Sweet success: Business takes off at Premier Cakes Bakery & Cafe

06/28/2014 12:00 AM

06/27/2014 4:56 PM

Gwen McLean tried a flavor she’s never, ever liked – and swooned over it.

Alan and Sharon Pope stop in once, if not twice, a week. Yes, every week. Sometimes, they bring company.

Ola Mae Cimerro sends her favorites across the miles to her grand nieces and nephews.

Judy Jones rejoices the wait is over for others in this corner of the world to know: if you’re looking for authentic, made-from-scratch cakes, pies and other desserts, you’re looking for Premier Cakes Bakery & Café and the sweet treats of husband and wife team Tracy and Bobby Outlaw, the purveyors of Fine Cakes & Desserts.

Shucks, my friend and workout partner, Janice Brodie, and I even think it’s worth an occasional calorie or many.

On June 26, Tracy and Bobby celebrated two months in their new bakery in the Falls Village Shopping Center. You’ll find them at 6617 Falls of the Neuse Road, Suite 105, just behind Red Hot & Blue.

The open-kitchen bakery offers a unique birds-eye view of Tracy mixing and baking and icing and decorating any combination of more than 50 varieties of cakes, pies and other baked goods.

“Some bakeries say it’s homemade, but it’s a really mix; the “homemade” is just adding eggs and butter,” said Jones, 55. “I can tell the difference.”

The Outlaws have spent years making sure Premier’s cake batter, frosting, pie crusts and fillings rival perfection.

“We’ve perfected them together,” said Tracy, 49, who does all the baking. “Everything we bake, we’ve done it over and over and over and over until it’s perfected. And it’s always going to be the same, every time.”

Something for everyone

Each day, there are 15 to 20 varieties for your choosing.

Premier specializes in three-layer, 9-inch, traditional American cakes. Hummingbird cake is its top seller, closely followed by its sweet potato cake. Think, too, sweet potato pie, blackberry cobbler and bread pudding. There’s Key lime pie, made from the fresh juices of Key limes, and coconut-coconut Cake, made with macaroon coconut in both batter and icing. There’s also international flavors of Premier’s trés leches – albeit made with four milks instead of three; Génoise, crossing French and Italian cuisines; tiramisu; Mexican pound cake; and Jamaican black cake, which can take as long as two years to make with premium fruit soaked six-12 months in liqueur and wine baked into a cake that must soak, too.

Gwen McLean, who prefers cakes without fruits or nuts, surprised herself and enjoyed the hummingbird cake, right along with her all-time favorite, wedding cake.

“The wedding cake was crazy good; really one of the best I’ve ever had,” she said.

The Outlaws, married 32 years, started Premier Cakes three years ago. Tracy was laid off from her accounting office job in 2009, so while she worked for Bobby’s engineering company, Outlaw Engineering Support Services, she baked as she always has for family, friends and co-workers. They also designed, planned and outfitted their home off New Hope Road with a commercial kitchen, complete with four ovens.

“Within six months, we had cakes everywhere,” said Bobby, 50, who uses his engineering background to create and design recipes. “We didn’t plan on growing that quickly, but it was good.”

Building a following

For about a year and a half, the Outlaws leased space in the center of the dining room at Fitzgerald’s Seafood on Millbrook Road, introducing an open-space dessert kitchen to Midtown.

That’s where Jones met Premier Cakes. So did Cimerro, who sends almond pound cakes to her grand-nephew in Chicago, and sends other varieties to his counterparts in for holidays and birthdays.

“They’re the best,” Cimerro said of Premier Cakes. “They’re very tasty and delicious; very high quality. They taste like the ones your aunties and grandmother used to make when they had homemade butter and got the eggs from the chicken yard.

“That’s very unique,” said Cimerro, 72, raving, too, over a cake Tracy made for her social circle with designs that matched an afghan they’d made.

The Popes stop in for more than cakes and pies.

“We’re here about every other night,” Alan Pope said.

“No,” interjected Sharon “Jo” Pope, “it’s just once a week; OK, maybe sometimes twice a week.”

Giggling, she said, “It’s their good cake and personalities.”

“It’s an enjoyment to come in here,” Alan Pope said. “Bobby takes care of you. We’re their late-night customers.”

Just before closing last Tuesday, the Popes, who live in North Hills, ordered German chocolate for Alan, pineapple coconut for Jo. David Flythe, the friend they’d brought for dessert, chose hummingbird.

Jo Pope also walked out with a small bag. Smiling, she said, “Got my bread pudding for tomorrow night!”

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