From the very first time I met Caren Sample, which was nearly two years ago when her shop had only been open for a few days, I have enjoyed everything about her, from her creativity, her work ethic, her humor, her generosity, and her relationship with God. She is the owner of The Bakery At Elkmont, located at 23925 Thach Road in Elkmont, right next to the railroad tracks. Her cupcakes were voted #1 in the Valley by al.com, and I can say from experience that her wares are both tasty and a feast for the eyes.
I also am very proud of her for defying the recession, and for doing what puts recessions to flight: start a business, serve your customers well, work your backside to a nub, and give God the glory for the increase. So, without further ado, this article is going to take a look at the past year, issue an invitation to the people of the Valley to have Caren help make their holidays sweet, and look ahead toward The Bakery At Elkmont’s second anniversary.
This past year Caren experimented with baking cupcakes every day that were available to the general public, as well as building her custom cake/ cupcake/specialty baked goods brand. It proved to be too much, and now she is concentrating only on custom goods. However, she told me, “If people will give me a day’s notice, I can put together even a small amount, like a half dozen cupcakes, and have them ready for pickup.” That is nearly the best of both worlds, i.e., custom baked, and daily baked.
Each year in March, the Veterans’ Museum has an annual luncheon to honor various women in our area who have served in the Armed Forces, and The Bakery At Elkmont made the cupcakes for dessert that were just like the flyer that had been put out to advertise the event. They were beautiful.
The summer at The Bakery was filled with activity, what with wedding season, a lot of smash cakes for one year olds, birthday cakes and anniversary celebrations. I have playfully suggested that perhaps there might be a market for “smash cakes for seniors,” now that I am sixty. Actually, I’d be up for a full on food fight, and perhaps someday I’ll hire her to make the goodies for it…
September saw the Bakery’s involvement with Sydney’s Coins for Courage, a nonprofit fundraising organization that was started by Johnson Elementary School student Sydney Newton, herself a cancer survivor. That event helped raise $700.
The 2nd Annual Grease Festival was also held in September, and Caren prepared some of her most popular items for the Young Republicans’ booth. Kelly Kazcek of al.com voted the “Inside Out Sundrop” cupcake, and deep fried s’mores #1 and #2 of all the sweet offerings at the “celebration of all things fried.”
October was the 5th Annual Pink Elephant Luncheon, sponsored by Athens Limestone Hospital as part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month , held at the Limestone County Event Center. The Bakery at Elkmont produced a whopping 540 cupcakes for the event.
October also was the month for the Holiday Photo Shoot at the Bakery, held in cooperation with Randall Peek Photography. In addition to having holiday pictures taken, kids got to have an opportunity to bake with their grandparents.
December 7th is going to be Decorate Day at the Bakery. Kids will be able to decorate a cookie or cupcake for the holidays under Caren’s careful tutelage, and they can either eat their creation there or take it home to consume.
In addition, for the holidays there will be custom cheese cakes available by order, and pre-made icing for sale. The icing will be made at the shop by Caren, and will be perfect for someone who has the time to bake a cake, but won’t have to fuss with the frosting.
So, what’s ahead for 2014? At the beginning of the year Caren is going to launch her kids’ party service, where she’ll “come to you.” Rather than have the custom cake all ready for pick up at the shop, the party attendees will be involved in making it, which I think is a marvelous idea.
Caren is also going to look into adding homemade ice cream to the menu, and will gear up for Valentine’s Day, one of the busiest holidays of the year for The Bakery.
March will be the anniversary celebration, but she hasn’t told me yet what she’s up to. I just know that it will be worth waiting for, as is everything she does, and we congratulate Caren on her hard work that has made The Bakery at Elkmont one of the best kept secrets in the Valley.
The Bakery At Elkmont
23925 Thach Rd, Elkmont, AL 35613
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner