Who doesn’t love a sweet treat at the end of their meal?” asks Charles Bryant, owner of Grafton Peek Cakery. The people of Greenwood certainly do, and Bryant is grateful for it. Fourteen years ago, before the cakery was even a glimmer of an idea, Bryant partnered with Jason West to open Grafton Peek Catering in old town Greenwood.
“We started from humble beginnings,” Bryant says.
Their business blossomed and now they do between 125-150 weddings annually. Initially, their brides and grooms were bringing in cakes from other venues, but they often faced issues. The cakes were leaning or they were tasteless or the decorations were sub-par. Such issues reflected poorly on their company so, to protect their image, they started baking cakes themselves.
“I’ve always loved both cooking and baking,” says Bryant, who attended culinary school in Portland, Oregon. He also lived in Vermont before moving back to Greenwood in 2000. Though he enjoyed baking, he never studied it professionally so he was thrilled when Liz Thompson came on board at Grafton Peek Catering. She studied at the Chef’s Academy in Indy, and Bryant calls her talents for decorating cakes “limitless.”
In May of this year, Bryant launched Grafton Peek Cakery, a custom design shop. It turned out to be the perfect time to open.
“I bet we did 75 graduation cakes that month, plus a ton of Mother’s Day cakes,” Bryant says.
Thompson not only does all of the wedding and banquet cakes but she also bakes breakfast breads and cookies.
“She has a real talent for baking and even better talent for decorating and design,” says Bryant, noting that in the two and a half years since she joined the team, she has turned out a number of elaborate designs, including the roulette wheel cake she designed for the Greenwood Education Foundation when they hosted a Monte Carlo event. She also created an intricate cake for WISH-TV when the crew of Indy Style celebrated their 10th anniversary. Thompson fashioned a miniature set, along with figurines of the two hosts. She’s also done everything from a Coach purse to a giant overflowing beer mug to a deep-dish Chicago-style pepperoni pizza.
Unicorn cakes are popular with the kids, and the most popular flavor is almond raspberry. They grind up real chocolate into their cakes. They also use a real buttercream. They do approximately 20 different flavors, including tiramisu, orange cream and the “classics.”
“We like to go bold,” says Bryant, who invites customers to come in and taste test during business hours. “We usually have 4 to 5 cakes people can taste on any given day.”
Crafting each “work of art” requires multiple steps and takes between 10 to 12 hours to complete — cutting fondant, making and painting sugar sculptures, plus dry time and assembly.
“It really is a process, and it takes someone with patience and extreme talent,” Bryant adds. “Liz has worked her entire adult life honing this skill. We’re happy to give her talents an ability to shine.”
When it comes to designing a cake, customers provide parameters about colors, ideas and theme. Thompson then sketches possible designs for the customer to review.
“We create what we think the guests will like,” Bryant says. “A lot of times we get home runs. Occasionally, we strike out, but 95 percent of the time folks are pleased with the end result.”
Bryant estimates filling 15-20 orders per week and requests a one to two-week lead time for specialty cakes. Customers don’t mind planning as the end result is worth the wait.
“Best buttercream ever,” they rave. “We’ll never buy a cake from anywhere else!”
“Such comments really warm my heart and let me know we’re doing something that’s good for the community,” says Bryant, who is thrilled to be in the business of making memories.
“Cakes are often a focal point to whatever event you’re doing,” he adds. “When you have a beautiful cake that tastes as good as it looks, that really cements the experience for everyone.”
Grafton Peek Cakery is located at 410 E. Main Street in Greenwood. For more information, check out their Facebook page at @graftonpeekcakery or give them a call at 317-851-8786.