WHEN A certain cupcakery closed its doors last year on the north end of Whitaker, cupcake aficionados mourned their loss. Such a primo spot, however, smack in the brawling midst of the hottest tourist spot this side of Atlanta, was not destined to remain shuttered.
Local baker Abby Longwater, with her infectious smile and strong entrepreneurial drive, was determined to open her own place, replete with not only the longed-for cupcakes, but her own unique cakes, created with skill and humor and her mama’s recipes—thus Wicked Cakes was born.
Bakeries are part and parcel of the family history, Grandpa Longwater having bought up a promising bakeshop himself many years before, and after zooming through college, while honing her knowledge at Cake-It-Away, Abby was a little astonished to find an ad on Craig’s List calling for a new tenant for the former cupcake haven.
Fate, it seems, had moved her in a new direction, and she took to it with a fine sense of timing and admirable business aplomb.
It’s a family affair at 38 Whitaker Street, and this astute young lady has her sis, as well as her mom there to confab with on ideas, recipes, and new ventures in baking. Abby took a slew of courses from the famous sugar artist Nicholas Lodge and started making unique cakes with details both amusing and beautiful, depending on the customers’ tastes.
I particularly love the Jameson Whiskey Cake, colored rich brown, shaped like a whiskey barrel and topped with mini-Jameson bottles, or the children’s birthday cake with masses of butterflies, fanciful fairies and a host of gnomes climbing up the tiers.
Brides, though, have become avid admirers of not only her delicate creations in icing and sugar, but the host of flavors she offers—why stick to pound cake when you can have Salted Caramel or Chocolate Raspberry?
When destination brides lamented that they couldn’t be here for the tastings, Abby took the matter in hand and created Cakes in a Jar: little Mason jars filled with the various flavors that are easily packaged and sent by air to brides who, though living far away, wish to celebrate their special day in historic Savannah.
Wicked Cakes, just across from Hang Fire on Whitaker, takes its colors from the name: crimson walls alternate with stark black, the logo in curly Victorian calligraphy, and big black and white tiles across the floor—it somehow makes me think of the Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland.’
The delightfully wicked décor, however, is mellowed somewhat by a wall given over to the colorful work of local photographers (all for sale, of course!) and the big, jaunty silver fork on the wall by the front door.
Outside the masses of tourists peer through the windows under a black and white awning, and ultimately, if the array of baked goods doesn’t draw them in, that big red sign stretched across the front counter will: “Cupcake Happy Hour! Buy One, Get One FREE Cupcakes, 7pm-8pm Every Day!”
Now who could resist? After you’ve dined on duck and champagne, or had your fill of sushi and tapas at the local fine eateries, what could top off the meal better than a scrumptious, fresh-baked daily cupcake?
Each day sees 12-15 different varieties that vary from well-loved favorites like Red Velvet and Lemon-Filled beauties to inventive treats like Abby’s Avocado-Cream Cheese n’ Pistachio topped with Bacon—for a bakery called “wicked” you gotta stretch the imagination a little!
My personal policy with bakeries is to do a family taste test-- that way I’m not tempted to overindulge, giving myself a sugar headache, and I get to feel divinely generous at the same time!
When I walked through the door with a small stack of black boxes and their fetching crimson logo, well, let’s just say that everybody finished up their dinner real fast.
Baked sweets don’t stay around too darned long in this household, and it took only a day and a half or so before those china plates, with their tempting wares, were clean as a whistle. A personal stand-out was the coconut praline—never had those before!—and my kids and nephew took down those cupcakes (each cut in four sections to facilitate family-wide tasting).
Hubby’s not a big sweets fan, but even he had to admit the Pecan Bourbon Bars were the hands-down favorite.
These luscious bars are a big seller, Abby tells me, especially with tourists seeking a special Southern flavor. Those native pecans are chopped and loaded on top of a moist Bourbon laced bar, and are just the right dessert for those who hate to be overwhelmed with sugar at the end of a meal, yet want something tasty and sweet.
Another special delight is the Snickerdoodle bars. Now, I don’t know how many people grew up with grandmothers who baked, but the Snickerdoodle, a simple, firm cookie, topped with cinnamon and sugar (of German origin), wound its way through my childhood parties, warm from my grandmother’s oven, showing up at neighborhood birthdays, picnics and school lunches for many years while growing up in Savannah.
This is the first time I’d seen it in bar form, and Abby swirls buttery caramel on top to make it extra appealing.