Each week, pre-booked tours take kids into Mary Denning's kitchen, where they learn about the creation of various cakes, pies, cookies, and baked goods. In one corner of the bakery, they might see the baker using Mary's mother's recipe to stuff pasties with ground sirloin and veggies. In another, owner Mary Denning creates custom cakes for weddings and special occasions, using icing to sculpt intricate floral designs or replicas of the edible baseball caps worn by famous gingerbread athletes.
But the cake shop doesn’t just accommodate kids. Mary and her team want to share their sweet creations with as many people as possible, so they make sugar and gluten free desserts and—on select days—host baking classes.
Swirls Cafe elates taste buds with a cavalcade of cupcakes crafted fresh daily in a panoply of inventive flavors. Customers can wrangle a dozen cupcakes from the 12–15 different varieties in each day’s rotation, such as strawberry cheesecake, lemon cake blooming with blueberries, and german-chocolate cupcake with coconut-pecan frosting. The apple-pie-spice cupcake draws inspiration from its sister dessert, apple pie, and the classic red velvet sports a tiara of silky cream cheese bejeweled with pecans, coconut, or cinnamon. Alternately, party planners can splendorize the skyline of any birthday, baby shower, or mime-school graduation with a cupcake tower, which assembles 18 sugary girders into a pinnacle of pastry architecture adorned with custom decorations
The bakers at Canton Cakery know that romance is a flexible construct. To some couples, it might mean a miniature Valentine's Day pink-velvet cake, embellished with hearts and raspberry-cream filling. For others, it might mean an elaborate birthday cake on their husband's 40th birthday: an edible scene of him catching a fish in the great outdoors.
These are just two examples of the cakery's custom creations, which follow nearly any theme and add delicious flair to events. The cake's base flavor, usually hidden beneath beautifully sculpted fondant, can range from a mix of chocolate and vanilla to caramel or red velvet, with creamy fillings such as vanilla and strawberry.
The elaborate exteriors are even more diverse. Wedding cakes might balance their buttercream-covered tiers on pillars, with lacework that matches the bride's gown or the groom's favorite doily. On the other hand, children's cakes sport superhero logos, soccer balls, and even photographs of Justin Bieber. Canton Cakery also makes large batches of cupcakes to stack on towers with topper cakes and cookies.
Joined by her husband and close friends, founder Denise Mehl sought to create a space where parents could enjoy a good cup of coffee while watching their children play in a safe and soft environment. The result is Jungle Java, where tykes traipse through a well-padded multilevel maze of forest huts and treehouses. Toddlers can take time away from the fray in a separate safari area equipped with soft tunnels, slides, and age-appropriate cryptograms. As children romp, parents plunk themselves in the soft folds of a leather couch or power through some work on the free WiFi network. Jungle Java's café carries a menu of coffee drinks, smoothies, and snacks that include all-beef hot dogs and turkey and avocado sandwiches on eight-grain bread.