In a city like Davis where there are converging views on just about everything, there is one topic almost everyone can agree on: frosting, cake and a little paper liner. Yes folks, cupcakes.
Starting this past August, there has been a new bakery on the block catering solely to the sweet tooth: Let Them Eat Cake.
The bakery is set apart by its wide array of cupcakes and unique business structure. While most students consider school their full time job, two of the three storeowners are UC Davis students themselves. Sisters, Chelsea Coffman, a first-year English major, and Brittany Coffman, a junior biological sciences major, share equal partnership with their mother, Paulette Coffman.
“[The bakery] has been in the works the past couple of years,” Paulette said. “My daughters are equal partners. They both invested their life savings into it.”
Brittany said these savings came primarily from their allowances and birthday money saved over their lifetimes. Even with such a large financial and time investment, Brittany has no regrets.
“I absolutely love [the job],” Brittany said. “It has been our dream to own our own business some day so we had no hesitation in starting the store.”
The Coffman’s goal of opening Let Them Eat Cake was a dream realized over time. Paulette attributes her baking skills and the store’s concept from years of baking cakes for family occasions, including her daughters’ birthday parties.
“I learned to bake through trial and error, and a lot of years of practice. My daughters never wanted store bought cakes growing up- their cakes always had to be made by me,” Paulette said.
Some creations Paulette referred to include a Harry Potter birthday cake, and a hat designed to look like the one worn by storybook character, Madeleine. Years of observing their mother’s culinary inventions sparked Brittany and Chelsea’s interest in baking and store owning.
“I think my earliest memories were of Christmas baking,” Chelsea said. “We would bake hundreds of cookies, candies and other treats for friends. I started out by watching my mother very carefully and jumping in head first.”
With the store open six days a week, Chelsea and Brittany have had to learn how to balance their time between business and schoolwork. Paulette admits to committing anywhere from 12 to 22 hours to the store every day, while Brittany and Chelsea work around their class schedules during the week.
Brittany attributes her time management skills to having two years of college experience before opening the store. Her self-proclaimed strategy is to “study hard and work hard”. Even with all the responsibilities that come with owning a store, the Coffman girls still know their priorities.
“Education comes first. School is always their priority. It doesn’t matter how old they are. Mom’s rule.” Paulette said.
The store offers six to eight cupcake varieties a day, three of which are available every day at the price of $2.75 per cupcake. Monday, for example, offers the daily flavors of “Scarlett,” “Dubliner” and “Illegally Blonde” in addition to “Carrot Top,” “Happy Camper,” “French Toast” and “Vegan Chai.” November’s seasonal cupcake is named “Harvest Time”, and consists of sweet potato spice cake and a maple cream cheese frosting.
“The recipes are a collaborative effort,” Paulette said. “It’s been a joint effort all down the road.”
The Coffman’s said that their inspiration comes from every day experiences. One special flavor, “Hey Peanut Butter Cup”, is a line from one of their favorite movies. Another cupcake dubbed the “Amy Winehouse”, boasts to be a “boozy orange cake with a beehive of dark chocolate-orange butter cream”.
In addition to cupcakes, Let Them Eat Cake also bakes an assortment of cookies and any type of celebratory cake. Cake prices range anywhere from basic flavors of $35, to upwards of $230, because of the many layers and labor efforts. One of their latest themed cakes was a double-layered creation styled after the movie, The Nightmare Before Christmas. The Coffman’s originally created the cake to sell, but many customers insisted they keep it for display.
All of Let Them Eat Cake products except one are also sold with the promise of containing no preservatives or artificial ingredients.
“We tried to make the red velvet cake for the Scarlett with beet, but I did not like the flavor it imparted,” Paulette said. The cupcake instead receives its red color from food coloring-the only artificial ingredient to be found in the store.
Let Them Eat Cake is located at 423 L St. Suite B, and is open Monday through Saturday. For more information on the bakery and its products can be found at lethemeatcake-davis.com.
AMANDA HARDWICK can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.