JUST IN CASE you decided not to trek down to the National Mall to view the cherry blossoms, here’s your chance to see another version of Washington’s justifiably celebrated “here today, gone tomorrow” Yoshino cherry tree blooms.
We spotted this gorgeous floral extravaganza by local patissière Lauren Cooper on her Facebook page. The two-tiered cake for 100 guests was the centerpiece of an annual Cherry Blossom Festival shindig last weekend at a house where a giant cherry tree dominates the property. But even in an area with more than its share of stellar cake-makers, Cooper’s creation with sky-blue cream-cheese frosting and fondant flowers is a knockout. The bottom layer is vanilla malt with dulce de leche filling; the top, chocolate malt with chocolate butter cream; the 75 dainty cherry blossoms with tiny pearl centers and dozens of random pink petals powdered with luster dust are all edible.
I’ve been following Cooper for nearly a decade, ever since District photographer Kevin Allen, who had just shot my daughter’s wedding pictures, mentioned that his wife, Lauren, was a caterer. I followed up by engaging her outfit, Melt.
The food was great but it was the sweets–tiny boxes of decadent dark chocolate overflowing with carmine raspberries and tarts topped by a glistening pear pinwheel–that immediately revealed that this gal had a special way with desserts.
It was then that I learned that she was the pastry chef at the Little Fountain Café in Adams Morgan. Still is. (Just last week readers of the Washington City Paper voted Little Fountain Café, where Lauren’s apple dumplings and warm chocolate-chip brioche bread pudding are currently on the menu, as the best place in D.C. to take someone on a first date.)
Cooper, a lifelong Washingtonian who has been with Little Fountain for 16 years now, learned to bake at her mother’s knee. Cakes, initially requested for family occasions by her own three kids and a host of nieces and nephews and their sidekicks, are relatively new to her portfolio. Adults, enchanted by her Rubber Duckie, dinosaur and skating penguin cakes, began requesting more-elaborate, grown-up fare, such as the Cherry Blossom cake, for themselves.
To give you an idea about price, this particular cake, with a 12-inch bottom and 8-inch top, fed 100 people (at $2-plus-some per slice) and cost $290. A 4-inch cake for four is $45.
For a range of Cooper’s offerings and more information, you can visit Aspen Street Cakes online.
–Patricia Dane Rogers