For Auburnite Cathy Bianchi, life is a cakewalk every day. As owner and sole employee of Gimmie Cake Too, Bianchi is part baker, part artist, and always busy. During wedding season, there are weekends when Bianchi might assemble and deliver up to seven three-tiered confections in three different counties.
When asked which kind of cake is her favorite, Bianchi confesses that she doesn't like cake all that much. So, what's her favorite part of the job? The people she gets to know, and she knows quite a few after baking cakes in Auburn for the last 20 years.
Her customers are return customers, and they become good friends.
"I might make a cake for a high school graduation," she said Tuesday while taking a break from baking in her small industrial kitchen tucked between Foothill Market and the post office on Lincoln Way. "Then I'll make the cake for the college graduation. Eventually, the same customer will need an engagement cake, a shower cake, a wedding cake, and then the gender reveal party."
Bianchi's jokes that her cakes cover the entire cycle of life.
The sweetness has certainly stayed with her throughout her own life. Bianchi took her first cake decorating class 40 years ago as a favor to a friend who needed one more student to fill the class. The cost was $10, and Bianchi borrowed the necessary decorating supplies.
She fell in love with frosting.
A few months later she was teaching her own classes, and then slowly but surely folks started asking if she'd bake them a cake.
The answer was always yes.
Bianchi tried out a few different jobs along the way. She made cakes for magazine photo shoots, but covering styrofoam with frosted Christmas flowers in July wasn't really her thing. She tried working at a bakery in a grocery store.
"I lasted six months," she said, laughing. "I had to fill, ice, and decorate a wedding cake in 20 minutes."
She couldn't stand it. She was too much of an artist, and she wanted to spend more time with her customers.
Now she runs her business the way she likes, spending one to two hours with a bride and groom, getting every detail just right, and she always takes her customers ideas into consideration. That's how she came up with her almond cake with raspberry cream cheese filling and her vanilla bean cake with blackberry mousse.
She loves the decorating ideas her customers come up with, too; emoji cakes and "Survivor" cakes and yellow cartoon camper cakes. She takes a photo of each one and stores them on her phone between snapshots of her grandchildren.
And cakes aren't her only specialty. She also makes cupcakes. In fact, she keeps cupcakes on hand, so a walk-in customer could walk out with a dozen frosted cupcakes in ten minutes.
Cupcakes are a newer trend, she said, along with cakes that look like birch trees that are popular with local wineries. Whatever the trend, Bianchi is ready for the challenge.
Sometimes she does get a little lonely all by herself in her kitchen with just cake batter and frosting to keep her company, she said, but on those days she turns up her radio, opens her door to let in a breeze and throws herself into her art.
Though they may catch the scent of sugar in the air, most people passing by don't even notice Bianchi's there.
"I'm Auburn's best-kept secret," she laughs.
If you'd like more information about Gimmie Cake Too, visit http://www.gimmiecaketoo.com/
or call 530-305-2269.