Baking is chemistry, of course, and, ironically, it’s the class Olga Jiménez—owner of Short Street Cakes—found to her liking in high school while trying to avoid a traditional science class. She had worked at West Asheville’s Short Street Cakes for four years when the offer came to buy the business. Having baked at home for years and with family recipes in hand, she took on the challenge.
Their bakery, she says, takes a lot of care with ingredients. “When we bake, we bake everything fresh from scratch.” Ingredients are all natural, organic and locally sourced when possible.
Most of their goods are baked to fill the many orders that come in, with extras baked to go in the case. Cupcakes—such delights as chocolate raspberry, salted caramel and peanut butter chocolate—are baked every day and those with a sweet tooth can check Facebook daily to see what’s available.
With wedding season in full bloom, the busy season has begun at the bakery with events booked until November. No stress turning out cakes for the big day, she says. “When you do it every day, it’s okay.”
Some brides, she admits with a laugh, do request “crazy things.” What then? “Everybody works together to figure out how we’re going to do the cake. I have a wonderful team.”
Days in the bakery are long but it makes for family-like togetherness. “We come at five, but we don’t have a time to leave.”
A nod to her Mexican heritage are two desserts on the menu for which she uses her mother’s recipes: Tres leches cake (vanilla cake soaked overnight in three milks, then topped with fresh fruit and whipped cream) and Valery’s flan (traditional Mexican baked caramelized custard dessert).
Then there are some unusual varieties. Chocolate porter cake incorporates local porter beer and is a big hit on Father’s Day, Jiménez says. Maple bacon apple cake has chopped bacon bits, diced apple and molasses added to its cream cheese frosting.
Unsure about whether to order pie or cake? Have both in a piecake! A pie (say, cherry) and a cake (how about chocolate?) are baked individually. The pie is then placed between cake layers and the whole thing is frosted. “Really good,” Jiménez says.
Working around sweets all day nearly every day doesn’t kill the appetite for them. “I’m always eating cake,” she says. “Everyday I’m eating something.”
Short Street Cakes is located at 225 Haywood Road in West Asheville. Hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 6 p.m. To learn more, visit shortstreetcakes.com.