For folks who don't speak French, "gâteau" means cake. It's the name of Cara Jorgensen's new baking company and a name you should probably learn how to say if you like sweets. Jorgensen, 22, wants to provide desserts that suit both "outlandishly wild and the 'normal' palates." Self-taught in the kitchen, she currently works at FuManChu Cupcakes where Andy Jackson creates cupcakes that venture outside-of-the-box and easily into the stomachs of Charlotteans who can't keep away from his shop at 826 Lamar Ave. in Plaza-Midwood.
Jorgensen, who is using his certified kitchen to craft her concoctions, credits Jackson for allowing her "freak flag to fly in the kitchen."
"I learned the fundamentals before coming here, so now I just get to play with flavors and tighten my technique," Jorgensen says. "Sometimes I'll have ideas for a cupcake that I might not have time for at FuManChu's, so I take those ideas and incorporate them into Gâteau's cakes."
But cake wasn't always on Jorgensen's mind. "I always thought I wanted to teach high school students about philosophy but when I realized that wasn't a core topic in high school I turned to cakes," she says.
In 2015, she quit waiting tables to bake full-time. Since then, she's made it her mission to create as many new recipes as possible. "My family never passed down any million year old recipes and I kind of figured I should get good at something so I'll be able to pass my own traditions down one day," she says. Jorgensen is slated to launch the web-only Gâteau Baking Company (gateaubaking.com) on Feb. 9, but she is also planning to make cookies, tarts and other goodies — that have a longer shelf-life than cake — to be sold at other spots around town in the future.
Creative Loafing: What do you think of the saying "You can't have your cake and eat it, too"?
Cara Jorgensen: If there's anything I've learned in starting my own small business it's that you definitely can "have your cake and eat it, too." I'm so happy with where my life is. Every time I get an email about an order, it's so exciting that people are counting on me to make their special days taste amazing.
What, in your opinion, makes a good cake?
Moisture! It's all about the textures and the feeling you get while eating a cake. Cake is celebration food so if you're at a party eating a dry crumbly cake that's going to be a downer. Good cake keeps the mood where it should be and keeps its consumer interested and asking for more.
What's the strangest cake on the menu? Also, can you give me an example of how you've taken a classic cake and put your own special spin on it?
The Salty Squid. It's a vanilla caramel cake filled with homemade salted caramel sauce and caramel buttercream that is dyed black with squid ink. Everything you love about salted caramel can be found in The Salty Squid. It's usually topped with fresh flowers but that can be changed depending on the occasion.
Our Catcher In The Pie cake is a twist on an apple pie — an American Classic. It's a cinnamon apple cake filled with an apple pie compote and topped with a cinnamon cream cheese icing. It's also topped with even more apple compote and fresh cinnamon sticks. It's all about getting outside of what other bakeries teach you is acceptable.