Walk into Sifted Bakery at Spring Creek and you are greeted with the aroma of baking. The case holding smaller editions of cakes, pies and cookies give an open invitation to “taste and see.” Summer flavors entice the customers this week — all made from scratch. And it has to be a crime to offer such temptations.
Partners in crime Tammy Hansen and Candace Lewis run the bakery with such aplomb, they’ve won several contests and their wedding cakes have been featured in magazines — currently Cake Central for the second time. The bakery results from 30 years of work. The two have developed their own recipes and techniques. And the best ingredients are used — you won’t find margarine or shortening anywhere.
Although Sifted sells primarily “sweet stuff,” the “cakers” have seasonal offerings such as the Tomato Pie (always with local, fresh tomatoes), Strawberry Shortcake and Peach Pie. They also do cupcakes, but “we don’t want to be known for cupcakes,” Hansen said.
The Tomato Pie goes beyond being good, samplers agree. Made with fresh ingredients, this cheesy vegetable filling is cuddled in a tender, buttery crust. One slice is sufficient for a meal. Hansen grows her own tomatoes and other vegetables, and if her tomatoes are not ready, she only buys from local producers. “You can’t have good tomatoes in December,” Hansen said. That’s the secret of this pie — the tomatoes have to be prefect. She said her recipe is still evolving. “I just try this and that,” she said, “until it is just right.”
And people come from miles around to get the cinnamon rolls. “They have a cult following,” confided Hansen. Add to those two favorites her peach pie filling, which, she said she has been doing for a long time — a change-and-try method.
But the real foundation of the business is wedding cakes. They are works of art as well as amazingly delicious creations from the oven. And everything on the cake — ribbon, emblems and flowers — are all edible. Hansen’s father was an artist and she inherited his talent and creativity to fulfill her dream. Now she has all the things she loves in one package — art, cooking and gardening.
An average wedding cake takes some 18 to 20 hours from start to finish. Weekends are usually filled with orders for wedding, birthday and speciality cakes. And when a wedding cake is finished, they travel with the cake to its destination. The cakes have been delivered to Georgia, North Carolina, Lookout Mountain and Nashville, as well as locally.
Lewis, her friend of two decades, was her encourager to begin the business two years ago.
“Gotta do it,” Lewis told her, and they both agree it was a good step and they’re in it for the long haul. Hansen moved to Cleveland from California 22 years ago and Lewis, who was born in Virginia, moved to Cleveland from Atlanta. The Sifted Bakery, which began in downtown Cleveland, has been at Spring Creek since September.
It’s the fulfillment of a dream of a lifetime, Hansen said. “I love vintage things and all things beautiful.” And her former career of a paralegal prepared her for the business end of the bakery. She said she is “super organized” and that helps in the business, which takes a lot of work, patience and practice. It’s not unusual to put in 96 hours each in the shop. “You have to love it a lot,” she added. Even Lewis’ son, 14, is involved and is sometimes “invited” to spend the day at the bakery to wash dishes and so forth.
In an emergency, Hansen’s husband, John, will lend a helping hand and her daughter helps with the decorating, but her two sons, she says, are not standing in line to work this hard. She hopes that one day, her daughter will “pick up where I leave off” so the business will expand and grow for the next generation. No one, she said, starts a business with the idea to end it.
It’s easy to see what Hansen and Lewis love best about their work — everything.
“I love working on something like a beautiful cake,” Hansen said. “Art and food in one place — love most in the world,” she added. “I eat, breathe and sleep this. You have to do what you love.”