There are cakes- and then there are wedding cakes. Ellen Bartlett opened her award-winning wedding cake bakery, Cakes to Remember, in Brookline in 1988. Cakes to Remember, which Bartlett categorizes as "a cake boutique," regularly earns rave reviews and has earned the reputation of being perhaps the Boston area's premier source for the single most important dessert of our lives. Such a reputation clearly rests upon more than the skills of baking alone, and when you look at the cakes she has created at her Cypress Street shop, you will soon appreciate the artist's eye and decades of top-tier culinary experience Bartlett brings to her designs. Whether you are looking for that once-in-a-lifetime wedding cake or for a memorable cake to celebrate another occasion; for traditional white or "Mocha Frangelico Infusion;" Ellen Bartlett is determined to help make your vision a reality.
"Working with clients and hearing what they love and the direction of their event is a constant source of inspiration," she says, "as the process for me is really a collaborative one."
Bartlett is well prepared to turn baking into art. As a young child, she enjoyed baking her own treats- and loved to draw. Bartlett graduated from Brown University with a fine arts degree, but she never lost her love of baking. As the Cakes to Remember website relates, she knew that "her future was about the quest for creating beautiful food. It took working and traveling in Europe, followed by a stint at the Silver Palate in NYC testing and creating recipes for their award winning first cookbook, to having her own small catering business, to realize that her destiny was creating beautiful and delicious one-of-a-kind cake works of art."
Despite the success of Cakes to Remember, Bartlett has maintained her early promise to herself to keep the business small, dedicating herself to the intimacy and quality that was part of her vision for her career. She also attributes a considerable measure of her success to her core staff of bakers and artists, who share her vision and enthusiasm.
Even as wedding cakes go, Bartlett's memorable cakes strike one as pieces of art. Quietly sculpted, ganache-draped austere structures; exotic flowers with long, delicate petals; hanging foliage of intricate detail: the visual effect is invariably stunning, and it is not surprising to learn that Bartlett has long had a love of gardening, architecture and textiles.
From a tumbling profusion of cheerful blue morning glories to a tower of fine, white columns to round tiers of dusky lavender, Cakes to Remember presents an surprising diversity of visual effects that it matches with its inventive variety and combinations of flavors. Some of the custom offerings include the joining of Grand Marnier with fresh strawberry buttercream, red velvet cake with caramel pecan filling, and a lemon cake filled with lemon mousse and topped with Cointreau buttercream.
As you might expect, such exceptional creations do not come cheap. A 12" double-layer celebration cake is priced at $150, and a tiered wedding cake in wedding season starts at $500. But if the saying "You get what you pay for" means anything, then it is worth noting that Cakes to Remember scores a five out of five stars on both The Knot and Wedding Wire, and is on City Voter's Boston A-List. They have also won "Best of Boston" seven times- more than any other bakery/wedding cake designer. From an eight-year-old fascinated at watching her mother bake to perhaps Boston's finest wedding cake creator, Ellen Bartlett has realized her vision and made her Cakes to Remember the crème de la crème.
By Jim Caton
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