The just-opened Bakery Bar in the Lower Garden District is the brainchild of Charlotte McGehee and Charles Mary IV. Charlotte is the woman behind Debbie Does Doberge. There is no Debbie-just Charlotte. You may be familiar with Charlotte’s cakes. She’s spent the past several years selling her wares at the mid-city bar Twelve Mile Limit. She’s now moved her operation to the Bakery Bar and expanded her menu to include food and drinks.
Before I go further, a brief history about the star of the Bakery Bar: doberge. Doberge cakes are a staple at many birthday parties and family gatherings in New Orleans. The popular cakes are something that I grew up with and I assumed were available everywhere. It turns out that they aren’t, at least not the way they’re made in New Orleans.
Doberge is a multi thin-layered cake with pudding between each layer. It’s topped off with a thin layer of buttercream and an outer shell of poured fondant.
The Doberge Queen of New Orleans, the late Beulah Ledner, is credited with creating doberge cakes. She patterned her recipe on a Hungarian torte called Dobos. I recently posted a picture of a slice of doberge cake on my Facebook page. My friend Angela, who lives in Baltimore, commented that there it is known as Smith Island Ten-Layer Cake. Whatever you call it, if you live in New Orleans, or are just visiting, you’re in luck because the Bakery Bar sells doberge by the slice.
Charlotte and Charles’ repertoire goes way beyond the traditional chocolate and lemon flavors. Depending on when you visit, you can choose a slice of Salted Caramel, Red Velvet Elvis, Heavenly Hash, or Whoopie Pie to name a few. The doberge slices at the Bakery Bar consist of eight layers of cake and seven layers of pudding.
Charlotte also creates D-cups (pyramid-shaped mini doberge cakes), Dobites (doberge petite fours), and salty balls (cake balls with sea salt).
Locals will recognize the location at 1179 Annunciation St. as the former Italian restaurant Eleven 79. Bakery Bar manager Faith Simmons is affectionately called the “Cake-brarian” owing to her time working at a university library. Faith is joined by bar manager Jess Schwartz, and Jordan Brown is in charge of the kitchen. The savory menu includes a cheese board with charcuterie, pimento cheese “sconewiches, and Gulf shrimp tartine.
Schwartz specializes in classic cocktails and he’s happy to share the origins of historical drinks such as the Gimlet. Hint. . .it has something to do with scurvy and the high seas. If you’re indecisive on what to order, or just want to try something new, Schwartz will create a cocktail made to order.
Now that summer is fast approaching you may want to try the Absinthe Frappe – a fluffy, icy creation with mint or a Mule Cart – Chai vodka, apricot brandy, lemon and ginger beer.
But, as I said earlier the star of the Bakery Bar is the doberge. And thanks to Charlotte and Charles you can celebrate any day with your favorite slice of doberge.
Let me know which flavor you try!