Fun For Diners: Watching Pottstown Chef Caress A Cake

Saturday's Fun Was Watching Chef Caress A Cake

Pastry chef Sam Rhame, and Milkman Lunch owner Christoper Longeway

POTTSTOWN PA – It’s fun to watch an artist at work. It’s more fun still if the artist is creating a work to which most people immediately relate.

Like cake.

You know: birthday cake, tail-gating cake, retirement cake and, the grand dame of them all, wedding cake. For that kind of fun Saturday (Sept. 1, 2012), the place to be was Milkman Lunch Company and Cake Shoppe, 451 N. Charlotte St.

Milkman, its owner Christopher Longeway, and its pastry chef Sam Rhame have benefited from great word-of-mouth since the shop’s opening during Spring 2011. Cake-making is its specialty; photos lining the walls attest Rhame has turned out some huge and fanciful delights. However, the small restaurant also serves made-to-order breakfast and lunch dishes and, for tiny cake appetites, it carries a selection of cupcakes as well.

Milkman’s kitchen is open for the world to peer in; only a counter keeps the customers from the cook. Patrons can literally look over Longeway’s shoulder and watch him create their sandwich. Even better, they can huddle close to the short clear glass partition separating Rhame and his latest confection from those who would willingly lick a spoon clean if given the chance.

That’s where the pastry chef could be found Saturday at about 1 p.m., enrobing a wedding cake in a soft lilac-colored rolled fondant.

Fondant is a mixture of sugar, water and binders in dough-like consistency that can be kneaded and stretched into a thin sheet. It’s become a popular covering alternative to buttercream and other types of icing for wedding cakes.

Saturday's Fun Was Watching Chef Caress A Cake
Rhame was busy with the second layer of a cake, having already created a base tier (above, in the foreground). He rolled the somewhat circular fondant sheet to an even thickness, and then carefully draped it over the cake resting on a coated board in front of him.

Saturday's Fun Was Watching Chef Caress A Cake

As if applying wallpaper to the cake’s curved and rounded surfaces (above), Rhame soothed, tugged, pinched, prodded and caressed the fondant over crevices and across edges without a tear or ripple. He used his slightly coated hands (below) as tools to coax the fondant where he needed it to be, right down to the base of the layer and the board on which it rested.

Saturday's Fun Was Watching Chef Caress A Cake

Finally, brandishing a rolling blade not unlike that used to section pizza slices, he trimmed the excess fondant away (below) and smoothed the base edge until it practically disappeared. Once done, Rhame grinned, obviously enjoying his craft as much as his spectators were.

Saturday's Fun Was Watching Chef Caress A Cake

The best artists know what’s fun, too.

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Top photo of Rhame and Longeway from Milkman Lunch Company