It’s taken her two and a half years, but local baker Gwendolyn Rogers has finally launched The Cake Bake Shop. Located in what was formerly Broad Ripple’s Little House gift shop at 6515 Carrollton Ave., the Cake Bake Shop is a pink and white confection of a bakery, with sparkling chandeliers and glass cases full of just-baked treats. There’s also coffee, hot chocolate, wine and champagne — and some soup and sandwich options for lunch as well. But even before the shop opened last weekend, Rogers’ cakes and cupcakes had been getting plenty of attention.
So how did your cupcakes end up in the new ‘Dumb and Dumber To’ movie?
It’s nuts. My husband has been working with the Farrellys for years, since the first Dumb and Dumber, so it’s been over 20 years. During that period, I have had the Farrellys over to my house dozens of times, and every time they come, I always make dinner, and I always make dessert, and I do the whole shebang. And so when I read the script, there’s cake in the script. And so I immediately got on the phone and was like ‘There’s no way you can hire somebody else.’ He was like, ‘Well, you know, people pay a lot of money for something like that.’ And he said, ‘But you know what? I wrote that for you anyway.’ So he goes, ‘Of course, you’re in it.’
But how did you get into the baking business?
My husband’s from here, and we moved here a little over six years ago, so that the boys could be closer to family and be with Grandma and all that. And every school event I would always make something. So one year I think I made like 40 lemon cakes for teachers, because it’s amazing how many teachers your kid has. [I have three kids.] Each child has at least 10 teachers because there’s music, there PE, there’s history, there’s English, there’s math, and I couldn’t leave anybody out. After those cakes, every single one of those people said, ‘Would you make me another one?’ or ‘Can I buy that from you?’ The next thing you know, I had so many cakes I was making, I had to buy another oven. I had to buy another stove. I had to buy a fridge to put in my garage because I was running out of room.
How did you decide to open the shop?
It just was like a domino effect. I started looking for places to cook out of, because I thought I can’t do this out of my house anymore. I had to buy bags of flour in 50-pound sacks. And then where am I going to put that? My house is tiny. So I started looking for places to work out of. And that’s when I started looking at opening my own spot. I made the commitment to do it, and then here I am.
Were people supportive of the idea?
I won’t tell you how many people said I couldn’t do it. A lot of people said, ‘You’re crazy’ and ’No one’s going to buy that from you. That’s insane. What are you thinking?’
But you’ve gotten a lot of pre-opening publicity. How’d that happen?
I entered a cake competition in London, and first of all, I never in a million years thought that they would get back to me. Three months go by, and I don’t hear a thing, and I thought, you know the event’s coming up, it’s like a month away, but just in case, I bought myself a ticket, because I thought I can always cancel. But if I don’t buy a ticket to Europe now, then I’m never going to be able to afford it. And then about a week before the event, I get an email from the head of the contest, and they said would you write a little paragraph about who you are and why you want to be part of this. So I thought oh, my God, sure. I’m so excited — I’ll write anything. So I write it, and like four days before, they said like out of like 3,000 entries, there were 30 people that got in, and they said we’d like you to come. The fact that I won, I can’t even believe it.
And what did that lead to?
So Peter Sidwell was my judge, and he’s one of the hosts of ‘Britain’s Best Bakery’ in England, and he’s famous over there. He and I now have become such good friends that we’re working on trying to get a Food Network show together, so that he would be overseas and then I’m the United States baker and he’s the English baker. So we now actually talk all the time, which I can’t believe, because going from being judged to now we’re working together is kind of cool.
So how did you end up baking for Elton John at concerts in Paris?
Now I’m kind of famous for my chocolate cake, and off of that, one of Elton’s people has been following me on Facebook. And I guess his favorite cake is chocolate, so they Facebooked me and said, ‘Would you be interested?’ And I thought, this can’t be for real. And then I was like, okay, maybe this is real. They invited me to concerts three nights in a row, front row. It’s amazing that cake or food has turned into this bigger-than-I-ever-imagined scenario where it’s connected me with people on a level that I never would have thought would happen.
And there’s another film project?
So on the 20th of November, I am flying down to New Orleans, and there’s a movie being shot called ‘Man Down.’ And Aaron Osborne was the art director on ‘Dumb and Dumber To,’ and so he’s like, ‘Oh, my gosh, Gwen, there’s a birthday cake in the scene. Would you fly down and put the birthday cake in?’ So I’m making a birthday cake on the 19th. I’m flying down later that evening, and we’re shooting the cake on the 20th. So I’m going to come back with of photo of all the actors and my cake, and it’s going to be super exciting. So that’s next.
Jolene Ketzenberger covers food at IndyDrinkIndy.com. Follow her on Twitter @JKetzenberger.