Residents who have seen the Lifetime Channel movie “Christmas in Louisiana,” shot this summer in New Iberia, will recognize faces and places. One business owner was genuinely surprised when the middle-aged couple on a date on Main Street, suddenly said, “let’s get cake at Guidry’s Cakes.” Cimi Guidry Saunier is the second generation owner of the now famous cake shop, her daughter Madison Saunier working by her side, is the third. Christmas is one of the times we think of sweets, but they’re carrying on a much longer legacy.
How did you get involved with “Christmas in Louisiana”?
We didn’t. We were watching it and waiting to see who we might recognize in the background, what businesses, and there we were — second dessert — at Guidry’s Cakes, instead of dinner out. We were surprised, but happy. There were other places mentioned, too.
What is the Christmas season like as far as cake sales?
We sell as many birthday cakes as we do Christmas cakes. Everyone feels the same way if a baby has been born in December, you can’t slight the birthday celebration just because it’s Christmas. My mother’s birthday was Christmas Eve and we always had a birthday cake for her. I don’t know how many we’ll sell during the Christmas holidays, but during the Wednesday, only, before Thanksgiving, more than 140 cakes went out of here.
How old were you when you started working in the bakery?
I was 7 years old. I grew up in the bakery. I didn’t always plan on staying here. I went to college studying dental hygiene. But when baking is your background, you come back to it.
How long have you been managing Guidry’s Cakes?
Twelve years, right after my mother passed away. She bought the bakery and the recipes from the previous owners who had the shop for 50 years. Mom’s name was Gladys Guidry. I still use the original recipes. Most of the pans, tools and the oven were all things she bought in 1976 from the original owners. That’s why the cakes are so good, they are truly homemade.
Since you inherited the scratch recipes, how would you rate your cakes?
Some people consider opening a box and adding eggs as scratch. We really are scratch cakes. We’ll use 80 dozen eggs a week. When we travel, we always try other bakeries to learn from and compare to our cakes. Las Vegas, California, all over the U.S., we’ve found some that are good, but no better than Guidry’s in New Iberia. We’ve had customers tell us we should move to a bigger city, but why? This is our home. We have one man who flies regularly into New Iberia in his private plane and always leaves taking a Guidry’s Cake home with him.
What is your favorite kind of cake, or the most popular?
Red velvet cake by far, is our most popular. My favorite to personally eat is plain cake, without all the fancy decorative frosting. I think a cake with simple frosting has to stand on its own with flavor, not just because it’s pretty. Decorations are fine, but the taste is what matters and creates the memory.
New recipes for holiday baking
The holiday season is synonymous with many things, including family gatherings, shopping, elaborate lighting displays and Santa Claus. For foodies, this time of year is the perfect opportunity to indulge one’s love of baked goods.
Between office parties and gatherings with family and friends, it’s hard to avoid baked treats come the holiday season. Perhaps no baked good is more closely linked to the holidays than gingerbread, an indulgence many people enjoy only around Christmastide. Holiday hosts, or those who want to bring a dessert to their next holiday gathering, can whip up this recipe for “Sticky Chocolate Gingerbread” from Maxine Clark’s “Chocolate: Deliciously Indulgent Recipes for Chocolate Lovers,” published by Ryland, Peters & Small.
Something for everyone
Millions of people across the globe adhere to a gluten-free diet. While gluten must be avoided by people who have been diagnosed with Celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder affecting the small intestines, roughly 70 percent of the people who have adopted gluten-free diets do not have the disease.
Where there once was a dearth of gluten-free foods just a few years ago, today many mainstream retailers have entire aisles filled with gluten-free offerings. And people who used to eschew various baked goods, including breads and desserts, now have many options at their disposal.
A gluten-free diet requires avoiding flours made from wheat, barley and rye. In such instances, people can choose from flours made from rice, tapioca starch or potato starch. Some carefully tested and blended flours use a combination of various flours to produce just the right consistency.
For those who desire a traditional golden cake, try this recipe for “Gluten-Free Yellow Cake” courtesy of King Arthur Flour.