Longtime baker opens Downtown store

By: Gloria Young Journal Staff Writer
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For years, Cathy Bianchi has baked cakes, pies, cookies and other desserts for parties, weddings, local events and even raffles. Now the pastries are available daily at her new Downtown Auburn bakery called Gimmie Cake Too! For Bianchi, baking is a longtime passion. “I’ve always decorated cakes,” she said Monday. “I started when the kids were small and I had one of those metal plungers you push with your thumb.” It grew into a profession almost by accident when a good friend was teaching a class in cake decorating and needed one more student. “I took the class and then immediately started teaching,” Bianchi said. She learned about the business side as deli manager for Newcastle Produce several years ago. “Working at Newcastle Produce is where I really learned how to handle production,” she said. “You don’t just make a dozen cookies, you make six-to-eight dozen. The quality of doing retail is a little different than just baking chocolate chip cookies for the kids at home.” Her work experience also includes time as a cake decorator at Flour Garden Bakery. Then three years ago, she launched her own business, Cathy’s Catering, preparing not only pastries and desserts, but appetizer plates and full meals. “When I left (Flour Garden), I was going to take a break,” she said. “But people kept asking me to make cakes for events.” She opened the Downtown bakery on Dec. 1 with a showcase of her handiwork. “We started with turnovers, muffins, muffin tops and cookies,” she said. “We had gourmet Rice Krispie Treats — peanut butter and chocolate and a lemon krispie treat with topping.” Then there were the filled cupcakes — white cake with lemon filling, red velvet with cream cheese filling, carrot with cream cheese filling, chocolate with Bavarian cream, lemon with a mango-mousse filling, pink champagne with strawberry mousse filling. And that was just a start. “One thing my husband and I want to do is find out what people want and what they’re going to eat,” Bianchi said. “I know what I like. My husband knows what he likes. We want to know the consumers’ favorites.” In fact, coming up with recipes is something she relishes. “Like yesterday, I worked up a mandarin meringue pie and I did a key lime and blackberry filling in a meringue shell,” she said. One of the fans of Bianchi’s baking is Auburn resident Janet Paehlig, a member of Soroptimist International of Historic Auburn. “She’s done events for (the club). She has also (made items) for me for various social functions,” Paehlig said. “Her desserts are fabulous. They’re stunning and innovative.” A Paehlig favorite is the little poppers — mini cupcakes. “They are very innovative,” she said. “Not only do I like them, they disappear from the table by others. (Bianchi) is also very easy to work with, very accommodating to your timing and delivery. She’s a phenomenal caterer.” Although the focus of the bakery is take-out counter service, Bianchi has tables and chairs for discussions with her catering customers and for customers who want to have a little snack break onsite. There’s also coffee, hot tea and hot chocolate. For the summer, she plans to add cold drinks. Future plans include expanding the menu beyond traditional desserts. “After the first of the year, we’re bringing in low-carb, sugar-free and gluten-free desserts,” she said. “I deal a lot with brides who ask for gluten-free items, so I’ve had to come up with some gluten-free desserts.” For Bianchi, an important part of being in business is interacting with the community. She’s a member of the Auburn Rotary Club, Auburn Chamber of Commerce, Highway 49 Business Association, Placer Business Alliance and Think Auburn First. “You can’t just sit behind the counter and wait for people to walk in,” she said. “You have to be out. You have to be active. You have to be involved. You have to give to the community.” Reach Gloria Young at ---------- Gimmie Cake Too! Where: 846 Lincoln Way, Downtown Auburn Hours: open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday Phone: (530) 885-5889 E-mail: gimmiecake