Cheap Eats - The Cake Hag

Downtown gets its just desserts

FOOD GROUP: Hidden downtown cakery

CAKE NIRVANA: Self-professed cake addicts Maggie and Katie Sweeney opened the Cake Hag just a couple of months ago. The artisan bakeshop aims for a causal vibe. You can pick up a slice of cake to go or sit at the bar, nibble on a piece of cake, and sip on a cup of French press made with Dancing Goats beans while the chatty Sweeneys bake away. Maggie's love for all things cake drives her creative process; she developed all of the recipes in her personal search for "cake nirvana." The Hag doesn't follow any strict baking rules. "The sky's the limit," says Maggie, who takes a lot of inspiration from her customers and "will bend over backward" to make people's dessert desires into cake realities.

WHAT'S IN A NAME? The name started as a joke between the mother/daughter team during one delirious cake-baking night. Katie asked her mom to pass her the cake rag, but Maggie misheard her and thought she called her a "cake hag." The nickname stuck. When the time came to choose a name for the store, the girls couldn't think of anything else that fit the feel of the store better. The response to the name has been mixed, but it fits the place's overall sense of humor beautifully.

A SLICE OF HEAVEN: The Cake Hag's cake creations often take classic recipes and turn them up a notch. The red wine velvet gets its deep maroon color from a Cabernet wine reduction, which also contributes to the cake's smooth texture. The mascarpone frosting and pastry cream cheese elevate this Southern classic from good to great. Booze seems to be a prominent ingredient in many of the cakes. One of the more popular cakes (especially among her male customers), Jameson's banana pudding, is a towering beautiful mess of sliced bananas, creamy filling and "real" sponge cake bursting with Irish whisky goodness. Slices sell for $2.50 and a basic 8-inch cake costs $25.

TINY BITES: The Cake Hag's cupcakes also have a decidedly nonconformist bent. Look for mini cupcakes filled with cookie dough and banana, bursting with fresh fruit and topped with a sinful brown buttercream frosting.

FOLLOW THE FROSTING: The Hag's website is still evolving, but you can follow the shop's Twitter account (@cakehag) to keep up with the daily flavors and deals.

THE BOTTOM LINE: An absolute destination for any self-respecting cake fiend. It's impossible to leave without a huge smile on your face and bag full of inexpensive — and swoon-worthy — homespun sweets in your hand.

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