely and still could not believe it! Then, a couple weeks later she sent a picture of my framed column hanging in her shop! I remember where I was for that message too! Ha! I jumped for joy and could not believe it! With so much pain and hurting in the world, it just goes to show that sometimes you can still find joy and happiness in some of the most unexpected places. My column looked so nice and so important enclosed by a thick professional frame from France! It was gorgeous.
My family and I made a trip to the Carmel location to see my column and it was just as magical as we had hoped. We all posed for a picture with it and I nearly cried from thankfulness. My column will forever be a part of Gwendolyn and her Cake Bake Shop. That is incredible. I have always admired and respected Gwendolyn but since really getting to know her over the years, getting to know her values, her core beliefs and her strong work ethics, I may have to say she is quite possibly one of the strongest, smartest, more talented women I have ever known. Her story is not mine to tell but I would highly recommend searching her profile in Indianapolis Monthly and giving it a read. Gwendolyn has literally made her dreams come true and that is something to not only be celebrated but something to be cherished and admired for everyone.
My life has been full of talented, successful women, most of who are entrepreneurs believe it or not! My Grandma Barbra worked for years at Good’s Candies in Kennard, dipping and selling chocolates. She got a behind the scenes look at how to run a business and years later helped me with some of my ventures into online bakery selling. My Grandma Deloris owned and operated the Kennard Brotherhood and Sisterhood, a life insurance company, for most of her adult life. I remember growing up and watching her balance the books, write checks and deal with the public daily with home visits and telephone calls. My Mom, Darla, sold her own handmade jewelry for years and knew what it took to run a successful business with not only repeat customers but happy customers that would want to buy from her again! My friend and mentor, Donna Cronk, who has helped me tremendously with the complicated business of self-publishing my own works. Not a lot of people realize that when you decide to self-publish you are essentially becoming your own business! There have been, and are, so many beautifully talented women in my life and I am beyond thankful for everything they have taught me and continue to teach me; not just about myself but also about others. For that, I am thankful.
If you would like to experience the magic of The Cake Bake Shop, you will need to visit their website for reservations. They have two locations. The original location is in Broadripple Village at 6515 Carrollton Avenue in Indianapolis. The new location is located at 799 Hanover Place Suite 260 in Carmel. Both locations are equally fabulous and offer more than just delicious sweet treats such as cookies, cakes, brownies and pies. Both locations also offer savory menu items like scrumptious salads, soups, sandwiches and even hamburger and fries! For any and all questions, including parties and special requests and orders please call 317-257-CAKE.
I am sharing two new recipes here with everyone that have been inspired by my visits to The Cake Bake Shop. My Magical Chocolate Fudge Brownies are some of the best around! If you like brownies that are thick and fudge like, then these brownies will be your new favorites! I am also sharing a recipe for my Magical Overnight Oven Pavlova. This dessert literally tastes like a giant marshmallow. The taste, the texture, everything about it is just magical. I hope you enjoy.
Magical Chocolate Fudge Brownies
2 sticks unsalted butter
1 ½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 ½ cups white granulated sugar
½ cup light brown sugar, packed
5 large eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
1 ¼ cups white all-purpose flour
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9×13-inch baking pan with aluminum foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray containing flour.
In a large microwave safe bowl combine the unsalted butter with the 1 ½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips. Microwave on high for 2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds.
Beat in the white granulated sugar and packed light brown sugar.
Beat in the large eggs, one egg at a time.
Add in the pure vanilla extract and instant coffee granules.
Pour in the white all-purpose flour, unsweetened cocoa powder and salt all at once. Gently fold until the dry ingredients are no longer visible and just combined with the rest of the ingredients. Then, gently fold in the ½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips.
Pour into the prepared baking pan and smooth out the top. Bake, in preheated oven for 40 minutes. Do not overbake these brownies! Remove and chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours. Before chilling, you can sprinkle the tops of the brownies with flaky sea salt.
Remove from the refrigerator and cut into desired size pieces and enjoy!
Magical Overnight Oven Pavlova
3 large egg whites
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup white granulated sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Start by preheating your oven to 275 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
Separate the large eggs, collecting only the egg whites. Make sure there are no traces of egg yolk in the egg whites. This is a particularly important step!
Add the salt to the bowl of the large egg whites.
Using an electric mixer, beat the large egg whites until soft peaks form. This should take about 4-5 minutes depending on the speed of your mixer. You will know it is at the “soft peak” stage when you remove the mixer and there are light “soft” peaks that form at the tips of the beaters.
Continue beating the egg whites with the electric mixer on a lower speed and add the white granulated sugar a little bit at a time.
Once the sugar has all been added, add in the pure vanilla extract and beat for about another minute or so, until it has been thoroughly combined.
Working carefully, spoon the egg white mixture out into a circle shape on the parchment paper using a metal spoon about an inch thick.
Make sure the pavlova is even across the center and is about 8-10 inches in diameter.
Using the back of the spoon, working in a “circular motion”, even out the top of the pavlova.
Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes exactly, no longer.
Once the time is up, turn the oven off but leave the pavlova in! Do not open the oven door, even to check on it, for at least 8 hours. This is a perfect dessert to make the night before and just leave it in the oven, overnight.
The next morning (or 8-10 hours later) remove the pavlova from the oven and serve same day.
This can be served in such a variety of ways. I top mine with whipped cream and fresh strawberry jam. You can also serve it alongside whipped cream and fresh berries such as strawberries, blueberries, etc. Another option would be to crumble the finished pavlova and serve it “Eton Mess” style by layering it in a cup with fresh berries and whipped cream.