Shared History - June/July 2018
- story by Denise Jacobs
Rich, moist cake filled with fruit or topped with a gooey, buttery, decadent coconut and pecan filling — your choice — and so many more! There was a time when no occasion - from baptisms to wedding showers - was complete without the perfect cake. Some Gulf Coast residents still hold to the tradition.
When the Shoofly queried members of a Bay/Waveland Facebook page about memories of cakes and old-timey cake bakers in the area, the site exploded with mouthwatering memories of delectable desserts.
As expected, the late Ruth Thompson’s name appeared. Someone noted that Ruth’s cakes tasted like they were “dropped from heaven.” Every Facebook comment evoked another sweet memory:
- My mom loved Doberge cake, so when I found out I could get a Doberge cake without traveling to Gambino’s in Metairie—a cake that was just as good if not better—I would get one every year for my mom’s birthday. Many happy memories were made sitting around one of Ruth’s cakes!
- Ditto all that!
- Especially the raspberry one. Always had that when out of town guests came in.
- Yes! Love me Ruth’s baked goods!
- Oh yes! I used to buy two or three cakes at a time at Ruth’s—Doberge! I’d have one cake to give away and one to take home. I miss those days!
Still, beloved as she was, Ruth Thompson, owner of Ruth’s Cakery in Bay St. Louis, was just one of several cherished cake makers in the Bay St. Louis/Waveland area.
And there was Inez Blaize Favre (1900-1983).
In the ‘60s, Inez and daughters Udell and Inez—or “Little Inez” as she was known—baked from their house on Felicity Street. Little Inez became Inez Favre Pope. She baked from her home on Highland Drive in her retirement from the late ‘80s until Katrina destroyed the house.
Rachel Pope Cross, one of Mrs. Pope’s daughters, remembers her father building a special kitchen on the back of the house to have a proper home bakery. “A delicacy was always in the oven,” Mrs. Cross said, “and friends and neighbors popped in almost every day of the year to pick up their sweet treats.”
Mrs. Cross remembers her mother baking over 500 petit fours for the opening of a Biloxi casino. “It fell to me to put dots on sugar cubes to resemble dice.”
Both Luttrell and Cross remember customers bringing party-themed napkins to Little Inez and Udell. Danita or Rachel would transfer the design onto the cake with a toothpick, and the bakers would fill it in with icing or hollowed-out sugar mold designs. As the girls tell it, all the relatives got in on the act at one point or another by washing mounds of mixing bowls, delivering cakes, or answering the front door.
Luttrell remembers her grandmother as an amazing cook and a woman who did everything to perfection. “She would spend more money making something perfect than she made selling it!” Luttrell attributes this to a convent-based education. “She just wanted everything to be beautiful, and she passed down all her talents, from cookery to crewel to cakery, to her children and grandchildren.”
- That red velvet cake has a permanent place in my heart. Many fond memories and never able to replicate it
- The best red velvet cake!
- My wedding cake won state contest. It had beautiful white doves on top.
Luttrell said that all the women have Inez Blaize Favre’s cake recipes but are sworn to secrecy. “The red velvet cake frosting was not the typical cream cheese type,” she says. “It was almost like a whipped cream, but it’s not whipped cream.”
- I remember going to the Morreale house with my mother and sitting under the kitchen table eating petit fours.
- I remember Gregg and his partner making my wedding cake. It was wonderful! They even put silver pulls in it for me.
- Scott and Greg used to make my kids’ birthday cakes. I’d just hand them my Hallmark invitation, and they’d work something up to go with the theme. They always made me a big cake for the guests and a little cake for the birthday boy or girl.
- Gregg and Scott did awesome work. Their cakes were the best tasting and most beautiful cakes around—the best hands down.
Special thanks to "You Know You're From the Bay" Facebook page and contributors.