Taking the Cake
Classic Cakes Celebrates Nearly 25 Years Offering Custom Tasty Treats
Photographer / Amy Payne
Nearly a quarter of a century ago, Ilene McHone was baking and decorating cakes out of her home for friends and family. After a while, she rented a small space and opened Classic Cakes, a cake decorating business that has expanded through the years.
“When Ilene started, her dream was to have the best cake shop in the area by being innovative with designs and setting trends,” says Megan Ritz, who attended culinary school before doing an internship at Classic Cakes to learn all about cake decorating. She then worked for McHone as a decorator for five years, unsure of where her life path would take her.
“Cake decorating has been an interest of mine ever since I was little,” Ritz says, who credits McHone and the talented staff at Classic Cakes for teaching her how to sculpt and paint cakes. “I never thought of myself as an artist, but it was neat to learn a different side of myself.”
Ritz stepped away from work for a bit after having a baby. Then a year ago, McHone hired Ritz to become the store’s general manager because she was looking to carve out more time to spend with her grandchildren.
“This place has always had a little bit of magic to it, I think because Ilene has built this culture of learning from and teaching one another,” Ritz says, who just this month took ownership of the shop.
Ritz says perfecting the art of cake creation and decoration is mostly a matter of practice and patience, plus a lot of trial and error.
“I have a great passion for food and cooking. I also love teaching,” Ritz says. “In fact, I think my specialty is teaching even though there are a lot of people who work here who far exceed my skill level.”
A custom shop, the staff at Classic Cakes will do any design a customer presents them with, regardless of difficulty.
“We can do anything. People bring us a picture or just describe their idea and we create it, whether that’s a race car, an animal or a person,” Ritz says. In some instances, that requires them putting the cake on a steel beam that’s attached to a wooden board so it doesn’t topple over. They then hand-paint designs using regular paint brushes and edible paint. For instance, they did a replica of an engine for a Rolls-Royce celebration that involved a ton of detail work. They also did a wedding for an NBA player where the bride requested that the cake be as tall as her groom.
“We’ve had cakes that are so tall we’ve had to bring a ladder with us to put the top tier of the cake on the table,” Ritz says.
Then there are the cakes they put on chandelier swings that are suspended from the ceiling.
It’s a whole lot of work for something that ultimately gets consumed.
“Most artists want their art to live on for a long time. Ours is gone in 20 minutes,” Ritz says. “It’s kind of exciting, though, because you get that big rush of people who love the cake. They cut into it and destroy it, which is not something you usually do to art. Then they eat it and it’s equally delicious. In that way, we get that reward twice.”
Classic Cakes offers 40 different cake flavors and fillings, including lemon lavender with raspberry filling and pink champagne with strawberry filling. The shop favorite is almond pound cake with chocolate truffle filling. But anything goes.
“Weddings aren’t what they used to be,” Ritz says. “There are no rules, which means brides and grooms can choose fun flavors like, say, pumpkin cake for a fall wedding.”
Classic Cakes offers gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, vegan, sugar-free, soy-free, nut-free, and dye-free menus. They also offer complimentary cake tasting by appointment for brides and grooms. Newlywed Melody White purchased her wedding cake from Classic Cakes and couldn’t have been happier with her choice.
“The design and flavors were delivered exactly as promised,” White says. “And we received rave reviews all night from guests about the great flavor and perfect texture.”
When Daniel Waschow stepped into Classic Cakes in search of a birthday cake, a staff member offered him a variety of samples. Ultimately, he selected the raspberry cake, which was a big hit at the party.
“Most bakeries only offer made-to-order cakes and need 48-hour notice, but Classic Cakes had a wide selection of cakes and cupcakes ready to go,” Waschow says. “I wish we would have taken a picture of the cake before our inner gourmands devoured the heavenly treat!”
Ritz is grateful to both new and loyal customers, many of whom take advantage of Wednesdays when cakes are half price.
“We see people celebrate their weddings, anniversaries, birthdays,” says Ritz. “We get to see these people through the best moments of their lives!”
Classic Cakes is located at 1752 E 116th Street in Carmel. For more information, call 317-844-6901 or visit classiccakescarmel.com.