SALAMANCA — The smell of freshly baked pastries, breads and the like will soon be wafting on the air when Dessert Art Bakery opens at 77 Main St.
Co-owners and partners Carol Bryant, of Great Valley, and Rachael Ferguson, of Salamanca came up with the name, “Dessert Art Bakery,” because they feel that the sweet treats they make are artwork.
The two became friends while working at the buffet at the Seneca Allegany Casino and Hotel. A conversation in April between the friends revealed that they both dreamed of having a bakery. At first, they just talked about their common interest but the dream soon became a reality when Bryant noticed the business space was for rent at a pretty good deal.
“After seeing the space, I thought it would make a nice bakery spot,” she said. “Then we started seriously pursuing the business and started looking things up like equipment and other items needed for our bakery. Then we said, ‘we should do this … we should really do this.’”
Ferguson, who is an enrolled member of the Seneca Nation Bear Clan, applied for a business loan with the Seneca Nation of Indians Economic Development Company (SNIEDC), which made the financing of their Dessert Art Bakery possible.
SNIEDC provides financial services and working capital support to new and existing small Native American businesses, corporations, partnerships, and joint ventures in which enrolled members of the Nation own majority interest and are active in the conduct of business.
“They were very nice and helpful to us,” Ferguson said.
Bryant said what started out as a casual conversation developed into a serious business pursuit. Next, they contacted the landlord and worked the deal out.
She has since left the casino so she can pursue the bakery business full-time. She said she’s an artist and plans to do some dessert-themed paintings on canvas to decorate the walls.
Both Bryant and Ferguson are experienced bakers and have learned the “how tos” in different ways. Bryant said she started baking as a little girl with her mother who was always making cakes for everybody and she continued to help her while she was growing up.
“I learned baking and decorating from her,” she said. “I baked my first cake at age 5. When my mother passed away, I took all of her books and just practiced and practiced. I’ve been baking and decorating since then.”
Bryant said she treats the specialty cakes that she creates like a piece of art and she actually does airbrush pictures on her cakes. To her, it’s like a painting.
“I work with fondant a lot, which is ‘like edible Playdoh,’ but very hard to work with,” she said. “It’s pliable and very temperature sensitive, so if it’s hot and humid, it melts really fast. You have to keep it cool.”
Although she has held other jobs, including a supermarket manager, she said she’s always gone back to cake decorating. She said she loves decorating cakes and that’s her specialty. She also makes cookies, brownies, breads and other sweet treats.
“We both do a little bit of everything, but I’ve been doing the cake decorating all of my life,” she said.
Born and raised in the Ellicottville-Great Valley area, Bryant moved to Virginia where she has lived for the past 30 years. She said she had done some businesses in the South on her own while her two children were growing up and she was always successful at it. She came back home, in February, with the intention of opening up a bakery and spending the rest of her life here.
“I was just waiting for the right time and the right opportunity,” she said. “Then I met Rachael.”
Ferguson, the cupcake expert, left for college after graduating from Salamanca High School in 2011. She returned after attending a nine-month program at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Boston, Mass.
“I was mainly culinary, but I took a baking class got an A+,” she said. “It was the only class that I never got lower than a 95 in,” she laughed.
Ferguson finished culinary school and came back home to Salamanca and got a job at the casino where she is still employed. While working there, she discovered that she liked baking much more and began thinking about her passion.
“I was randomly making cupcakes at home, one day, and then I realized how much I loved making cupcakes,” she said. “I made cupcakes every other day. I also make pastries like Danishes and eclairs.”
According to Bryant, they will not be making donuts, at first, due to building codes and insurance purposes relating to deep fryers, however they anticipate adding donuts to the list later. Until then, the bakery will offer a wide variety of homemade cupcakes, cookies, brownies, muffins and jumbo muffins, bagels, breads, rolls, pastries, coffee and more. Specialty cakes will also be offered.
“None of this would have been possible without Rachael’s dad, Jim Ferguson, who is a contractor,” Bryant said. “He helped us with most of the construction that needed to be done and all the plumbing and wiring. He went above and beyond to help us get the shop ready.”
For the convenience of customers, additional parking on River Street has been approved.
The bakery is planned to be open early this month and people should watch for the grand opening celebration to be announced at a later date. Look for Dessert Art Bakery at the Falling Leaves Festival where they will have a booth set up.
Hours of operation will be Tuesday-Saturday from 7 a.m. - 6 p.m. For special orders or more information, call (585) 307-6578.
(This story appeared in the Sept. 5, 2013 edition of The Salamanca Press.)