Forks up, Phoenix! Chow Bella and Roosevelt Row present the third annual Pie Social Saturday, November 3rd, from 2 to 6 p.m. on Roosevelt Row in downtown Phoenix. We've got an all-star line up of bakers making pies for you to taste, and from now til Pie Social, we'll introduce them to you, one by one.
Today: Tammie Coe of Tammie Coe Cakes makes eyeball cupcakes.
If you've spent any amount of time in Phoenix -- and your tastes rise above the standard Safeway birthday cake -- chances are good that you've sampled Tammie Coe's baked goods.
Coe, a Virginia native, has been in the Valley for 20 years, and she's a tour de force in the world of wedding cakes -- particularly known for her use of fondant. We arrived at her Arcadia bakery (she has a storefront on Roosevelt Row, as well) and were greeted by several assistants.
And then, Tammie Coe herself appears, just like in her pictures: platinum-blonde pixie haircut, blue eyes, fresh face, a crisp white baker's jacket and brown pants.
After scrambling around for something to make, she decides on eyeball cupcakes. That's right, eyeball cupcakes, in the spirit of Halloween (don't worry, no real creepy creatures were harmed in the making).
The cupcakes, which she'd baked prior to our arrival, appear and she puts them on a wood counter at the front of the store, behind the case of baked goods and next to a pile of sugar cookie dough. As she works, she tells us about herself.
Like most bakers, Coe's passion started young, around the age of 12.
Despite having degrees in both culinary and baking from Johnson and Wales University in Rhode Island, she admits she isn't much of a cook.
"You have meat, you have heat, you have food," she says. "Pastry is more intricate and fascinating....It's art."
Indeed, Tammie Coe is an artist.
The store, which is decorated in fall/Halloween colors, has shelves filled with highly detailed, fondant covered cakes, showcasing her craftsmanship.
"Fondant is a vehicle for creative, because it's like clay," Coe says of the sugary Play-Doh-like substance. Her love for sculpting can clearly be seen as she molds, shapes, and cuts the fondant that will become our cupcake's eyeball.
The cupcakes, once only covered in white buttercream, are layred with fondant (skin colored for the human eye and Kermit the Frog green for the monster eye) -- and then the detail work begins.
Carefully, Coe adds red veins and fleshy eyelids to the human eyeball, and once that is finished, starts her sculpting magic on an alien.
It gets pink dots and a green stick with a green eye.
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Coe swears by her paring knife, saying it's the most important tool in the kitchen aside from her hands. When she is not making cakes, she enjoys making donuts. Chocolate and a "good yeasty original donut" are her favorites, but really she likes anything chocolate flavored.
Our cupcake experience comes to an end as two finished cupcakes look back at us from the table, waiting to be sold.
Want to read about the other competitors? Karen Olson Makes Chocolate Chip Cookies Brady Breese Makes Pumpkin Bread Joan O'Connor Makes Mediterranean Pasta Salad Monti Carlo Makes Banana Bread Muffins Mamma Toledo Makes Egg Sammies with Horseradish Cheese Slade Grove Makes Gluten-Free Amaretti Cookies Jeff Kraus Makes the "First Time Crepe" -- Nutella, Elderflower, Spiced Walnuts and More David Duarte Makes Peanut Butter Crunch Bars Winnona Herr Makes Butterscotch Bananas Foster Pudding