2011-02-24 / News

Tasty Layers

Burton bakery takes flight as wedding cake season stacks up

BURTON — Shortly after Rhonda Touchette-McKee purchased her first cake shop in 2009, she spent hours priming over the forest green walls of previous occupant Dutchman’s Deli.

Today, her bakery, Tasty Layers, boasts striped and polka dotted walls in soft pastel shades.

Touchette-McKee began baking special occasion cakes out of her home in 2006 after being laid off for the second time from now defunct Northwest Airlines.

“After 9/11, everything changed in that industry,” she said.

Instead of looking at other airlines, Touchette-McKee dedicated one side of her duplex home in Flint to mixers, pans and a fine dusting of flour.

When the home business grew, she moved into the former deli which was already equipped with the required triple sink and vent systems.

“It was almost perfect,” Touchette-McKee remarked of the location’s amenities. “I look around here now and I can’t believe that all this stuff was in my home.”

Rhonda Touchette-McKee ices cupcakes at the kitchen in Tasty Layers. 
Photo by Amanda Durish Rhonda Touchette-McKee ices cupcakes at the kitchen in Tasty Layers. Photo by Amanda Durish The jump from flight attendant to baker doesn’t seem drastic when you factor in Touchette-McKee’s upbringing.

“I grew up around it,” Touchette-McKee says.

Her mother decorated cakes for a small store in Attica. Touchette-McKee and her five siblings all learned in their childhood how to layer and frost.

Opening a bakery during a significantly downtrodden economy is something Touchette-McKee considered before moving to the Burton location. She says that while the bakery is not recessionproof, people will always get married.

“I’m a small business owner. I understand that completely,” Touchette-McKee says of shrinking lavish cakes and the growing in popularity kitchen cakes.

Paperwork remains the most daunting task that faces Touchette-McKee in the bakery.

Wedding season heralds the busiest months for Touchette-McKee and her bakery. The bulk of business comes from wedding cakes. Tasty Layers can complete five to eight cakes in a weekend. The bakery will close on certain dates to handle the influx of orders and Touchette-McKee will man tables at area bridal shows.

“My husband pretty much never sees me,” says Touchette-McKee.

Touchette-McKee begins by sketching a design concept for a client. Finished products feature requested personal touches — webs of sugar cherry blossoms or a waterfall of strawberries.

Tasty Layers also caters to other special occasions and has turned out edible haunted houses and Corvette replicas.

Recipes for the bakery’s most popular cake flavors — french vanilla with raspberries and dark chocolate with a peanut butter mousse filling — are classified information.

The most heavily guarded recipe, however, is Touchette-McKee’s own trial-and-error tested buttercream icing.

In addition to an initial basic skills test, hires-on have to sign a confidentiality agreement promising to not reveal the recipe specifics.

“I’ve perfected it; it’s the best I’ve ever tasted,” Touchette-McKee said. “I guard the recipe with my life.”

The secrecy surrounding the ingredients extends to her cousin and Tasty Layers office manager Kori Roberts, sister and sometimes baker Lorrie Husted, another cousin who serves as a parttime baker, two other part-time employees and an 18-year-old vocational student and aspiring pastry chef.

Tasty Layers is located at 5515 Davison Rd. and can be reached at 810- 743-0123.

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