If Liz Thompson were a cake flavor, she would be confetti, because when you cut into it there is a surprise inside.
Thompson has always loved to bake cakes. Her late mother-in-law Gwendolyn Thompson encouraged her to go to pastry school. Since then, she’s dreamed of owning a cakery. On June 16, 2020, that dream finally came true. Gwendolyn Lee Cakery, named after Thompson’s mother-in-law, officially opened in downtown Beech Grove in a space adjacent to the Tea Room of Rustic Root.
Thompson started baking cakes once she had children. Today, she has 12 years of experience in baking and cake decorating, along with an associates degree from The Chef’s Academy pastry program.
When walking into the shop, the first thing customers see are decadent cakes and cupcakes that fill a case and line the walls – everything from a black, four-tiered cake wrapped with colorful flowers, to stunning, white wedding cakes, to delicately decorated birthday cakes. You’ll also see a collection of memorabilia that is important to Thompson and her family. Hanging on the wall are framed recipes for a Texas sheet cake, a red velvet cake, and a busy-day butter cake that was one of Gwendolyn’s signature specialties.
“She would always make the red velvet cake for Christmas,” Thompson says of her mother-in-law. “I’m the one to carry on the tradition now, but my favorite thing she would make was her yeast rolls.”
On a shelf sits black and white photographs of the people in Thompson’s life who have helped and inspired her along the way, including portraits of Gwendolyn, her grandmother, and her dear friend Megan Buskirk, who passed away at age 37. Each person has a special place in Thompson’s life.
“My grandmother would always have us baking,” Thompson says. “As soon as we could walk, she’d have us up at the counter helping her make chocolate chip cookies. Megan was the one who taught me everything I know about cake decorating, from piping to making flowers to fondant work. She had the patience to teach me. She helped me design my wedding cake, which was the first wedding cake I ever made.”
Thompson owns the shop with her husband Michael, who is retired after more than 29 years of service in the Army. They have three daughters, two of whom are in the Greenwood High School marching band.
Thompson offers custom cakes, cookies and cupcakes for baby showers, birthdays, weddings or spontaneous just-because celebrations. To-go cakes range from $25 to $40, with custom writing available on the spot. Custom cakes vary in price and cake tasting is free of charge, with more flavors than just vanilla and chocolate available – think lemon, red velvet, raspberry cream, confetti and almond. Looking for a gluten-free option? Although the kitchen is not gluten-free, Thompson can make cakes with gluten-free ingredients.
Gwendolyn Lee Cakery is located at 624 Main Street in Beech Grove. For more information, you can give them a call at 317-760-5833 or visit gwendolynleecakery.com.
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